Ladybugs: Unwanted Winter Pests

As our evenings grow colder, it’s time for East-Tennesseans to start thinking about ladybugs (or Asian lady beetles). These pests enter homes during the fall and then emerge when the days get warmer. The trouble is that they sometimes get lost and enter the home instead of heading back outside—much to the dismay of their surprised hosts!

Although they’re frustrating, these bright little bugs prey on some of the most destructive plant pests. In fact, the USDA has released loads of them onto crops that were endangered by pests (which partially explains why ladybugs invade houses so often now: their numbers have been artificially inflated). Still, Asian lady beetles may be the hero of the garden, but they’re less welcome inside. Finding bugs all over the house is generally upsetting, but these also produce yellow ooze when threatened (or smashed) that stains, and, although it’s hard to believe, they can actually deliver a painful bite!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, exclusion is always the best place to start with pest management. Ladybugs choose a structure for overwintering and then start to search for cracks or crevices. If your home is well-sealed, the beetles will be forced to move on. Screens in attic and roof vents should be carefully checked since ladybugs find the high points of two-story buildings appealing and often enter homes through attics. Are there cracks in your siding? Openings underneath your doors? Holes around your plumbing connections? These are all situations that ladybugs will exploit.

Don’t forget: If we’re getting consistent frosts at night, it’s too late to act. The ladybugs are already inside, so the best thing you can do is get a vacuum with a hose attachment ready. Vacuuming up ladybugs and taking the bags outside is the best way to get rid of the ones that are inside, even though the smell won’t be good. If ladybugs are in the house, DO NOT find an exterminator to treat your attic or wall voids. Killing the bugs inside does you no good because the smell will be terrible, and the dead bugs will create a food source for other, more offensive pests. If you want to have a pest control treatment for ladybugs, hire a professional before the frosts set in and save yourself a lot of hassle.

It’s Spider Season

Despite the fact that spiders play a beneficial role in our environment, arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) is more common than any other kind of phobia. Unfortunately for the people of east Tennessee, spiders are considered a year-round pest and can be found in homes during any season and in the midst of any weather conditions. Let’s go over the basics of what you need to know if you’re finding spiders in your home, particularly because early September is when we at Russell’s start to get more phone calls about indoor spiders.

First of all, DON’T PANIC! No one likes to be startled by a large spider somewhere unexpected, but there are very few spiders in Tennessee that can deliver a bite even as powerful as a bee sting. And, despite their bad reputation, only a few spiders are considered aggressive. Many wouldn’t bite you even if you tried to provoke them (this, of course, doesn’t change the fact that you should never provoke what you can’t identify).

Spiders aren’t like roaches; they don’t move indoors just because they like it there. All spiders are predators, which means if you’re finding spiders in your house, it’s because there are already other small bugs there that can provide a food source for your eight-legged friends. The trick, then, is to get rid of the food source and make your home uninviting for a hungry spider.

Keep exterior doors closed. Caulk around your windows so that cracks don’t offer convenient entry points for small pests; this will also help lower your bills so you’re not air conditioning or heating the outdoors. Check your window screens. You need to be sure you’re not leaving holes for unwanted guests when you let in that sweet autumn air. Replace weather-stripping and seals around doors if needed, particularly since overhangs at the back door are a common place for spiders to set up shop.

Try some of these tips to keep your home spider-free in September. And, if the spiders are still more than you can handle, remember Russell’s offers convenient pest control services that can take care of most common house spiders. We’ll even knock down their webs.