Most people are annoyed when lady beetles, boxelder bugs, crickets, various stinkbugs, or spiders invade their homes this time of year in an attempt to escape the cooler weather outside. The first thing most people think of when trying to prevent a pest problem is, “WHICH INSECTICIDE DO I SPRAY?” There are other things that should be done, however, to help prevent the pest problem that may even eliminate the need for an insecticide application. Insect-proofing your home is the BEST way to prevent unwanted pest invaders at this time of year. Some pest-proofing guidelines to follow to stop these invaders include:
Outdoors, try to eliminate entryways used by pests:
1. Inspect and repair all caulking around windows, doors, attic vents, and utility openings. Expanding foam products can be helpful.
2. Inspect and repair weather stripping around doors and windows.
3. Repair all window, door, and vent screens.
4. Repair loose siding or foundation cracks that may act as an entry point.
5. Copper gauze may be used for holes that are too large for caulking or may require air movement through the opening (weep holes of brick veneer). Steel wool is not recommended if conditions for rust exist.
6. The use of residual insecticides labeled for perimeter application can also provide a barrier to prevent pest entry.
Indoors, try to eliminate areas that can harbor insects or serve as food or moisture sources:
1. Seal indoor cracks and crevices to eliminate harborage sites.
• This will reduce the need for repeated pesticide applications to these areas.
• It also forces hiding insects to relocate and increases their likelihood of exposure to other management strategies.
2. Eliminate any plumbing leaks or other sources of moisture that provide an essential resource to the invaders.
3. Make sure food is stored properly and garbage cans have tight-fitting lids.
If the above-listed maintenance and sanitation guidelines are carried out, pests will be discouraged or prevented from invading in the first place.
However, if nuisance pests do get inside:
In large numbers:
1. They can be vacuumed up, and the vacuum bag can be discarded outside.
2. Line vacuum hose with a stocking and insects will be conveniently bagged.
3. NO INSECTICIDE RECOMMENDED! Many insects will die in inaccessible places, making cleanup impossible; and these dead insects will serve as a food source for other pest insects, like dermestid beetles.
In low numbers, or individually:
1. Pests can be swept up and removed, or
2. Treated with an over the counter aerosol insecticide and removed.
3. Over-the-counter residual insecticides labeled for “crack and crevice” and/or “surface treatment” may also provide relief (low numbers only).
Finally, insect-proofing – or preventing nuisance pests from gaining entry in the first place – is the BEST control strategy against insects trying to invade your home to escape the cooling weather.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. For more information, you can contact the Van Buren County Extension office at (501)745-7117.