Here’s how to keep insects out of your home this winter
In the warmer months, Greater Lansing residents struggle with mosquitos and ants – some also endure bees, wasps and termites. Now that winter is around the corner, there are an entirely different set of mistakes to look out for.
Bob Yoakam is the “Lansing Bug Man” – his pest control business deals mostly with insect problems during the spring and summer, but he gets more house calls this time of year.
“Now that it’s so cold, they’re already in your house,” said Yoakam.
So what are the beetles to watch out for in winter? And how do you get rid of them once they’re inside? Read on to learn the five most common winter bugs in Greater Lansing and how to keep them away from your home.
The 5 most common winter beetles
Gary Parsons is the director of the MSU Bug House, part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where you can learn about all types of insects and arachnids and interact with live specimens.
According to Parsons, the five most common mistakes found in Michigan homes during the colder months are:
- Beetle the Box Elder
- Colorful Asian ladybugs (ladybugs)
- Brown marbled stink bugs
- Western conifer seed bugs
- Cluster flies
Each of these beetles has adult stages in winter, which makes them mobile and motivated to overcome or avoid cold and rain and snow.
Most want a dry place to hibernate, where they know they are protected. Some can get into the bark of trees or a fallen log. In particular, stink bugs are known to hibernate in rocks such as the crevices of a cliff.
Ladybugs and stink bugs are tasteless, which means pets can get sick if they overeat. However, these are mostly harmless, said Parsons.
These bugs consider houses just one more place to spend the winter because they can feel the warmth. They usually only spend the winter indoors.
This is how you prevent bugs from entering
Obvious entry points for insects are where electricity, water, or air conditioning enters the home, Yoakam said. Sealing and caulking holes around these openings is a good first step towards a beetle-free home, but it’s not as safe as using a pesticide, he said.
Other common places for insects to sneak in are warped side walls or windows and doors that aren’t well insulated. Parsons said stink bugs got into his house through ventilation pipes in the roof. He recommends sealing off any cracks that insects could enter.
Parsons said that beetles tend to prefer south or west facing sides of the house, as those areas get more sun in winter. He also uses a mesh screen over his attic vents and other openings to keep insects out of his home.
“The first thing you should do is keep them from getting into the house,” he said.
Once inside, bugs emit an attractive pheromone to help other bugs find the safe, warm area and then it’s time to get them out.
How to remove bugs
“We do not advocate the use of pesticides,” said Parsons. “It has little influence on these things anyway.” He said there are more effective ways to deal with insects indoors that leave no residue.
According to Parsons, the best way to control the bugs that have already made it into your home is to vacuum them up or trap them in some sort of container to take outside. These bugs die in the cold so you don’t have to worry about them coming back.
Parsons warns residents not to crush bugs – stink bugs and ladybugs in particular can leave stains, not to mention possible smells.
Yoakam, the Lansing Bug Man, takes a slightly different approach to bug control: “Without a pesticide to keep a bug out of a house, I don’t know of any other way to be honest,” he said.
More about errors in the greater Lansing area
To learn more about how to keep bugs out of your home this winter, visit the Lansing Bug Man website or the MSU Bug House. For more resources on errors in general, including tips on how to keep them away from home, see the MSU extension website.
Sophia Lada is a news assistant at Lansing State Journal. Contact them at [email protected] or 517.377.1065. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_lada.