BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Every year during the holidays, we welcome people from across the country into our houses for Christmas, Chanukah, and plenty of other occasions. But in some cases, people can bring unwanted guests inside — including pests that can cause serious damage to our homes and health.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) conducted an online survey in November. Polling 2,069 adults in the United States on their pest encounters, the group discovered that one in ten Americans have found spiders, insects, vermin, and other pests in their home — and a good portion of that comes from when these creatures hitch a ride into homes through holiday decorations.

In the study, 85% of the polled Americans admit to not inspecting their firewood before bringing it indoors — leading to the addition of guests like termites, spiders and ants in their homes. This applies to after the holidays, too: 84% of these individuals report not discarding their Christmas trees away from home (thus attracting rodents).

If you’re concerned about ensuring the only holiday guests in your home are the ones you invite in, the NPMA recommends taking the following steps.

  • Inspect all greenery and natural items for evidence of pests (nests and eggs) before bringing it into your house or car.
  • Store all firewood on raised structures, at least 20 feet away from your home. Inspect all wood before bringing it home, even from the storage area.
  • When disposing of any greenery, do so by placing it far away from the home.

“Winter is all about survival for many common household pests,” said entomologist for the NPMA Michael Bentley, Ph.D in a press release. “As folks begin their holiday travel plans, various pests will also be on the move as they seek shelter indoors from the cold weather. Once inside, these pests can pose significant health and property threats.” 

“The holidays often solicit some of the country’s busiest travel days, so travelers should be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of bed bugs,” said Bentley. “It doesn’t take much for a bed bug to latch onto your travel items. Fortunately, with a few simple tips, people can significantly reduce their risk of unwanted bed bug encounters.” 

If you’re looking to reduce your chances of encountering bed bugs and pests over the holidays, here are some tips from the NPMA that can help you do just that.

  • Be sure to thoroughly inspect rooms before unpacking your clothes and belongings. Check behind headboards, under lights, inside dressers and drawers, under chairs, and both under and inside sofas.
  • Avoid placing your luggage on any upholstered surfaces. Until your inspection is complete, keep bags on tile or luggage racks.
  • Pull back sheets and inspect the mattress seams and box springs on beds — especially around the corners — for stains, spots, or shed bed bug skins.

If you are concerned about pests in your home, be sure to contact your local pest control services, and visit pestworld.org for more ways to keep unwanted visitors out this holiday season.