Early fall mornings bring cool temperatures that even a warm afternoon sun cannot affect. In upstate New York, we are always reluctant to close up our homes until we absolutely must, and that makes for easy entry for common fall pests.
Take caution this fall
Living an outdoor life is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We are in our backyards, grilling to the deck and performing small projects around the house. Now take a moment and answer this question honestly:
Do I leave the garage door, the deck sliding door, or a window open as I am working around the house?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to our question, then you may be making it easier for pests and wildlife to enter your home. Most homeowners genuinely do not know how these invaders get into their homes. Then we ask that question, and it becomes clear. Let’s talk about the six most common fall pests, and then we will give you some tips on how to keep your home from being a refuge.
It is September, and stink bugs have returned to our backyards, decks, and homes. We have begun to receive calls from homeowners that stink bugs, often called brown shield bugs, are bombarding their afternoon activities and evening BBQ dinners. Stink bugs get their name from the very unpleasant odor they release when they are threatened or crushed. It may be a defense mechanism to ward off predators, but to homeowners, it is a nasty side effect of swatting them.
Stink bugs love windows, screens, and doorways. They can squeeze through the smallest spots and are as quick as lightning when a window or door is open.
Often called attic flies, cluster flies are 7-9 mm in length and light/dark gray. They are larger than houseflies yet nowhere near as quick. They look to come inside to escape the cool fall and cold winter days. Attic flies want to cluster in your warm spaces, so we often inspect the outside of your home to identify their entry points.
Cluster flies are skillful at finding ways of getting inside your home and patiently lay dormant waiting for spring. Should the weather warm, they awake and look to get outside, forcing them out of hiding and into your living space. Therefore, you see the flies in your home in the dead of winter.
Fall sightings of ladybugs are a sign of winter’s appearance. Ladybugs come out in the spring and bask in the warmth of the sun all summer long. As the temperatures begin to cool, you may find ladybugs inside the warmest, sun-filled areas of your home. We have one customer who sees them on the windowsills of the southwest corner of her home.
Ladybugs do not eat or chew on furniture or clothing. But ladybugs can be destructive and can appear in large numbers when searching for a hibernation spot. If the ladybugs feel threatened, they can secrete a yellow liquid that may stain light-colored surfaces. Homeowners complain about these stains on drapery, blinds, and windowsills. Ladybugs can also be dangerous to dogs.
We are swamped this time of year with service calls to remove bats. The thought of a bat in your home is frightening. It conjures up thoughts of fast-flying and swooping animals getting caught in your hair or biting you. Not so. Bats are voracious feeders- they love bugs! There are benefits to having bats around your home, but not in it.
Bats do not enter a house on purpose, but often following drafts of cold air on a warm summer night. Since they are nocturnal, you may not notice them entering your attic or eves via spaces as small as a quarter. When it gets too hot in the attic, they travel within the walls or vents looking for that cool airflow. They do not want to be in your human living area. There is little to feed on, and they prefer the environmental replication of a cool cave. They often time exit your home to feed on insects at night and return to your home that night so they can sleep during the day.
Mice love an open garage door or basement window. They are swift and flexible and can fit through a tiny opening. Homeowners easily identify mice because of the distinct sounds they make, such as scratching sounds over your head when you are sleeping or within your walls while watching TV at night. Note: mice love to hide!
Mice will cause severe structural damage to your home and business. They breed quickly, and the number of mice gnawing on wood, insulation, and electrical wires pose a serious threat. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists the many health threats that can occur through the spread of bacteria and harmful diseases, including Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.
Few people welcome spiders into their home, yet they are ever-present. Spiders do perform the task of eating other bugs, but they too bring their own set of issues as they begin to make your home, their home.
Fall is the mating season for spiders, especially wolf spiders and yellow sac spiders, and you will notice more spiders out and about looking for a mate. The female spider builds the larger webs you will see in or around your home. The male spiders are looking for the females and their webs. Sadly for them, after mating, the male spider dies or is eaten by the female. Yikes!
Keeping these fall visitors out of your home
The message is always the same. Take the time to survey your home, inside and out, for areas where pests can gain easy entry. If you can see the light or feel a draft, pests, and rodents will be able to enter through it. Be vigilant and spend the time to inspect your home while outdoors, in the basement, or attic.
- Trim trees and bushes and remove them from touching your home.
- Keep garage doors and sliding glass doors/screens closed.
- Make sure crawl spaces are sealed.
- Install screen windows and doors and regularly check for tears in the screens. Make special note to check basement and attic windows and screens that are often overlooked.
- Seal your windows using caulk and install weather strips on every outside access door.
- Check pipes, roof pipes, dryer vents, and other access points for cracks or gaps in the closure.
- Keep your kitchen and areas where the family eats or snacks clean and free of food debris.
And as always, reach out of you need help with common fall pests or just want us to come out and take a look. Happy Fall!