Pests makes themselves a nuisance to people for all kinds of different reasons. Some are looking for water or food, some want shelter, and some need a safe place to reproduce. If you want to figure out why you have a pest infestation, you’ve got to think like a pest. You have to figure out what they want.
When it comes to Midwestern pests, figuring out what they want is pretty easy. They want what all of us want: to stay warm. Early winter tends to be one of the worst times of year for pest infestations in the Midwest. Right now, pests are making a desperate, last-ditch effort to find a warm winter getaway. If you’re not paying attention, that getaway could be your house! These are the most tenacious terrorizers we deal with every winter, and how to leave them out in the cold.
The stink bug is a recent nemesis of the Midwest, but they’ve made up for lost time quickly. Stink bugs survive winter by entering a type of hibernation called diapause. While maintaining diapause, stink bugs stay motionless for long periods of time. That means they won’t feed or reproduce over the winter. The bad news? When stink bugs find a nice place to overwinter, they release an aggregation pheromone. This pheromone acts like a beacon for other nearby stink bugs. It’s kind of a compliment, but we’re guessing you won’t be too moved by it.
Stink bugs sneak in through little gaps, especially around windows. If you feel cool air or see condensation near a window, that window’s probably leaking. Re-seal or replace compromised windows and make sure your weatherstripping isn’t damaged. Use caulk to seal cracks on the window frame. Sealing windows is an important way to keep all kinds of pests out, so the work is worth it!
Asian Lady Beetles
Everyone knows lady beetles; they’re the annoying, aggressive version of ladybugs. Like stink bugs, asian lady beetles come into homes looking for a place to hibernate. As a species native to subtropical eastern Asia, asian lady beetles are even more temperature-sensitive than most pests. They start looking for places to keep warm in early fall, but they don’t stop until they find a place or freeze. Asian lady beetles are attracted to bright, sunny places, and tend to congregate in great numbers.
Lady beetles don’t cause any major damage, but the sheer number that can enter your home can be distressing. Most lady beetles find their way into homes after gathering around illuminated surfaces. Big groups bunch up on illuminated surfaces outside homes, especially on parts of the home with southwestern exposure. Once there, beetles find cracks and gaps near their preferred surfaces by feeling heat coming from inside. Finding and fixing drafts around their preferred areas is the best way to keep lady beetles out.
Boxelder bugs are probably the most notorious fall pest. Every year around September or early October, hordes of these obnoxious bugs turn up on porches, decks, and windows. Like asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs seek out sunny areas. Buildings with southern and western sun exposure are known to attract boxelders. Boxelder bugs eat the seeds of acer trees like ash, maple, and (obviously) boxelders. If one of those trees grows near your home, you should expect heavy boxelder activity, even into early winter.
Boxelders can fly several blocks, and climb or rest on sheer surfaces. During fall, they’ll often try to enter homes through cracks in walls or rooftops. Usually, the gaps boxelders find are close to areas where they group together for warmth. That means they crawl in near–you guessed it–windows and door frames. Boxelders tend to be particularly attracted to porches with heavy sun exposure. Sealing door and window frames will help make sure the annoying bug can’t bother you indoors this winter.
Rats and mice are notorious for infiltrating buildings during the fall and winter to steal food and keep warm. Mice are incredibly good at sneaking into and out of buildings. They’re excellent climbers, they can squeeze through dime-sized holes, and they can chew through wood, plastic, and plaster. Mice and rats have keen senses that attract them to structures where they can attain food and water. They’re also more likely to infest areas with cover, darkness, and places to hide.
The best thing you can do to keep rats away this winter is keep a disciplined cleaning schedule. Vacuum and/or mop cooking and eating areas regularly. Keep pantry foods like grains and breads stored in hard plastic, airtight packages. Make sure your basement and attic are clean and clear of clutter. Have plumbing or air leaks patched immediately. Keep an eye out for gaps, especially around where utility lines enter the home. Seal gaps with caulk or steel wool.
Winter really doesn’t cut us any breaks, does it? Now on top of snow shoveling, traffic, and everything else, you have to worry about pests? It doesn’t seem fair. Remember, however, that you’re never on your own, even in the dead of winter. Pests don’t take breaks, so neither do we.
If you discover pests living in your home any time this winter, just give Varment Guard a call. Our experts can drive any pest and make sure they stay out, for this winter and all the winters to come. Stay warm!BACK TO BLOG