For many this weekend along with eating turkey and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday rush. Some may begin by waking up early to catch Black Friday deals or more subtlety by decorating their home for the holidays. If you choose to begin by digging for boxes, removing the dust from the precious decorations and unpacking strand after strand of twinkling lights don’t be alarmed if you discover a nest of mice or other creatures.
Holiday decorations that sit in boxes, undisturbed for long periods of time in the attic, basement or closet, provide the perfect hiding spots for pests. The usual culprits are beetles, mice, spiders and weevils. Mice will make nests out of cozy stockings, spiders will spin webs into your wreaths and weevils will burrow into your potpourri.
Avoid storing decorations in cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes can barely keep out dust, let alone hungry pests. Instead, keep wrapping paper and ornaments in large plastic totes and containers. The containers should have tightly sealed lids to keep the contents dry and secure.
Keep cloth or wool items in sealed plastic bags. All stockings, tree skirts and other cloth decorations should be washed and sealed in plastic bags. Damp or dirty table linens can be a pest haven and also harbor germs and bacteria. Plastic bags will help keep items fresh and safe from insects.
Inspect decorations each year for mold or damage. Not all decorations are meant to last forever, and some should be thrown out after one season. Remember to go through your collection and check for moldy or damaged articles. Since mold and moisture can attract more pests, it's best to discard those items.
Inspect lights for any frayed wires from rodent gnawing before plugging in. This will save you the hassle of finding out the lights do not work after putting them up, along with possibility of causing a fire.
If you're faced with a real infestation, consult a pest management professional to figure out the best course of action.