It has been a busy, and cold, winter but spring is almost here! The weather is warming up and the insects are emerging from their overwintering sites. Many times these sites are our homes. There are several insect species that overwinter as adults. They get into structures during the fall when temperatures drop and settle down for the winter. Now, as the temperatures begin to stay warm, the resting insects want to get outside and continue their life cycles. Unfortunately, they don’t always remember how they got into the structure and they begin wandering about. Many will end up inside the living areas of the home because they are attracted to the warmth and light.
You may come home from work one day and find hundreds of lady beetles, some stink bugs, or a few paper wasps flying around beating their little heads against the windows trying to get out. There is no need to panic though, because these insects are only concerned about getting outside. If they don’t, they usually die in about a day or two because there is no food available for them inside your house. Lady beetles feed on plant pests such as aphids and mealy bugs. They usually do not bite, but if one gets trapped accidentally in your clothing it may give a little pinch. Stink bugs feed on different types of plants and they do not bite people. If you kill them, they produce a foul odor so you should remove the dead ones. Paper wasps, of course, can sting but when they are trapped inside your house they usually are not aggressive. They are most aggressive when they are protecting a nest and since there is no nest, they are only concerned with getting outside. They will sting in defense, however, especially if they are accidentally stepped on or one is on the couch and you sit on it.
When these insects are inside your home at this time of year, it is best not to use a lot of insecticides because if you kill a bunch of them and their dead bodies get trapped in wall voids and other inaccessible areas this will attract other insects that you really do not want in your home, such as carpet beetles. You will want to remove the insects with a vacuum as you see them, but empty the vacuum regularly or it will begin to smell bad. This removal process could be a daily chore for a few days until all of the insects come out of hiding. Once the insects are gone, then you should work on fortifying your home before overwintering insects decide to come inside again next fall. Make sure all openings around the roof are sealed or screened. Fix any water damaged areas and make sure eave vents and gable vents are fitted properly and in good condition. When you have your pest control service done in the fall, be sure to remind your Terminix professional that you have had a problem with overwintering pests and a preventative treatment needs to be done.
As spring progresses, we will start to see other unwanted home invaders – termites! Check back next month for some tips on getting ready for termite season. Now get out and enjoy the sunshine!