And Stay Out: How to Keep Pests from Staying Warm in Your Indoor Garden During Winter

By Shannon McKee
Published: February 12, 2017 | Last updated: May 4, 2021 11:03:46
Key Takeaways

Pests don’t disappear during winter; they just try and come inside. Here’s a few tips on how to keep them out.

Winter is here, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at your growroom or indoor gardening area. It’s beautiful in there; everything is lush and summery. It gives you a sense of peace when you go in. However, this gorgeous scene could be hiding the worst sort of home invaders: pests that are after your crops.


Typical Pest Invaders

When it comes to bugs that like to wreak havoc on your indoor crops and flowers, there are a number of them that you have to worry about getting into your home. These include ants, spider mites, earwigs, aphids, scale, gnats, fungus gnats, sowbugs, mealybugs, spiders, lacewings, slugs, and stinkbugs. (Of course, there may be some regional differences.) Often, these pests either get in by hitching a ride on outdoor plants you’ve brought indoors for the winter or through openings in the walls of your home.


Why They’re Coming Inside

All of the things that make your home comfortable in the winter for you and your family also make it the perfect place for insect invaders. The temperature is warm and mild, especially in comparison to the cold outside. There are also good sources of food and moisture inside your house that pests can use to sustain themselves. Plus, these little invaders don’t have to deal with the predators that they would normally have to deal with outside. Thanks to these divine conditions, pests can multiply rapidly within your home without your intervention.

"Watch out for other clues like spider webs, plant damage, dead bugs, and droppings in your growroom that indicate you may have a pest problem."

First Defenses

The first defense against a pest home invasion is knowing what you’re dealing with. So, one of the first things that you should do is check to see if there are any pests already in your home. You should look under and among the leaves in your garden for eggs, larva, and adult bugs. If you’ve brought in any potted plants, check in and around the soil. Bags of potting soil stored in the house can harbor pests as well. Also, watch out for other clues like spider webs, plant damage, dead bugs, and droppings in your growroom that indicate you may have a pest problem.


Removing Winter Invaders

If you realize that pests have invaded your home, now you’ve got to figure out the best way to remove them without damaging your plants or the health of you and your family. Some people use the old-fashioned method of manually plucking bugs off the leaves, but this is not for everyone.

For small potted plants that you brought in for the winter, you can use the dunking method. In this method, you fill up a five-gallon bucket about three-quarters of the way up and then dunk the plant, pot and all, into the water for about 15 minutes. You can even add a few drops of dish soap to the bucket before dunking. This method, however, shouldn’t be used with any plants that go dormant during the winter or that must stay relatively dry, such as succulents.


Another option is to create a spray using water, a few drops of dish soap, and a few drops of canola oil. This works well on soft-bodied insects as it smothers them. Another variation of this spray that can be effective on mites and other insects involves adding a small amount of hot sauce or some cayenne pepper instead canola oil.

You can also seek out a pesticide that will eradicate your winter invaders. However, follow the instructions closely to prevent any issues in your indoor ecosystem or your own health.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Once you’ve gotten rid of all your winter invaders, it’s time to ensure that no other pests will be able to make it into your home. Use a bit of caulk or another sealant to seal up any holes and cracks in the foundation and walls. Even the smallest gap can be used as an ingress point. Not only will this prevent pests from getting inside, but it may help your heating bills as well. It can also be a good idea to clean up any shrubs, bushes, and trees located right against your home as they can be potential places for these invaders to harbor before getting into your home.

Many of us are guilty in thinking that we’re in the clear when it comes to pests during winter, but all the things that makes our homes snug are just as inviting to bugs. We need to continue to be vigilant even when it cold outside to prevent these invaders from coming inside.


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Written by Shannon McKee | Freelance Writer, Gardener

Profile Picture of Shannon McKee

Shannon McKee lives in Ohio and has been a freelance writer for several years now, including on her blog, Nicknamed by loved ones a garden hoarder over the past few years, she grows a wide variety of plants in her urban garden.

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