You may have noticed your home being invaded by an assortment of pests this fall, including Asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs, crickets, spiders and black soldier beetle larvae. These creatures typically visit homes that provide easy entry this time of year, often seeking refuge from changing weather.
Pest proofing your home is the most efficient way to keep these critters out. A swatter, broom or vacuum cleaner and trash container will take care of pests that occasionally wander indoors. It’s best to deal with boxelder bugs and lady beetles outside, before they enter your home.
Following these guidelines will help pest proof your home or place of business and some may even help you conserve energy and increase the comfort level this fall and winter.
Install door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all exterior entry doors, paying particular attention to the bottom corners that are a common entry location. Insects and spiders can enter through a gap of one-sixteenth of an inch or less. Get down on the floor and check for light entering under doors; this indicates possible pest entryways.
To close other potential pest entries, apply caulk on the bottom outside edges and sides of door thresholds; fit garage doors with a rubber bottom seal because vinyl doesn’t seal well in the winter; and line the bottom track of sliding glass doors with foam weather stripping ½ to ¾ inch wide to seal any gaps.
Utility openings where pipes and wires enter the foundation and siding are common entry points for spiders, ants, yellow jackets and rodents. You can use caulk, cement, urethane expandable foam, steel wool and copper mesh to plug openings around outdoor faucets, receptacles, gas meters, clothes dryer vents and telephone or cable television wires.
Apply a good-quality silicone or acrylic latex caulk to cracks around windows, doors, fascia boards and other openings. Before you apply the caulk, clean existing caulk, and remove any that’s peeling to aid adhesion. Be sure to use a good caulking gun. Desirable features are a back-off trigger to stop caulk when desired, a built-in “slicer” to remove the tip from new caulking tubes, and a nail to puncture the seal within. These guns are available for less than $10.
To reduce the entry of lady beetles, cluster flies and other overwintering pests, repair gaps and tears in window and door screens. Keep windows closed when adults are emerging to prevent entry. Repairing screens also will keep out flies, gnats, mosquitoes and midges next summer.
Another way to prevent pest entry is to apply an exterior barrier treatment with insecticides. To gain the most from this effort, apply long-lasting liquid formulations that contain synthetic pyrethroids. These products are available at some hardware, lawn and garden shops.
If you apply the barrier treatment, use a compressed air or hose-end sprayer to treat the base of all exterior doors, garage, crawl space entrances, foundation vents, utility openings and beneath siding. It’s also useful to treat the outside perimeter of the foundation with a two- to six-foot wide band along the ground and two to three feet up the foundation wall.
If you prefer not to tackle these pest-proofing activities, contact a professional pest control firm. Many firms are beginning to offer pest-proofing services.
Submitted by Lee Townsend and Mike Potter, Extension Entomology Specialist’s, University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology