Spring! Just as birds and frogs and flowers have begun to show up in all their glory, tractors emerged from their hiding places as well. There was a lot of field work going on the past few days to prepare soil for planting. And there have also been a few more pesky creatures emerging too.
Actually for some of us, they never really went away during winter. But you may have noticed there has been an increase in the number of insect pests, such as brown marmorated stink bugs, boxelder bugs, multicolored Asian lady beetles, and pine seed bugs that mysteriously appear inside your home.
Questions about these bugs are common in the Extension office. My colleague Chris Penrose, Agriculture and Natural Resources educator in Morgan County, shares some information about these insects and what you can do.
All accidental invaders found inside at this time entered the home or building last fall through cracks and openings, and spent the winter hibernating behind exterior siding and in attics, wall voids, window/door casings, and similar protected areas. With the onset of warmer weather, the bugs become active and emerge from their overwintering sites. In my home the pest of choice is the multicolored Asian lady beetle, but I’ve had plenty of conversations with many of you about stink bugs.
According to Penrose, “Accidental invaders are generally harmless to people and property. They do not feed on people, pets, houseplants, stored products, or furnishings. They cannot sting and they do not carry disease. They are nuisances just by their presence, especially when they occur in large numbers.”
We live in an age of immediate gratification. It can be so tempting to seek immediate and complete relief from the annoyance of accidental invaders. Unfortunately, this simply is not possible, since the bugs are emerging from hidden areas that are inaccessible to insecticides. Household foggers or bug bombs will not penetrate and control pests in these areas. Residual sprays generally kill invaders too slowly to be considered successful.The frustration of invader insects is usually temporary as the nuisance will run its course as the weather warms. The boxelder bug and Asian lady beetle can emit a substance that can stain surfaces, making a broom less desirable. The pine seed bugs can give off a pungent odor if you handle them. Repeated vacuuming may seem inefficient and monotonous, but remains the most practical control.
Penrose also reminds us that insects that emerge from overwintering sites inside a home during winter and spring all entered the building the previous fall. The preferred management for accidental invaders is prevention; stop them before they enter the house. Typical exclusion or pest-proofing the home is the first line of defense.