Tips on how to keep bugs out of your home

If you spent this past winter finding multicolored Asian lady beetles on your lampshades, brown marmorated stink bugs on your toaster, there’s bad news and good news.

The bad news, CFAES experts said, is that Ohio’s colder than normal winter probably didn’t faze them. 

When the winds blew, snow flew and temperatures fell below zero, they were mostly snug in your attic or walls, sheltered from the storm. It’s why they sneaked in, to begin with.

The good news is, with warm weather arriving, they’ll be leaving your house to return outdoors, and you can take steps to keep them from getting back in.

“Summer is a good time to bug-proof your home,” said Joe Boggs, entomologist, and educator with CFAES’s Ohio State University Extension outreach arm.

For starters, Boggs said, “I always tell people to go up in their attic with the lights off, so they can look around and see if any light is coming through (from the outside).”

Seeing light coming in where it shouldn’t mean there’s a gap, an entry point into your home. 

Come fall, stink bugs and lady beetles could use that gap to get in, so could western conifer seed bugs and boxelder bugs, among others.

Common places for gaps are window frames, doorjambs, soffits and unscreened attic vents.

Soffits themselves may have small, bug-proof vent holes in them that let in light, and that’s okay, Boggs said, but if you see light streaming in where the soffits meet the wall, it could be a problem. 

Attic vents let light through, too, but need to be screened against bugs. 

“I also tell people to consider walking around the outside of their home and taking a look,” said Boggs. “Even on a 10-year-old home, the caulking can start pulling away from the windows and doors.”

The solution, he said, is to get out your caulk gun and fill in the gaps.

In Ohio and much of the United States, brown marmorated stink bugs and multicolored Asian lady beetles are common fall home invaders.

They seek safe, secure places for spending the winter that is neither too cold nor too hot, like an unheated attic. 

There, they conserve stored fat, in groups of dozens or hundreds. 

Neither species is native to Ohio or North America; both are invasive species from Asia.

Neither is venomous.

But both can emit a stink, can stain your carpet or wall if crushed and often are a nuisance with their pop-in visits.

Outside in summer, brown marmorated stink bugs are crop pests, while multicolored Asian lady beetles eat crop pests, specifically aphids.

CFAES scientist Andy Michel said his hunch is that brown marmorated stink bugs are “really hardy” and “can survive pretty well in cold temperatures.”

Multicolored Asian lady beetles, too, are apparently winter-tough.

While their populations have fallen since the explosions of the 1990s, “the outside temperature doesn’t seem important in terms of their overall survival,” said Boggs. 

When it comes to cold weather, he said, “We know they can dodge the bullet. They’re even a problem in Minnesota.”


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