Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Twitter

I'm trying my hand at Twitter! I hope to provide little IPM updates fairly regularly. So if you are following my blog, please also follow my Twitter at and spread the word to others interested in IPM!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Pests

Spring has sprung...sort of. I hear that we may be hit with another winter blast this weekend, but at least Thursday is technically the first day of Spring and mentally that means we can think warmer weather, birds singing, and trees blooming.

For insects, the "false" spring temperatures and/or sunny days we've had before the next cold front hits has fooled them into coming out of their overwintering sites, often into structures. I've seen many a boxelder bug or multicolored Asian lady beetle lately on it's back dying near a door or windowsill when it discovers that spring really isn't here yet (or it had some help from a hand or shoe).

So how can you get rid of these early, unwanted pests when they wander into your home or school or office? In most cases, a good old vacuum cleaner will do the trick, and of course sealing up any cracks and crevices and tightly sealing window screens around the building. Also, putting out sticky traps to catch any errant travelers can also be effective.

Here are a few of the potential late winter/early spring offenders:

Ants: It seems the Extension offices get a lot of reports of ants, especially in the spring and summer. I had an attack of odorous house ants myself once during spring, living in the walls in my bathroom and chowing down on my cat's food. There are species that live both inside and wander in, or ones that actually nest within the walls, cracks, or crevices of the home and are attracted to crumbs, sweet liquids, and pet foods that are easily accessible. Vacuums work well here, too, as do baits and good old fashioned sanitation.

Boxelder Bugs: These guys are notorious for coming out on warm winter or early spring days. Cracks and crevices should be sealed in the fall before it gets cold so they have no place to overwinter. When they get in the house, again, vacuums work wonders.

Flies: Nuisance flies, especially cluster flies (look like larger, slower house flies) and face flies, can get into buildings during the winter/early spring. A good old fashioned fly swatter can help, as well as sealing any holes, cracks and crevices around the structure.

Multicolored Asian Ladybird Beetles: If not targeted in the fall, they can overwinter in cracks near the home and may enter in the early spring. I saw one on my windowsill just yesterday!

And last but not least, I should mention a visitor that I personally found once during winter. I was at my parent's house over Christmas and my mom had seen a bug crawling on the floor and put a cup over it, wanting me to take a look. When I did, I was shocked to see a paper wasp queen! She apparently had overwintered near the house and decided she wanted to roast chestnuts by the open fire with us. It was a wonder someone didn't step on her...a wasp sting, in the middle of winter, would certainly have been novel. My pest control strategy was simply to put her outside in the snow. I admit I felt kind of bad about it, but better than her starting a new nest of paper wasps near the house that summer!

So now it's your turn...what spring pests have you seen so far this year? Let us know in a comment below!