Understanding Insect Invaders
Whether it’s a single long-horned beetle or a horde of crickets, dealing with invading insects isn’t pleasant. As you dispatch the offenders and remain on “red alert” for other appearances, here’s a little more insight into what insects are seeking when they invade your home.
Insects Want Shelter
Insects entering your home in fall aren’t moving indoors with plans for feasting on you and your family. For the most part, insects that invade your home are seeking shelter.
During winter, insects hibernate in a state called diapause. Many insects that overwinter as adults alter the chemical composition of their blood, producing an antifreeze-like mixture that prevents them from freezing. This enables them to hibernate beneath leaf litter or tree bark and survive until spring, when their blood shifts back to its warm-weather components.
Despite these adaptations for winter survival, insects such as stinkbugs and box elder bugs tend to postpone hibernation and instead seek warmth as temperatures start to drop. That’s why they’ll often wander into your home.
Insects invading your home don’t reproduce during winter. Many won’t even survive. Those that do, however, will awaken from their long winter’s nap as they encounter warmer temperatures, which is why you’ll often be surprised by scampering insects on a sunny day in the middle of winter.
Moisture Plays a Role
Most insects have trouble regulating their body moisture, so they reside in damp places. This is why you’ll encounter many fall invaders, like elm leaf beetles, spiders, millipedes or crickets, in the basement. Keeping your basement as dry as possible will help reduce the influx of critters looking for a damp spot to spend the winter.
In living quarters, you’ll often encounter moisture-craving insects in the kitchen and bathroom. It’s not uncommon to discover centipedes, ants, or earwigs in the kitchen or bathroom sink. Make sinks less appealing by wiping them out with a towel after their final nightly use.
Predators vs. Prey
As you consider the insects you encounter in your home, determine if you’re dealing with migrating invaders or resident creatures. Insects such as grass bugs, ground beetles, wolf spiders and cluster flies are would-be hibernators who are pursuing cozy winter quarters. Centipedes, spiders, or silverfish spotted year-round are household pests existing on a food source inside your home.
When aiming to reduce resident pest populations, determine whether the insect is predator or prey. Centipedes and spiders feed on other insects. Eliminate their prey, and you’ll starve the predators. Silverfish, which live up to eight years, feast on damp bookbindings, cardboard, or starchy material. Reduce the dampness, and they’ll disappear.
Dealing With Invaders
What should you do when you encounter a crowd of invading insects? Swat flies, and crush spiders, ants, centipedes, crickets and silverfish. But take care when crushing silverfish, which stain light-colored surfaces. Millipedes dry up and curl into a ball that’s easily vacuumed.
Use caution when dispatching ground beetles, stink bugs or elder box bugs – all emit a foul odor if crushed. It’s best to catch or vacuum these critters. Seal your vacuum bag in a plastic bag that you remove from your home if you gathered massive numbers of these insects, because some will likely survive the suction and crawl out of the bag. You can also drop a few moth balls or cedar flakes into your vacuum bag to help poison any creatures you attack with the vac.
Even as you’re spotting invading pests, it’s not too late to apply home insect pest control – either indoors or out – to reduce and even eliminate further insect invasions.