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Over the Fence

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

Insects in the Home

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

The Master Gardeners have seen a clear rise in calls, emails and personal visits to the county extension offices from homeowners with a variety of questions about insects. With our outdoor flower gardens coming to a close, there are a great many insects that have been feeding on flower parts that are looking around for something else to eat or thinking about vacationing where it is warm, inside our homes. Insects are really responding to the environment when you see them gather on the warmer surfaces of our home and later find their way clear inside, they are following the heat.

Many of the insects being identified are not going to cause a problem indoors and in fact without the right conditions for their survival, will not survive but a few days to a few weeks inside living off of stored energy from feeding outdoors. When you examine these insects under a dissecting scope or hand lens, their mouth parts are pretty specialized and they cannot just start to munch away on indoor plants, get into our pantries and fabrics. When we do have problems with things like our houseplants, these are insects that came in side on the plants when we brought them indoors and started multiplying without any natural predators to keep them in check.

Spiders, Earwigs, Weevils of all sorts, crickets, and a lot of hard shelled beetles have shown up for identification and solutions. For the majority of insects, especially those that will not linger in the home, vacuuming them up or picking them up with toweling is often the simplest way to treat the problem. You will often find a collection of dead insects or insect parts in the corner of the room or in an out of the way place. This may be the work of a spider that is hiding out nearby. In nature, spiders are great predator insects.

All this insect traffic will subside once colder weather arrives and those insects will have found a place to overwinter outdoors. In those instances where a treatment is deemed necessary, use a product designed for outdoor use as a foundation spray around the home, focusing on those areas where an insect has easy access in side. Insects like those cracks and crevices. Door sills, sliding glass door rails, where the garage door seals against the concrete are all places that insects will congregate.

Other places to check are the caulking around the windows and doors, dryer vents and where the water spigot comes out of the siding.

A group of insects that could cause a problem late this fall and into early next year will be the pantry pests, which are grain beetles and the Indian meal moths. These insects will feed on products containing flour and grains in our pantries and cupboards. These insects will take several weeks for a population to get big enough for us to discover. We can accidentally bring these insects in side in the last of the flowers we harvest or when a dried flower arrangement is bought and brought home or in a bag of wild bird seed. There are no sprays that can be used for these insects inside our pantry and cupboards.



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