Like nature’s clockwork, different pests show up to plague us in different seasons. In the summer, mosquitoes, ants, and hornets buzz, swarm, and creep around your property (and sometimes your head). And then, just as you’re preparing for the coming chill of fall, there’s a whole new crop of bugs to contend with, all of them eager to invade your home.
With the autumn season in full swing, it’s important to protect your home and garden and let pests know to stay in their lane.
“As the weather cools, certain bugs begin to make their way indoors,” says Amie Best, a vice president of research and development at Spectrum Brands. “Pay attention to the area that surrounds your home this season, since your home gives fall pests ideal conditions for survival—a warm habitat in the cold and wet months of the year.”
Best says bugs and pests can get in through your foundation, basement, roofline, vents, exhaust, chimney, and other entry points on your home. They can also appear in cracks and crevices, along baseboards, under sinks, and behind stoves and refrigerators. Outdoors they can appear on surfaces of screens, doors and window frames, porches, and patios.
With so much going on this year, the last thing you need is an onslaught of pests moving in on your turf. Keep cozy and warm this fall, and be on the lookout for the following pests.
Beetles come in a remarkable number of shapes, sizes, colors, and types. Some are attracted to stored grains and packaged foods, while others like to nibble on garden plants, fabric, and wood. What do they have in common? Most would just love to spend some time as uninvited houseguests.
“Beetles in the egg, nymph, and adult stages can enter diapause (hibernation) in the winter, but most adult beetles will try to survive the winter by seeking shelter in your home,” says Josh Matta, an entomologist. “Make sure to look out for beetles, which may pop up along baseboards, edges of carpeting, under rugs and furniture, in closets, and on shelving.”
Species like the cucumber beetle, Mexican beetle, Colorado potato beetle, and flea beetle may pop up in your yard or garden. For example, the cucumber beetle feeds on squash and (sometimes) melons and spreads a bacterial wilt disease and mosaic virus that can kill plants.
“To protect your lawn and gardens, spray insecticide during the mornings, when insects are sluggish and will not fly away easily. Be sure to read and follow instructions on the label,” says Matta.
2. Boxelder bugs
These half-inch-long bugs are black with orange or red markings with flat, overlapping wings and three stripes behind the head.
“A hassle for homeowners, boxelder bugs invade garages, attics, and walls,” says Matta. “They tend to seek shelter in the cracks and crevices in and around building foundations.”
However, he says, if there is a break in cold conditions, the bugs may come out of hibernation and move into the warmer environment in your home.
Matta says to be sure to check the following cracks and crevices in your home: dark corners of rooms and closets, along and behind baseboards, beneath kitchen appliances, inside cabinets, and around plumbing.
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The look of a centipede—with its many tiny legs—is enough to give people the heebie-jeebies. But they’re also sneaky critters, so watch out.
“As temperatures get colder, centipedes will seek out a moist shelter, most commonly your basement,” says Matta.
To stop these insects dead in their tracks, Matta suggests using a protectant like Spectracide Bug Stop Home Barrier ($8.37, Home Depot).
“It is most important to protect your foundation,” says Matta. “Apply a continuous band of insecticide around building foundations and around windows, doors, utility line entrances, eaves, vents, and other areas to reduce the potential for entry by crawling pests.”
4. Stink bugs
Appropriately enough, stink bugs get their name for the gross odor they produce when threatened. You definitely don’t want to live with those pests inside closed doors and windows this fall.
“Stink bugs often look for quiet places in your home such as attics and wall cracks and crevices. Stink bugs also release pheromones signaling other stink bugs to come seek shelter in their preferred site,” says Matta.
To prevent stink bugs from invading your home, seal any entry points, eliminate moisture sites and food sources, and vacuum frequently. And if you do find a stink bug in your home, think twice before smashing it lest it releases its putrid odor.