How to Send Winter Pests Packing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Six-legged pests want to share your warm home this winter.

University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Tamra Reall tells how to send crawling freeloaders packing.

These unwelcome visitors are mostly a lethargic nuisance. They do not bite, suck blood or spread disease. They like nice, dry spots, usually between your home’s walls. They go dormant and sleep throughout most of the winter. Occasionally, however, these wayward bugs become social and decide to hang out in the living area of your home. If that happens, remember the not-so-Emily-Post rule of thumb for hosts: Guests, like fish, start to stink after three days. Throw them out.

Insecticides and pesticides are likely ineffective. For best results, give them the boot by manually removing them. The vacuum cleaner is your ally in evicting these invaders.

Look for them on the sunny side of your home. They like heat that reflects off light-colored siding and glass. They like windowsills, door thresholds and other entry points. Caulking keeps them out and keeps the heat in. Put out the “no vacancy” sign by putting screens on doors, windows and vents.

These bugs like to spend their snowbird months in Missouri homes:

• Multicolored Asian lady beetle. This exotic ladybug is no lady. It varies in color from pale tan to deep reddish-orange. Some sport spots; others prefer to go au naturel.

• Boxelder bug. This native pest likes to live where boxelder (a common maple) trees grow. They are mostly black with red-edged wings.

• Cluster fly. Black, hairy and a little larger than houseflies, they like to hang together, as their name implies.

• Brown marmorated stink bug. These stink bugs really do stink. A lot. They also will make your vacuum cleaner smell vile too, so remove them by hand or use this technique recommended by Virginia Tech researchers: Fill a foil roasting pan with water and a few drops of dish soap. Place the pan where bugs are present and point a light into it. The light attracts bugs and they will fall into the soapy water and drown. To watch a 20-second video demonstration, go to vimeo.com/92354801.

For more information, contact Reall at [email protected] or visit extension.missouri.edu/insects.