Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fall Invaders: Insects in the Home by Mary Small

Box Elder Bug Photo clemson.edu

When days shorten and temperatures become chilly, folks often find uninvited guests – insects and their relatives- sharing indoor quarters. Although annoying and even startling, these creatures are just trying to hunker down for winter. They need to find shelter where temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees F. The west and south sides of a home can provide warm places to hang out as they search for prime real estate. They don’t need much of an opening on the home exterior to find it, either.  Many can squeeze into quarters using an opening the width of a credit card!
The best way to manage the intruders is to keep them out in the first place.  Look for exterior openings around windows, doors, etc., and caulk them. Examine door sweeps. Can you see light underneath the door? It’s time to replace the sweeps.  These steps will help keep the unwanted critters out and you’ll be increasing energy conservation, too!

You can also vacuum them up or apply a flyswatter or back of a shoe to the wandering insects. Pesticides don’t work well since they are in hibernation mode and their physiology is slowed. Their slower speed also makes it easier to apply the vacuum, flyswatter or shoe treatment mentioned above.
Here are some of the more common indoor pests:
Conifer Seed Bug Photo whatsthatbug.com
Conifer Seed Bug
These insects are fairly large – about ¾ inch, with enlarged hind legs. When disturbed, they give off a piney odor, but they don’t reproduce indoors, feed on anything or bite. 
Root Weevil Photo CSU Extension
Root Weevils
There are several species of root weevils that wander inside, so range in size from ¼ inch to ½ inch. Most are brown or black brown in color. Like the conifer seed bugs, they don’t reproduce indoors, feed on anything or bite.
Boxelder Bugs
Ranking high on the annoyance scale, these black and red bugs are often found in congregations, rather than individuals, like the conifer seed bug. They can stain light colored surfaces, crawl on walls, tv sets and dive-bomb unsuspecting readers positioned near a lighting fixture.  They don’t reproduce indoors and rarely bite humans. 
Spiders
For most, these are probably the most scary of the uninvited housemates. Usually they don’t last long indoors unless there is food (read: insects).Spiders are around all year, but it is not until late in the season when the adults seem more apparent than the smaller juveniles as they look for shelter.  Adult males are also hunting for a mate, so they are often observed this time of year simply because they are moving around a lot. Spiders can bite and some can cause injury, but in our area, only the black widow is venomous. 

For more information about insect pests, check this CSU Insect Web site.