Fall Congregating Invaders
As winter approaches and temperatures start to fall, a number of insects seek out houses to over-winter. They will gather in huge numbers on sunny fall days to prepare for the dormant season. These fall congregating invaders will soon enter under the siding or window & door frames and spend the winter as your guests in the walls of your home. The following insects all have this habit:
Box Elder Bug
This bug is about 1/2 inch long with black and red markings on the thorax. During the summer it spends its time feeding on box elder or silver maple trees. When fall arrives, it also hibernates under siding of houses in great numbers. (Image © Alberto Nieves/Dreamstime.com)
There are many varieties in the family of insects commonly referred to as “Stink Bugs”. The one most commonly seen in our area is large (1” long) and mostly brown in coloration with distinctive markings on the back of its wings. It is rarely seen in the summer while it feeds in pine trees. When fall arrives these bugs will gather on the sunny side of the house for weeks in large numbers. At some point they will all slip under the siding to hibernate. Like all of these types of insects, they will wake up on sunny winter days as the walls warm up and enter the living space of the house. (Image © Amanda Melones/Dreamstime.com)
Cluster Flies are large black flies that hatch from the lawn in the fall and will enter structures to winter in attics and wall voids in “clusters”. On sunny winter days they wake up from the warmth and gather at windows to get out. They are extremely annoying because of the huge numbers that can be present. (Image courtesy NPMA)
There are actually over 400 species of this common, easily recognized insect and the vast majority of them are beneficial as they consume aphids and other small garden pests. The Asian Lady Beetle was actually released in some states in 1916 and 1964 to help control crop damage. Unfortunately, this species also likes to over-winter in homes and will bite. It also emits a foul-smelling oil when disturbed which can stain light-colored surfaces. (Image © Madeleine Mattsson/Dreamstime.com)
All of the fall-congregating pests are treated in the same manner. Timing is the key to controlling these pests. A properly timed residual application on the exterior walls of your home each fall will create a protective barrier and minimize problems with these creatures, stopping most of them before they get inside. Otherwise, once they’re inside, pesticide applications offer minimal help so the vaccuum cleaner is your best bet until next fall. Planning ahead is key!