Schmidt: Fall home insect and pest invaders
The start of the new school year, usually means in a few weeks we can expect to find relief from swatting mosquitos during our outdoor activities. However, the departure of these annoying little pests usually signals new pest woes.
Yes, like it or not, fall and cooler temperatures are right around the corner and that means that overwintering insects and other pests will begin looking for ways to enter homes and buildings in search of shelter to wait out the cold winter months. Unfortunately, as these pests look for shelter, many of our home’s surfaces remind them of shelters typically found in nature such as cracks in rocks, openings in trees, or underneath tree bark. They’re not picky because their primary goal is to find warmth and any gap or crack will do particularly the gaps or cracks around windows, doors, along foundation, loose siding, and places where cables or pipes go into walls all fit the bill especially if they are located on the south or west sides of the home.
Some of the common fall insect invaders such as boxelder bugs, lady beetles, and cluster flies typically don’t cause any structural damage and are generally considered more of an annoyance. If these nuisance pests find their way into your home the best way to deal with them once they are inside the home is to simply vacuum them up or use sticky traps along windows or areas they frequent. While using a bug “bomb” to treat the inside of a home can be tempting to be rid of the annoyance, it can backfire as you may end up with dead insects still inside walls which can then attract secondary pests such as carpet beetles which often feed on dead insects but are also inclined to dine on fabrics, stored food, and any animal product.
In most cases, the most effective and least hazardous pesticide applications for control of fall insect invaders is an outdoor application. These pesticides are applied to the ground in a band around foundations, foundation walls, and other points of entry including door and window frames, around vents, and where utility lines enter. Because success of pesticide application to home perimeters is dependent on proper timing one needs to be sure they are using the product when the insect pest is most likely to be entering the home. Also be sure that an effective product is being used (i.e. is labeled for the pest you are trying to eliminate) and ALWAYS REMEMBER: when pesticides are used, it is the applicator’s legal responsibility to read and follow directions on the product label.
A couple of other common heebie geebie inducing fall guests waiting to make your house their home too are mice and are you ready for it snakes! Eek! [Insert shudder] Snakes happen to be my least favorite uninvited critter. Thankfully, we don’t have venomous snakes that are natural to our area.
Tips for keeping these two unsolicited pests from your home are similar keep the perimeter of your home free of debris, fix door seals, seal foundation cracks as well as other holes in the exterior of the home. For rodents, it is generally recommended to plug holes with steel or copper mesh (i.e. steel wool) instead of easily penetrated spray foam sealants. A rule of thumb when sealing out mice is that “if a pencil can poke through, so can a mouse.”
When in doubt, pest infestations and control methods especially those being employed inside homes are best left up to pest management professionals.
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