Bugged by insects? Here's how to fight them
This unusually wet season has brought about an incredible hatch of Minnesota's unofficial state bird, the mosquito. You know they bite, and that insect spray is required most evenings, but how much do you really know about this seasonal pest? For instance, did you know:
Minnesota has 50 different varieties of mosquitoes.
Mosquito eggs can survive for more than five years.
Only female mosquitoes bite and take blood. Male mosquitoes feed only on plant nectar
Mosquitoes are the primary food for many birds and bats. One bat can eat 200 mosquitoes in one night and birds eat hundreds of mosquitoes every day.
The primary question I have been asked recently is: when will they go away? The first average frost date for our area falls in the beginning of October, so we don't have to tolerate them for much longer, thank goodness. However, once the mosquitoes are gone, our
insect problems are
Asian lady beetles begin to emerge on the second day of temperatures above 65 degrees following freezing or near freezing temperatures. Usually, these conditions occur between late September and late October. They seem to be attracted to buildings with contrasting light and dark areas and are found in larger numbers on buildings adjacent to wooded areas.
To prevent lady beetles from gaining access to your home, check the exterior for spaces and cracks that will allow these bugs easy entry. Remember that lady beetles can fit through openings as small as one-eighth inch. Seal cracks around windows, doors and fascia boards with caulk. Don't forget to check areas where cable wires, phone lines, dryer vents and other utility wires and pipes enter your home. Use expandable spray foam, steel wool or copper mesh to keep these areas beetle free. Make sure your window and door screens are intact, and install door sweeps or thresholds on all exterior entry doors and rubber seals at the bottom of your garage doors.
Exterior insecticidal barriers can be applied before these insects enter your home. (Usually in late September or early October.) Choose an insecticide that contains one of the following: bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, detla methrin or permethrin. Make sure to read the label carefully and precisely follow the application instructions. (More is not always better!)
Box elder bugs like to swarm in warm areas, and seem to be attracted to southern or western sides of buildings. Once cold weather has set in, these pests work their way into our homes; inside walls or attics. Although these insects are usually inactive during winter months; mild sunny days might lead them to sunny windows and warm spots. Box elders do not lay eggs or feed indoors, and are harmless, as they do not damage your house, furnishings or family members. However, they can be a nuisance due to the sheer numbers in which they appear.
The most effective deterrence against box elders is to prevent their entry by sealing cracks and gaps that allow them access to your home. Using a lawn and garden insecticide or soapy water on outside masses of bugs will also help to reduce the number that get in. Remove wood piles, garden debris and leaf piles from around the foundation of your home to eliminate any potential box elder habitat. Once these bugs have made their way inside, household insecticides are ineffective.
Good luck in all your bug battles. Until next time, happy gardening!
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos."
- E.O. Wilson