Andrew Westfall column sig

As nighttime temperatures continue to dip this fall season, you will begin to notice more insects and spiders making their bold move into homes, seeking a nice warm spot to spend the winter.

These fall trespassers are called overwintering insects. They spend the winter as dormant adults who sleep through the cold months waiting to head back outside when spring arrives. Their resting area requires temperatures that stay between 40 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for hibernation, which is usually the spot between the inside and outside walls of the house or a garage.

However, in their travels they often end up in undesired locations like our kitchens and living rooms. Be assured that none of these insects that are most common are harmful to humans, pets or the house, they are just aggravating to deal with.

Some of the more common home invaders include: Asian lady beetles, box elder bugs, brown stink bugs, and a number of menacing (but usually harmless) spiders.

Now is a good time to check around the home for potential entry points, as just like in sports, when it comes to keeping bugs out of the house, a good defense is also the best offense.

A few common things to check around the home are old window frames and doorways that may need re-caulked. Also, check for damage around siding, soffits, window screens and exterior door sweeps along, along with unprotected vents.

Using insecticides for these pests is often ineffective and not recommended, as their life processes slow for hibernation, making the metabolization of chemicals inefficient. However, this does make them easier to catch as they are moving slower than normal.

Should a spider find its way into the home, it is recommended (if possible) to gently move it back outside, as a spider can be your ally in suppressing insect populations. Other insects, such as Asian lady beetles and stink bugs, should be removed carefully as they can emit a foul odor if smashed or harmed.

Been bitten by a tiny, black bug?

Have you been outside recently and experienced a painful bite, only to find a barely visible, tiny black bug on your skin?

The culprit was most likely the “insidious flower bug.” The bug is present throughout the warm season, usually using their straw-like mouth to suck fluids from their prey, usually small soft-bodied insects like aphids.

With the cooler temperatures leading to a decline of aphids and other similar insects, the insidious flower bug is looking for its final meals before winter.

The good news is that these bugs aren’t literally biting you, or sucking blood, or injecting toxins, rather it is more of a “poke.”

The bad news is, those with sensitive skin may get a welt where they are poked, and it can be somewhat painful.

In terms of controlling these pests, repellents are often reported as ineffective and insecticides aren’t practical since it’s difficult to pinpoint where the bug if coming from.

So unfortunately, we may just be at the mercy of that first frost to rid us of the pest.

Andrew Westfall is director of Purdue Extension White County (Ind.).

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