This is the time of year when you may see the “fall invaders.” These are insect invaders that enter buildings in the fall as the weather cools—usually with the intent of finding a nice warm place to spend the winter. Most of these insects are just considered nuisances—but they should not be totally ignored. Here are a couple of examples of these fall invaders:

One of the most common invaders in the Pacific Northwest that can really be problematic is the Asian lady beetle (or ladybug). These are considered to be beneficial in the biological control of plant pests outside. Inside a building, however, they can end up in the attic, behind baseboards, in wall voids, or any other void in which they find suitable to spend the winter. In the spring, as the days get warmer (or even sometimes on warm days during the winter) they will become active again. They’ll leave their hiding places in great numbers and try to find ways to get back outside. A “ladybug infestation” sounds harmless on the surface, but if they are ignored they can reach tremendous numbers—sometimes reaching into the hundreds or thousands inside.

Another common fall invader here is the cluster fly. These flies behave in the same manner as the lady beetle. They attempt to “move in” to the voids of your house and spend the winter. Then when spring arrives, or in some cases on warm days in the winter, they make their move to emerge and become major annoyances of the occupants of a home, apartment, or office building.

One of Whitworth Pest Solutions, Inc.’s most extreme case studies of a fall invader involved a large, custom built house in a rural area. The occupants saw ladybugs inside for several years, but one particular year they were so prevalent inside that they were having to vacuum the bugs up non-stop just to keep them at bay. These homeowners reached their breaking point when the ladybugs began waking them up in the middle of the night by crawling across their faces. Whitworth Pest Solutions was called, and we were able to get a handle on the problem with extensive effort. Frankly, we’ve never seen so many ladybugs in one place. Obviously, this particular case study ranks among the extreme, but the lesson learned here is to remain aware of potential problems from these overwintering insects.

Here are some ways to keep these invaders as well as many other pests at bay:

1) Perform an outside perimeter and eaves/overhangs insecticide treatment of the building. If you are on a “Premium Value Program” from Whitworth Pest Solutions, you’re covered in this regard. If not, contact us for details.

2) “Pest proof” the building. Sealing openings is an integral part of pest control, and when combined with our perimeter treatments, goes a long way toward keeping fall invaders out. Perform these measures as part of a fall routine:

  • A) Caulk cracks around doors and basement or ground floor windows.
  • B) Make sure window and door screens fit securely and screen outside vents.
  • C) Install thresholds, sweeps and weather stripping on ground level doors, including garage doors.

3) Perimeter cleanup. When there are conditions around a home that are conducive to pests finding shelter, this will act as a magnet for pests in the area to congregate around your home. Perform these steps to minimize  your house becoming a magnet for pests:

  • A) Move wood piles away from the house.
  • B) Cut all branches, weeds and shrubbery away from the house.
  • C) Make sure that rainwater drains away from the house, rather than pool up against it.
  • D) Reduce white incandescent lighting outside, especially around doorways. “Bug lights” sold in hardware stores really do help to decrease the attraction of insects to your house at night.
  • E) Make sure your attic and crawl space are well ventilated to reduce moisture levels.

Pesticides alone will not always succeed in reaching the objective of keeping fall invaders out.  The most effective pest management strategy is one in which the pest control company and the client partner up and work together. This integrated pest management approach has been proven to be very successful and it is this approach that Whitworth Pest Solutions works to achieve.