Fall Nuisance Pests

Fall Nuisance Pests

No matter what the season, no one wants to deal with invading pests. However, there are a select few pests that invade homes during the fall for the purpose of overwintering. Ladybugs, boxelder bugs, and stink bugs are all species of insects that seek out safe, warm areas where they can avoid the winter weather and wait for spring. Often, our homes become a target for these nuisance insects, which can be both frustrating and annoying to deal with.

Boxelder Bugs

These red and black insects become problematic in the fall because of their tendency to invade homes in large numbers. Boxelder bugs will flock to the warmest exterior wall of your home once the weather begins to cool, and will then come in through any cracks or gaps around vents, windows, walls, and doors. Once inside, boxelder bugs can become a nuisance because of the large numbers they come in, and their tendency to seek out the warmest spot in your home—which is often around A/C units. If they gather around your heating system in large clusters, it can cause your A/C unit to overheat. Additionally, boxelder bugs can stain curtains, walls, and fabrics with their feces.


Ladybugs are another insect species that enter homes during fall to escape the cold. Once they find a way inside through gaps around windows and doors, they generally stay within attics, wall spaces, and underneath floors, but will emerge anytime there happens to be a sunny winter day to congregate on windowsills. Ladybugs also excrete a yellow liquid when they are threatened or squished, which can stain upholstery, walls, and furniture.

Stink Bugs

Usually considered an agricultural pest during other parts of the year, stink bugs become a nuisance for homeowners during the fall and winter months when they invade homes to escape the colder weather. Similarly to both ladybugs and boxelder bugs, stink bugs will cluster on the sunniest side of buildings and find their way inside through any crevices in exterior walls, vents, and windows. Living up to their name, stink bugs will produce a foul-smelling liquid if crushed or threatened, which can stain furniture as well as curtains.

For any issue with overwintering pests, it is always important to contact professional pest control once you realize you have a problem. Russell’s Pest Control offers a wide variety of pest control services, including our residential pest control programs. Boxelder bugs, stink bugs, and ladybugs can be difficult to get rid of, especially when they come inside in large numbers. But with Russell’s Pest Control on your side, your home can be pest free in no time.

The Invasion Of Fall Pests In Knoxville TN

The Invasion Of Fall Pests In Knoxville TN

As the temperatures cool a bit and the fall season is in full swing, it’s time to start planning and enjoying the upcoming holiday season – not a time when you want to worry about the invasion of fall pests! Four fall pests known to invade Eastern TN and surrounding areas include stink bugs, ladybugs, kudzu bugs, and boxelder bugs. Here are a few ideas for how to avoid a fall invasion of pests in your home.

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs start to enter homes in the fall, but they’re a problem that starts as early as March or April. When scared or squished, stink bugs put out a terrible smell (hence their name!) Stink bugs can be identified by the stripe running from shoulders to the abdomen and their five-sided bodies.


Ladybugs are so prominent in Tennessee that they are the official state insect. The ladybug home invasion usually starts in the third week of October for Eastern TN. They come inside in search of a place to spend the winter and will often be found on the sunny sides of the home.

If you see ladybugs on the outside of your home, use a mild detergent to wash the areas and remove any material that may be attracting the ladybugs to that area of your home.

Kudzu Bugs

Often mistaken for a beetle, the kudzu bug has a beaklike piercing mouthpart, which they use to suck juices from plants. You won’t notice these bugs in the summer, but as fall arrives and the temperatures begin to drop a bit – kudzu bugs will find sun-exposed surfaces of your home to sun themselves and wait for an opportunity to get inside. When disturbed, kudzu bugs will release a foul smelling chemical, and if you have hundreds of these bugs indoors the smell can be overpowering!

Boxelder Bugs

If a boxelder bug comes into your home, chances are hundreds more will join them! Especially during the fall when they are in search of a place to wait out the winter. The boxelder tree is the primary home for these pests. Boxelder bugs can damage fruits and trees. Inside, boxelder bugs smell foul and are unpleasant due to their large populations! You can reduce their living areas outside to keep them from coming near your home in the first place. Remove landscaping debris, wood piles, loose siding, and loose tree bark from around your home to reduce areas where the boxelder bug can hide out.

Preventing the Fall Invasion

All of these pests find their way into your home via small cracks and openings. Caulking around window frames, doors, and all of the possible gaps of your home (utility pipes, outdoor faucets, etc.) can help prevent ladybugs, boxelder bugs, kudzu bugs, and stink bugs from getting inside. Also, check for broken screens and remove window air conditioners so the bugs cannot find their way in around them.

If you continue to have trouble with a fall invasion of pests, give us a call. We’ll help you eliminate your fall pests and put a plan in place to prevent them from returning.

2 Big Reasons Overwintering Pests Come Inside

2 Big Reasons Overwintering Pests Come Inside

Are you enjoying the mild winter we’ve been having? You can bet that bugs and wildlife are. They usually have to find a place to hide when snow and cold temperatures come to Tennessee. You are probably also aware that cold temperatures are one of the big reasons overwintering pests explore man-made structures in fall. But what happens in a winter when temperatures don’t dip way down? Well, there is another reason bugs and wildlife enter homes. And that is what we’re going to be looking at today.

You’ve probably already guessed what the second big reason is. Yup. Food. Those critters are always looking for it; spring, summer, winter, and fall. They can enter your home any time of year to find a bite to eat but, in winter, outside food sources are harder to come by, so their desperation has pests working overtime. This will have them exploring your exterior walls and foundation.

Three of the pests we’re seeing a lot of are roaches, rodents, and ants. These aren’t your typical overwintering pest. While stink bugs, lady bugs, and boxelder bugs will have a hard time finding a bite to eat inside your home, roaches, rodents, and ants will not. These pests can live on a wide selection of food, including many of the foods you and your pets eat.

When roaches and rodents get into a home, they rarely have any reason to leave. Most homes are target rich environments for these invading armies, and they are more than happy to build a home inside your home.

Most ants live in the soil. So, unless you have crawl spaces under your home, you won’t have to worry about ants moving in–except for one. Carpenter ants live in wood. Since your home is made of wood, there is a good chance they’ll find plenty of habitat options. Of all the ants that invade homes, carpenter ants are the worst. They aren’t just a nuisance pest. Their home-building efforts can hurt your equity.

If you’re seeing roaches, rodents, or ants, it isn’t surprising. This is the perfect winter for these overwintering pests to invade. You can also bet that all of these critters will be more abundant this spring, since they didn’t have to spend too much time in dormancy this winter.

Get protection for overwintering pests this winter, and all year long, with a little help from the friendly professionals here at Russell’s Pest Control. Our certified pest specialists know the habits and habitats of Tennessee pests, and are trained in the most advanced pest protocols. With our year-round pest control plans, Power, Power Gold, and Power Platinum, you’ll get exactly what you need.

At Russell’s Pest Control, we get pests out and keep them out, all year long.

How To Prepare For… The Invasion Of The Ladybugs!

How To Prepare For… The Invasion Of The Ladybugs!

When you hear the words, “The invasion of…” what do you expect to follow? Maybe you think of “The invasion of aliens,” or “The invasion of Normandy,” or perhaps that old movie from the 50’s called, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” These all sound pretty intense. But do you ever think about ladybugs invading? The invasion of the ladybugs! It just doesn’t have the same scare factor that those other things. But do you want these bugs inside your home, especially considering that when they do come in, they bring a whole lot of their friends?

The bad news is that in not too many weeks, the temperatures will begin to drop, and insects will begin to seek the warmth of our homes. The good news is that it is not too late to start preparing for “The invasion of the ladybugs.” Consider taking the following steps to keep ladybugs, and other invading insects, out of your home.

  • If you already have ladybugs crawling around inside your home, get a vacuum or dustbuster, and suck them up. Then go to work on making your property less attractive to them and sealing any places where more could get inside.

  • Keep your trash in tightly sealed containers. Ladybugs love exposed trash. In fact, all bugs love exposed trash. So do rodents and wildlife.

  • Never leave food outside, not even your pet’s food. This will definitely draw bugs onto in.

  • Keep clutter to a minimum. Remove as much as possible and, if you need to keep some items, consider storing them away from your home. Bugs love places to hide and tend to congregate in clutter.

  • Store woodpiles or construction materials away from your home as well.

  • Keep outside lights off at night or replace outside bulbs with yellow, insect-resistant bulbs. Ladybugs and other flying insects are drawn in by light.

  • Draw your shades at night. This will also reduce the chances of luring insects close to your home.

  • Examine the outside walls of your home, and use a caulking gun to seal any cracks there. Make sure to seal around the places where pipes, wires, or air conditioning units enter your home.

  • Inspect all of your window and door screens and make sure they are present and in good repair.

  • Install, or check, all door sweeps and make sure they are making a good connection all the way across.

  • Place window grade screens over all chimneys and vents to the outside.

  • Have your exterior walls, or perimeter, treated by a pest control professional from Russell’s Pest Control.

If you have done all you can, but you are still getting ladybugs in your home, or you don’t want to do all the hard work of keeping them out, consider pest services from Russel’s Pest Control. With more than 40 years of experience getting rid of, and sealing out household pests, we are happy to help. Don’t let yourself be the victim of a ladybug invasion this fall! Reach out to Russel’s Pest Control today.

Insect Pests And Winter Weather

A good portion of the United States, including East Tennessee, went through a bout of unseasonably cold weather, with thermometers barely hovering above zero. But what does that have to do with pests?

You may have observed people speculating in conversation or on Facebook about what the cold temperatures will mean for insects in the spring and fall. A popular opinion has been that this weather means we will see fewer insect pests in the spring and summer. Is this true? The answer is “it depends.”

Some insects, such as stink bugs, lady bugs and certain types of ants, tend to invade homes during the fall. These pests look for warm places in preparation for winter, so they are less likely to be affected by any climate fluctuations since they’re already inside.

Pests like beetles, box elder bees, wasps, hornets, crickets, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and others, are more likely to be sensitive to temperature changes. That’s because these insects burrow during the winter and lay their eggs in the ground. Extreme cold can kill off these eggs, which means fewer bugs in the spring and summer. However, the extent to which the polar vortex affected next season’s insect population is impossible to determine, as it depends on how deep the larvae are in the ground.

To sum it all up, there is little doubt that the unseasonably cold weather will have an effect on the number of insects we’ll face in the spring and summer. However, it’s impossible to tell how pronounced that effect will be.

Debunking Myths About Stink Bugs

I have to say that right now I’m a little frustrated with the internet (no surprise there). There’s so much misinformation out there. People confidently post information or advertisements about topics they are almost entirely unfamiliar with, and they can seriously waste their readers’ time and money by doing so.

Recently, I was following a thread on a DIY forum about keeping stink bugs out of the house. Several of the participants had consulted someone about stink bugs (be it a hardware store employee or a one-man pest control operation) and had been told that there’s nothing that can be done about them and that their presence in homes is inevitable. Others had been told that winter treatments are crucial for stinkbug control to try to kill the stink bug eggs before they hatch in the spring. All of this misinformation is very troubling to us at Russell’s Pest Control because we would rather you be stink bug-free whether we do a treatment on your house or not. So, here we will give a brief repetition of some information about overwintering pests so that we can dispel some myths that are floating around on the uninformed internet.

Myth 1: Stink bugs are trying to get in the house so that they can lay their eggs.

This is just not true. Many pests in East Tennessee wait out the winter weather in their egg form, but stink bugs do not fall in that category. The adults move into warm, safe locations to hibernate during the winter and re-emerge to lay their eggs outside on leaves in the spring. If you have stink bugs in your house, they are NOT reproducing in your wall voids during the cold months.

Myth 2: Treatments during the fall and winter will eliminate the stink bugs.

We highly recommend that you do not have stink bugs treated in your home during the cold months if they are already inside in large numbers. Your options for doing so are very limited, and the treatment won’t really help much. Because stink bugs stay in attics and wall voids, treating them is extremely difficult and would involve using lots of product over large spaces. You might kill some stink bugs that way, but their bodies will be in hard-to-access places that you can’t clean. Those dead stink bugs will draw other pests (like rodents), thus making your problem worse, not better. If someone is trying to get you to pay for multiple winter treatments, then he or she is either uninformed or, worse, is hoping to waste your money. In fact, if you call Russell’s Pest Control in the winter and beg for the opportunity to pay us to treat your stink bugs, we still won’t do it; it just wouldn’t be right to do so when the treatment can’t possibly be fully effective.

Myth 3: Stink bugs are inevitable, and nothing can be done to keep them out of the house.

It is true that brown marmorated stink bugs have hit the United States hard, and they can prove to be quite a challenge, even for well-informed pest professionals. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. Contact Russell’s Pest Control on this page if you’d like to hear about our treatment options. Bear in mind that this treatment needs to be done BEFORE the stink bugs come inside, so you need to make an appointment before we start seeing frosts on the ground.

Kudzu Bugs: A New Pest In East Tennessee

We’ve talked in previous posts about pests that have come to the United States from other countries and then created problems for our ecosystems. Pests that may be only an inconvenience in their countries of origin can be devastating when they arrive in areas that do not have the proper predator balance for them. Unfortunately, we have seen another non-native species, the kudzu bug, rise up in the Southeast in the last five years, and it’s time for Tennessee homeowner to brace for impact.

Kudzu bugs are also known as lablab bugs and globular stink bugs. They arrived in Georgia in 2009 and spread through several counties that year. Now, in 2013, they can be found in most of the states in the Southeast, including Alabama, both Carolinas, Mississippi, Virginia, northern Florida, and Tennessee.

Like the brown marmorated stink bug, kudzu bugs have straw-like mouth parts, which they use to suck liquids out of plant stems. Based on their name, you might be inclined to call them beneficial since they do, in fact, eat kudzu and significantly hinder its growth. However, their second-favorite food is soybeans, which makes up an enormous part of the U.S. farming economy. In just a few short years, they have already demonstrated their ability to cause devastating damage to crops, and they are a huge point of concern for local entomologists and pest professionals alike.

Even if you’re not a farmer, kudzu bugs are likely to be a hindrance for you. Just like stink bugs, lady bugs, and boxelder bugs, adult kudzu bugs move indoors when the weather first starts to cool off, and they overwinter in attics and wall voids. Light-colored houses are more at risk for invasion (they have a particular affinity for white), and they are most likely to enter homes after sunning themselves on south or west walls on chilly fall days. They then emerge in the spring when the weather warms up to eat, mate, and lay their eggs. Unfortunately, overwintering pests are not blessed with spectacular senses of direction, and kudzu bugs can end up inside your home instead of leaving through the crack they used as an entrance. And, you guessed, just like the other bugs listed above, they emit a smelly, staining liquid when they are agitated or smashed that can be very problematic in a home.

I write about overwintering pests every year to try to warn as many homeowners as possible because we are now in the season when you need to take action to keep these pests out of your home. Check your weather stripping, ridge vents, and the holes around your utility entrances. Make sure to keep those well-sealed so you’re not presenting easy entrance points for pests. If you do not want to have a professional pest treatment, consider getting a hose attachment that will allow you to spray your home with very soapy water. This is a short-term treatment (since both sun and rain dissipate soap very quickly), but if you do it every few days, you may deter these bugs from sunning on your siding. If you do want a professional treatment, call Russell’s Pest Control before the weather turns truly cold. We can use a backpack sprayer to treat the outside of your home to make sure that our products get into the small cracks that the kudzu bugs, stink bugs, and lady bugs are most likely to find appealing.

Contact us if you’d like more information. We’ll keep you informed as we find out more about this new type of invader.

Earwigs: The Pincher Pests

Recently, I discovered that some new neighbors have taken up residence nearby. When I lifted up the lid to my outdoor garbage bin, a whole hoard of insects went scurrying away; they had been hiding in the crease where the lid fits onto the bin. I discovered a similar swarm underneath the trash can when I tipped it up on its wheels to roll it to the curb. The bugs in question were earwigs, and they seem to be out in large quantities right now. If that’s the case, we should discuss what you need to know about earwigs to make sure they don’t become a problem in your home.

Earwigs are bizarre-looking creatures that sometimes give people the creeps. They have long, thin bodies that are noticeably flattened. This body structure is important so that they can fit into tight crevices (like under trash cans) to keep safe in the warm months and to keep warm in the winter. Their most obvious physical characteristic, however, is their set of pincers on their back end (this has led them to be nicknamed “pincher bugs”). These pincers are quite large in comparison to an earwig’s body. They are often used for defense, though humans could suffer little harm from an earwig’s pinch.

Earwigs are omnivorous, which means they’ll cheerfully eat rotting plants or dead insects that they come across. Like centipedes, they are heavily moisture dependent and are most likely to be found in a home in a damp basement or garage or in a bathroom with a water leak. Urban legend would tell you that earwigs get their name from their tendency to hide in pillows so that they can enter the human ear at night. This is not true. A typical bedroom is much too dry for an earwig, and they have no interest in laying eggs in your brain. So, that’s good news, right?

If you have earwigs in your home, you should walk the perimeter of your house to try to find their primary harborage site. Like many pests, earwigs are extremely attracted to wood piles because they can hide in damp places underneath the bark. Wood piles should be moved away from the house as should leaves and other debris. If you have thick, leafy groundcover or climbing ivy, you are also at higher risk for an earwig invasion. Ivy in particular holds moisture incredibly well and does not dry out as grass does. If this ivy is on your exterior walls, it is a perfect, damp bridge that earwigs can use to enter your home.

Once exterior concerns are taken care of, you could also check the inside of your home for moisture issues. Sometimes, an earwig infestation is a good indicator of a plumbing leak that you might have otherwise missed. Also, be sure to take out your trash regularly and disinfect your trashcans often. I once visited an apartment shared by several college students. They had an earwig problem in the kitchen, and we quickly identified that the problem was that each student piled multiple (rather damp) bags of trash on the tile floor in the hope that one of the other roommates would take all the garbage out at once. Once the garbage removal was put on a regular schedule, the earwigs disappeared and no further intervention was needed.

If these suggestions do not work and you want to use a product to treat your home for earwigs, keep in mind that these are very quick pests and that a line of spray with an over-the-counter pest product may not really faze them. Running over the spray line certainly would not be enough to kill a healthy earwig. At Russell’s, we could approach the problem from a variety of angles, including targeted liquid treatments with products that will stick to the earwig’s exoskeleton or with baits. Give us a call at 865-584-8549 if you want to hear more about our treatment options or contact us here to get more information.

Overwintering Pests Are On The Move: Boxelder Bugs In East Tennessee

Fall is on the way! I’m not rushing along this beautiful weather, but the chilly mornings and evenings that we’re experiencing are a reminder that cool weather is not so far away. That also means that our fall and winter pests are coming into season. So, it is now time for your annual reminder about overwintering pests. This time, we’ll take a closer look at the boxelder bug, a fall pest that can cause trouble for Knoxville home and business owners.

Much of this article may sound like old hat to you if you’ve seen our ladybug or stink bug articles in the past. However, in case you’re just joining us, let’s briefly go over the trademarks of an overwintering pest. Overwintering pests like ladybugs, stink bugs, and boxelder bugs spend most of their lives feeding on plant matter in your yard. Many insects are truly spring and summer creatures, meaning that they may largely die out in the cooler months. However, overwintering pests survive the cold weather by moving somewhere warm and comfortable where they can hibernate until spring. Yep, you guessed it: That warm and comfortable location is often someone’s home! Overwintering pests will swarm into buildings by the hundreds. Unfortunately, the homeowner may not even know the pests are there until it is too late. Boxelders and their cousins generally hide in the attic or wall voids as soon as they move into the house; homeowners may not know about the problem until the spring when the pests wake up and get lost on their way back outside.

Now that we’re having some cool mornings, you may be seeing boxelder bugs around your house without knowing what they are. These insects can be identified by their distinct coloring, which changes drastically over their lifetimes. Young boxelders are solid, bright red and are very eye-catching (though they hardly resemble the adult form at this stage). As they age, they get wider bodies, develop wings, and begin to turn from red to grayish black. By the time they are fully mature, they are flat and gray, but they retain red markings on their wings, usually in the shape of an “X.”

Like ladybugs, boxelder bugs will bite if handled. The bite may seem surprisingly sharp, but it has no real effects or dangers for humans. However, like most overwintering pests, they can stain fabrics or paint with their feces. If you smash them, they will likely leave a stain and will also put off an unpleasant odor (much like the infamous stink bug).

You may be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have any boxelder trees, so I won’t have a problem with these pests.” That is good news that may help to decrease your risk. Unfortunately, their other favorite food source is maple trees; let’s face it, East Tennessee is absolutely covered with those. One quick way to see if you may have a boxelder bug problem is to go outside to your south and west walls in the mid-morning or early afternoon when the sun is just starting to warm up. There is a good chance that you might find some of these pests soaking up heat by basking on your walls. If they are there now, it’s quite likely that they will be wriggling their way through cracks and into the house before long.

The best way to stop them from getting inside is to seal up all of those cracks. Enjoy the outdoors while walking around your house with some caulk and weather stripping. If boxelder bugs can’t find any openings, they won’t be attracted to your house. If you know overwintering pests are a problem at your home (or if you don’t want to take any chances), give us a call or contact Russell’s Pest Control here. Our technicians perform very thorough treatments that can make the boxelder bugs, ladybugs, and stink bugs think twice before setting up housekeeping in your home.

Stink Bugs And Lady Bugs: The Hassles Of A Mild Winter

Because of our mild winter, we at Russell’s Pest Control were getting calls from homeowners in Knoxville, Maryville, Lenoir City, and other surrounding cities throughout early February for pest problems ranging from ants to mice to meal moths. One thing is for sure: This winter has (so far) proven to be milder than the record-breaking cold seasons we’ve had in the past few years. Before we gear up for the spring-time swarmers, I wanted to warn you about the critters that you may be finding in your southern windows on these sunny afternoons.

You haven’t forgotten about stink bugs or lady beetles, have you? We usually try to post about them in the late summer or early fall because that’s the time to get treatments for these overwintering pests. The term “overwintering pest” just means a bug that hibernates through the cold weather inside your warm wall voids or attic. On nice, sunny days in late winter or early spring, they start to emerge and make their way outside. Unfortunately, their sense of direction is not so impressive just after they wake up. All of the ladybugs and stinks bugs that you find inside your house are just lost. They were trying to get back to the open air, and they took a wrong turn through a crack under your baseboard or through one of your light fixtures.

There is just nothing pleasant about sharing space with these bugs, particularly if you have them in large numbers. Both species give off a very unpleasant odor when you squish them, and ladybugs pack a surprisingly sharp (though harmless) bite for bugs of their size. If you’ve got them in your house now, there’s nothing you can do but buckle down and ride out the insect exodus. Do not spray an over-the-counter pesticide inside your wall voids to try to kill them there. That will only draw predator bugs in large numbers to feed on the ones you kill.

Use your vacuum with a hose attachment to suck up groups of stink bugs or ladybugs that you find inside. Be sure to either empty the canister in an outside trashcan or remove the bag and put it outside. The bugs don’t die when they are vacuumed up and will just walk back out into the house if you leave the bag inside.

Although we at Russell’s Pest Control will not do a wall void treatment to kill the stinkbugs and ladybugs that are already in the house, we would be glad to help you handle any predator pests like spiders, centipedes, or rodents that may show up to hunt the overwintering pests. We can give you safe coverage during the high-pressure pest months that are coming this spring and summer and then do a thorough treatment this fall to work on keeping out next year’s stink bugs and ladybugs. In other words, we can protect your home from pests year round so you don’t have to worry about it. Give us a call, or visit our contact page, if that sounds like the sort of help you need.