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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Keep Bugs Outside This Winter

It is time for the annual ladybug invasion. Every year there seems to be some outbreak of critters that want in our home: ladybugs last year and boxelder bugs before that. In addition, mice will start coming in soon too. Here are some tips on how to keep bugs outside this winter.

Cooler weather prompts bugs and rodents to seek winter quarters. Often this results in their moving indoors with us. Spiders, millipedes, sowbugs, boxelder bugs, Asian lady beetles, and mice would all like to share your home with you this winter. Take time now, while the weather is still amenable, to prepare your home for this invasion.

Conduct fall-cleaning activities. Sweep spider webs away from windows and corners. Rake the accumulated leaves and grass away from the foundations. These activities eliminate hiding places, eggs, and easy access to your house by the pests.

The best way to keep critter out of your home is to prevent their entrance by caulking around windows and doors and at the top of the foundation. This will help keep out drafts, too. Be sure weather-seals at the bottoms of doors are tight. To keep mice from entering the house, cover all holes that are at least as big as the diameter of a lead pencil. Place ΒΌ inch wire mesh, smaller screening, or sheet metal around pipes and over ventilators or other holes.

Most pests that do get indoors die in a few days. However, boxelder bugs, ladybugs, and spiders may live indoors all winter. It is usually not advisable to spray them once they are in your home. The simplest way to eliminate them is to vacuum them up. Try not to crush boxelder bugs and ladybugs as they leave a stain and odor. These insects do not feed or reproduce indoors and are only seeking shelter. Spiders, on the other hand, will continue their normal habits, but only if they have insects on which they can live.

For mice, trapping is the most effective method of eliminating small numbers of mice, but sanitation is equally important. Store food in tight closing containers. Do the dishes daily and always wipe up crumbs from tables and counter tops. Remove nesting sites in garages and around the home or other buildings.

Finally, if all the above methods are used and a mouse still gets in the home, the preferred manner of control is baiting or trapping. Placement of baits and traps is key.

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