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Overwintering Pests

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What is an overwintering pest? It is a classification utilized in reference to a group of insect species that overwinter. The natural process of overwintering permits insects to enter a sleep-like state at the onset of winter. The insects remain in the same state until the following spring.

Overwintering allows insects to sleep through winter. The body functions slow down to eliminate the need to eat. While overwintering makes winter more tolerable for the insects, it also allows them to avoid predators, cold weather, and other dangers.

Overwintering Pests

Overwintering pests are found in US states with harsh winters. Northerners are more familiar with these pests than Southerners.

Box Elder Bug “Boxelder Bug”

The box elder bug shares a notable feature with the stinkbug and ladybug. The three insect species have glands that generate a foul-smelling secretion. The insect utilizes its secretion to deter enemy attacks. The secretion contains pheromones that attract insects. Box elder bugs utilize their pheromone secretion to attract mates during mating season.

The box elder bug is very easy to identify, thanks to the bright orange markings that outline the wings. The insect has six elbow-shaped legs, two black antennas, and two wings. The body is in the shape of a sunflower seed.

The insect goes through five stages of life, starting as an egg. During the first phase of the life cycle, the egg hatches. The second stage is when the nymph molts, a natural process where the young nymph sheds its skin. The molting nymph transforms into a nymph during the third stage. The nymph becomes an adult after two more life cycle stages.

The adult grows up to ½ of an inch. The insect does not carry diseases, cause structural damage or sting.

Ladybug “Asian Lady Beetle”

Like the box elder bug, the ladybug has glands that generate a foul-smelling secretion. The insect is very commonly found in Northern states. They are more active in autumn when they begin preparing to enter the overwintering state.

The ladybug has a set of forewings “elytra” and a set of hindwings. As the insect matures, its elytra become rigid and hard. As an adult, the elytra add a layer of protection to the hindwings.

The adult is still very small, but just large enough to make them identifiable. The elytra have an orange, red, or yellow base covered in tiny black spots.

Cluster Fly

The cluster fly is often mistaken for the common housefly. While the two insects belong to the same species, they are slightly different. Unlike the housefly, the cluster fly does not carry diseases. With this said, differentiating between the two insects is difficult or impossible unless you know their unique characteristics.

The cluster fly belongs to the “Polleniidae” family and “Pollenia” genus. The insect features four black legs, two translucent wings, two antennas, and a dark brown or black body.

Cluster flies cannot survive with earthworms. The female lays her eggs in dirt, where they eventually transform into maggots. At this stage of the life cycle, the cluster fly maggots enter their host, an earthworm. It takes up to 39 days for the insect to reach maturity, depending on its environment.

Leaf-Footed Pine Seed Bug

The leaf-footed pine seed bug reproduces annually, unlike many other insect species that continuously reproduce. The adult grows up to ¾ of an inch. The elongated body ranges from dark brown to black. There are three sets of elbow-shaped legs and two long antennas.

During the overwintering phase, the leaf-footed pine seed bug can be found sheltering in conifer and pine trees. They crawl into cracks, gaps, and holes, where they remain until the weather begins to warm.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug “Stinkbug”

The brown marmorated stinkbug grows as large as ½ of an inch long. The marmorated pattern (marbled pattern) covers the elbow-shaped legs, antennas, body, and shield-shaped wings.

Like the ladybug and box elder bug, the stinkbug generates a deterrent secretion. The species are commonly found in Northern states, originating from Asia.

Farmers and backyard gardeners are not fond of the stinkbug. The diet consists of seeds, vegetables, and fruit from various trees and plants. Indoors, the stinkbug feeds on houseplants.

How Do I Know My Home Is Infested With Overwintering Pests?

Overwintering pests generally become a problem for homeowners and businesses during the autumn season. The insects stink around until they find a suitable winter shelter. Since the pest is not fond of winter weather, it prefers indoor shelters. Having patience allows them to hang around until an opportunity to enter a house becomes available. This is why they are found clustering around the exterior of houses, apartments, flats, and condominiums.

The most common sign of an overwintering pest problem is a live insect. A foul odor similar to that of a skunk is also another sign.

What Does Pest Control Prevention Looks Like For Overwintering Pests?

Overwintering pests are generally not an issue until fall sets in. The insects feed on seeds, cones, and leaves of plants and trees. They are definitely no friend of the hardworking farmer. With this said, the ladybug can prove valuable as a pollinator. The ladybug along with bees, mosquitoes, and flies pollinate female plants by delivering them pollen from their male counterparts.

  • Seal access points that lead from the exterior to the interior of your home
  • Repair damaged windowsills, door thresholds, garage door seals, and crawlspace/basement vents
  • Keep soffit, eaves, and attic vents in good condition
  • Routine home inspections
  • Keep windows, doors, and garage doors closed
  • Replace or repair window and door screens
  • Foam insulation
  • Aluminum sheets
  • Metal pot scrubbers
  • Waterproof caulk
  • Waterproof sealant

Replace Window And Door Screens

If you are adamant about naturally airing your home out in fall and spring, you can always opt to open your doors and windows. Keep in mind, that overwintering pests start looking for indoor shelter at the onset of fall. Screen doors and windows

The tiniest slit, hole, or gap in the screen can easily become an overwintering pest access point into your home.

Plumbing Pipe Passages

Overwintering pests are known to utilize plumbing pipe passages to access homes. Rats, mice, cockroaches, spiders, and beetles utilize these passages as well. It is crucial to seal off the passage without comprising the plumbing system.

It is recommended to utilize metal sheeting to seal off plumbing passages. Rats and mice can easily gnaw through wood, plastic, and other vulnerable materials.

Windowsills And Fascia Boards

Windowsills and fascia boards are exposed to the elements – wind, rain, snow, sun, sleet, dirt, and hail – twenty-four hours a day. Repairing these very important structural components can help keep overwintering pests out of your home. Utilize foam insulation and waterproof silicone to seal cracks, gaps, holes, and other damage.

Attic, Crawlspace, And Basement Vents

Replace vents in attics, crawlspaces, and basements. Never completely seal vents because they play an important role in combating moisture and extreme heat in basements, crawlspaces, and attics.

Replace damaged vents and seal with a waterproof sealant. Periodically inspect the vents and reseal them whenever necessary to keep overwintering pests from entering your home.

Bricks And Siding

Utilize a waterproof caulk or silicone to replace missing mortar between bricks. Fill each hole with quality silicone and allow it to dry before repeating.

Wood and vinyl siding also needs to be sealed. If necessary, replace severely damaged pieces before they begin to decay.

What Is The Importance Of Home Repair Utilizing Waterproof Sealants?

Waterproof caulks and sealants play an important role in keeping homes water, cooler, and protected from overwintering pests and other insect species.

Walk around your home in search of damage that can easily be repaired with exclusion materials:

  • Copper or stainless-steel pot scrubbers
  • Aluminum screen
  • Foam insulation (traditional insulation will not work for this purpose)
  • Heavy-duty hardware cloth

A routine inspection is the only way to truly determine if the structure of your home is in good condition.

If you have any other pest control issues please check out other services.

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