The Red And Black Bugs Of Fall
General Pest Control
They come every fall, to stack up in piles on the window sills, crawl upon the walls, to dive down and hit you in the head, and crunch under your feet on the way to the car. They stain the curtain and the rug, and get into everything. What is the deal with boxelder bugs and ladybird beetles? Here is a quick rundown on each of these bugs, and what to do to avoid them.
Also known as ladybugs, Halloween beetles, and Asian lady beetles, these little bugs come in three colors: red, orange, and yellow. This beetle is known for its distinct oval shape and jet black polka dots. They are also known for their benefit to gardens. Lady beetles eat plant damaging aphids, and give birth to larvae, which eat even more plant damaging bugs. If you have a garden or a flower bed, this is a great insect to have around. They don't, however, belong in your house, or in your front yard. If squished, these bugs can stain fabrics and upholstery.
In the fall, lady beetles travel from all over the countryside, seeking a warm place to overwinter. That means the dozen or so beneficial ladybugs you've had in your garden, will turn into hundreds of pests in a matter of days. These beetles are attracted to brighter colored houses, or homes with lots of lights.
During the summer months these black pill shaped bugs, with their orange trim, live on the sides of boxelder and maple trees, where they lay their eggs and feed on leaves, flowers and seeds. These bugs are generally a nuisance for anyone with fruit trees, especially apple trees, because boxelder bugs pierce the skin of fruit, and mar them. Don't worry, it has no interest in piercing your skin. The worst this bug is going to do is leave a nasty stain on your shirt, curtains, rugs, and furniture.
In fall, boxelder bugs will congregate on the sun warmed side of trees, rocks, and buildings. When it gets cold enough, and after large masses have gathered, they will attempt to overwinter inside homes.
How do I keep ladybird beetles and boxelder bugs away this fall?
Inspect your window and door screens for the tiniest holes, and have them repaired before the fall invasion.
Inspect your door sweeps. They should have no gaps the entire length.
Inspect your weather stripping. Sometimes gravity will pull weather stripping down. Make sure you have no gaps at the top. Sometimes, especially with sliding doors, the weather stripping is not seated properly. This is easy enough to get fixed.
Use a caulking gun to seal gaps and cracks on your exterior walls and foundation. These bugs can slip past pipes, outlets, fixtures, vents, and gaps around windows.
Cover vents and chimney tops with window grade screening.
Have a professional spray your exterior walls or perimeter. This will keep these bugs from crawling on your house, and will prevent them from dislodging, and flying in through doors and windows when they are opened, or squeezing through rotted holes.
Talk with a pest management company. They can show you exclusion methods that are specific to your home and your situation. They also have the knowledge and gear to properly treat the weak areas of your home where exclusion isn't working. Ladybugs and boxelder bugs are great in nature, but you don't have to have them crawling all over your house in fall, or living in your house through winter. It doesn't cost anything to call a pro and learn more.
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