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Over the Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Inside and Outside the Home

Posted by Sarah Navrotski -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

These warmer than average outside temperatures continue to mess with not just us, but with insects that should still be dormant for awhile longer. Calls and visits to Extension Master Gardeners have been about outdoor insects finding their way inside the home and some typical and not so typical indoor insects.

There have been the usual Box Elder bugs working their way through our outside walls and into the home. Box Elder bugs do not have anything to eat inside the home, but can and do leave fecal deposits behind as they move about the home, using up their reserves. If you are finding them dead, they have run out of juice so to speak. Finding them alive provides a couple of options. Hand picking them off the drapes and windows will work or you can use the nozzle on the vacuum to dispose of them.

Another very small insect seen inside after figuring out how to get in have been outdoor mites. You will find mites moving about the window sills where they seem to move effortlessly through cracks that we cannot imagine. The will look like tiny specks moving about, slowly at first, faster as they warm up once inside. These outdoor mites were feeding on our foundation plantings last summer and found our home siding and trim around the windows as an easy place to hide. Mites are not quite true insects, so if you are going make a spray treatment, be sure your Ready To Use aerosol spray will actually control them. Smashing them is not a good idea because they can leave a colored streak behind when you do.

It is pretty a typical time of year for some of our regular indoor pest to show up on our overwintering houseplants. Spider mites, just like their outdoor friends are very small and can cause webbing like appearance on brand new growth on our houseplants. They are around most of the time, but when there are no natural predators around as there would be when set outdoors for the summer, their populations really explode indoors seem to only get worse as our homes become dryer and dryer. Houseplants that are small can be carried to the kitchen sink and you can rinse off the mites with the sprayer attachment. Larger plants can be showered in the bathroom. This will have to be repeated every ten days or so until you do not see any more activity. Badly infested houseplants that are not a favorite can be composted.

The last indoor insect for the week is the Indian Meal Moth. These fall into the category of a pantry pest. It all starts with a flower product that has not been used for some time. The insect egg hatches into a larva that feeds and creates webbing in the product as it grows. Later the larva leaves the food stuff and pupates and turns into the flying moth. Many times this is the first clue that the pest is present in the pantry because they will be found flying around a light or at the kitchen window. A very thorough cleaning of the entire pantry is in order including finding the offending product(s) and getting them out of the house. The adult moth flies through the home laying eggs where the worm can hatch and survive. Besides the items in the pantry, dried flower arrangements (there are seeds in there) dog and cat food and a real common food source and during the winter, the wild bird seed we have on hand to feed the birds as well. Keeping the last three in the garage and or in container that seal are good preventative measures



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