As October continues and temperatures cool down, nuisance pests will seek shelter in your homes and garages. With cooler nights approaching, stink bugs, Asian lady beetles and boxelder bugs will be sneaking into your home through cracks and crevices.
Stink bugs have 6 legs and look like a cross between a cockroach and a bug. Asian lady beetles are similar to lady bugs but have an orange body. Box elder bugs are black with orange stripes on their back. All three are annoying intruders which enter our homes through any area they can squeeze into. The best defense against these pests is to seal cracks around windows, door jams, air vents and anywhere else with a good quality caulk.
These pests are not hazardous to humans and do not bite. Stink bugs can have a foul odor when agitated and the beetles emit a terrible scent when squashed and they can stain walls and counters. Sprays like Bonide's "eight" can be sprayed on exteriors of homes as a preventative measure. I also like Hi yields "Bug Blaster Bifenthrin 2.4" for a broad-spectrum spray as well. The Bifenthrin seems to have a longer residual. For bugs inside the home, stink bug traps are available and should be placed near a light to draw bugs to them. After being trapped they will dehydrate for easy disposal. Household insect controls will work for Asian lady beetles.
Ants seem to be attacking homes as well. I like to use Hy yield's Ant Killer Granules or Ortho's Home Defense in granular or ready-to-spray bottle forms. Simply sprinkle or spray around your foundation. Once this is done, a barrier is formed, and ants stay away.
Spiders are seeking shelter as well or are in search of prey for food and can enter homes. Many of my clients have reported larger than normal spiders in mass quantities this year. Although unsettling to some, keep in mind, spiders are beneficial predators which help to keep pest populations down. Spiders do not bite unless you inadvertently sit on one or they are confronted with your hand or foot and initiate the fight instead of flight defense mechanism. Concerned citizens should wear gloves and long-sleeved shirts as they go through boxes of stored items in attics and basements to avoid the possibility of a bite from a newly acquired spider home. Ortho offers a Home Defense Ant, Roach and Spider Killer that works well as a curative and sanitizes non-food areas. Miss Muffet's revenge is also a great spider killer as well.
Yellow jackets are being reported on many pines this time of year. A closer examination reveals oyster shell scale is present. This scale forms an impenetrable shell which houses the insect. Its excrement of honey dew attracts bees in droves. Usually, you will find a black sooty mold will form on branches as well. Eliminate the scale and the bees will go as well. The bad thing is, you must spray when the scale insect is in the "crawler" stage. This occurs in late May to early June. An application of horticultural oil at this time will eliminate this pest. As for bees that are present now.... the only defense for them on the pines is to locate the nest and spray with a hornet and wasp killer.
Bedbugs seem to be another pest on the rise this season. These creatures can be brought in on luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. These small pests come out at night and are blood hungry. They pierce the skin and extract blood from their victims. These bugs date back to the 17th century. Populations of these pests were dramatically reduced prior to World War II thanks to widespread use of synthetic pesticides such as DDT. They are classified as a major pest now in the U.S. and seem to be multiplying. No pesticide is labeled for use on bedding or linens. Bedbug killers are available to spray on mattresses if you have an infestation.
Mice seem to be seeking new warm homes too this time of the year. Traps exist which still are a great curative solution but are kind of nasty to empty. Bonide has made a new repellent called "Mouse Magic" Made of natural ingredients, these packets last for weeks and are safe to use around children and pets. They can be used in campers, stored boats or cars, garages, cottages, storage sheds or anywhere you want to protect an area from mice. I have heard good responses from the use of this product.
I hope these tips give you an idea of what to do should you encounter any of these pests. My dad always taught me an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you feed your lawn this weekend if you haven' t done so, as well as your trees and shrubs. I cannot stress enough how important a fall feeding is for your lawn. It's also a great time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Decorate your home for fall with mums, cornstalks and pumpkins. Enjoy these sunny days before they are gone. Who knows what this winter will bring!