Cockroaches are cold-blooded pests that thrive in warm, humid conditions. Although there are hundreds of cockroach species, they all have one goal in common: finding food, water, and shelter. Roaches can invade even the cleanest of homes, making them extremely difficult to get rid of. Roaches are resilient and can find ways in through cracks in foundations, under doors without weather stripping, through open windows, or even catching a ride in on a used piece of furniture, an old appliance, or a shopping bag. Roaches are dangerous to humans as they are known to get into garbage, contaminate food and other surfaces, carry and transmit diseases, and trigger allergies and asthma.
Is there a cockroach season? Are they more prevalent during some seasons of the year versus others? The answer to that depends on geography. States with colder climates will see a decline in roach activity in the winter as many species will either hibernate or die off and then pick back up in spring and summer when the warmer weather returns. In states with warmer climates (like the southern US and southern California), roaches are active year-round.
German cockroaches are not tolerant of the cold and depend on a temperate environment for survival. They will often nest in the walls of homes, apartments, restaurants, and supermarkets. They will also hide behind baseboards, in drawers, in cracks around cabinets, and under sinks, stoves, refrigerators and other appliances. American cockroaches usually stay outdoors although they will come inside to escape both the freezing cold and the extreme heat. Most roaches cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees. Once this colder weather sets in, roaches (like other overwintering pests) can become more common inside your home as they will escape the cold and continue to thrive and reproduce indoors.
Regardless of where you live, a cockroach infestation can wreak havoc on the health of your family and your home. Help prevent cockroaches regardless of the season by:
- Thoroughly cleaning your home weekly.
- Cleaning under the fridge, stove, toaster, oven, and other appliances.
- Empty the trash regularly and seal the lids.
- Don’t leave spills and crumbs.
- Store food in sealed containers.
- Fix leaks immediately.
- Clear out old newspapers and cardboard.
- Clean up yard debris.
- Don’t let shrubs, trees, or wood piles touch your home.
Roaches are resilient and extremely hard to get rid of once they have established themselves in your home. As long as the temperature indoors is above 50 degrees, roaches can remain active year-round, although they are more prevalent in the spring and summer months. If you have a problem with roaches or any other pests, contact your local pest control company who can help identify what type of roach you are dealing with, help eliminate them and keep them from coming back in.
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Orb weaver spiders, also known as garden spiders and banana spiders, are actually a group of spiders belonging to the family Araneidae. This family is one of the most diverse in the world and contains many different species of spiders. Common throughout the world, orb weavers can be quite intimidating in appearance; but the main question is are orb weaver spiders dangerous or not? Let’s take a closer look at the orb weaver, as well as some ways to prevent them.
Orb weavers can grow to be quite large, ranging in size from 6 mm to 20 mm. Like all spiders, they have a cephalothorax (where their thorax and head are fused together), an abdomen, and 8 legs. They also have chelicera, which are fang-like mouthparts. They also have large abdomen that can actually overlap their thoraces, and hairy or spiny legs. Most nocturnal orb weavers are brown or gray in color while diurnal species are usually bright yellow or orange with their trademark black markings.
Orb weavers are found throughout the world except Antarctica and the Arctic. In North America there are 180 species alone. These spiders usually inhabit locations that have an abundance of animals they can prey upon, along with structures that can support their webs. They are commonly found around night lights, tree branches, tall grass, fences, walls, bushes, and weeds.
Orb weavers feast on small insects like flies, beetles, wasps, moths, and mosquitoes. Larger spiders will even eat small frogs and hummingbirds.
Male orb weavers are much smaller than females and their sole purpose is to mate with females. Once they have mated, males are often the first meal for females. Females will produce one or more egg sacs that contain several hundred eggs per sac.
Orb weavers are most notable for the large webs they create. These webs are circular in shape and highly organized with several radial strands of silk that look like wagon wheel spokes that are connected by concentric circular strands. These webs can measure up to 3 feet in diameter! Orb weaver spiders are typically nocturnal, building and repairing their webs at night.
At dawn, some orb weavers will tear down their webs and eat them to take in moisture from the dew that collects on them and to prevent larger animals like birds from becoming trapped in them.
Orb weavers aren’t hunters or wanderers and stick pretty close to home. They usually sit inside their webs and wait for prey to be trapped. Occasionally they will hide nearby and leave trap lines that vibrate when the web has been breached. Once something has been trapped in the web, the spider will bite and paralyze it and wrap it in silk to eat later.
Orb weavers are usually spotted around homes and gardens in late summer and fall.
Orb weavers aren’t considered a significant threat to humans. In fact, they are considered beneficial to have around as they consume pests like mosquitoes and beetles that can cause problems for you and your plants. These spiders are not aggressive and rarely bite unless they are threatened and cannot escape. The bite of an orb weaver is often compared to a bee sting and there are no long lasting effects from their bite. They are quite harmless unless their web is built in a location that is frequented by people.
Although orb weavers are considered harmless (and even beneficial) some people just don’t like the idea of a creepy spider hanging around their home. Decreasing the population of other insects around your home that they can use as a food source will help deter them from hanging around and send them off somewhere else in search of food. Sealing holes, cracks, and gaps in the exterior of your home helps eliminate entry points for them indoors. Removing ground litter and other items they can use for shelter or harboring will also keep them from taking up residence in your yard.
If you have a problem with spiders or any other pests in or around your home, you can always contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a free inspection to help you identify what type of pest you are dealing with and set you up with the appropriate treatment and prevention plan for your situation.
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During the impending colder weather, some pests will begin to seek warmth and shelter for survival. Overwintering is a common term used to described pests and their activities that allow them to survive the cold temperatures. In this instance, overwintering pests are those that find a warm place to make their home. Two common overwintering pests are boxelder bugs and ladybugs.
Named for feeding off maple and seed-bearing boxelder trees in the warmer months, boxelder bugs are sneaky pests that can easily make your home theirs. These insects are reddish-back and can have orange markings on their backs. Boxelders have a flattened and elongated oval-shaped body that is around ½ inch long with six legs and a pair of antennae.
Boxelders are known to be slightly more aggressive than other overwintering species. With mouthparts that are both piercing and capable of sucking, these pests can occasionally puncture skin when they are handled. This can cause slight irritation and produce red spots very similar to a mosquito bite. Similar to stinkbugs, these pests are often found inside the home in areas that have a large amount of sunlight. Crushing these pests is not recommended as their bodies will produce a very strong odor and their remains can leave reddish stains on fabric.
Found worldwide and tallying over 5,000 species, ladybugs (also known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles) are considered a harmless overwintering pest. Ladybugs have an oval, dome-shaped body with a hard-shell wing that covers their inner wings. Deemed beneficial, these insects will consume plant-eating insects such as aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale insects, all of which can harm crops and plants in gardens.
Similar to boxelder bugs, ladybugs are on the lookout for a warm place over the fall and winter months. These insects will take over your home in a matter of days, utilizing windows and door openings to come inside a home or building structure. While these insects aren’t necessarily harmful, they can become a major nuisance when large populations congregate.
Overwintering Pest Prevention
Protect your home this winter with these tips for overwintering pest prevention:
- Seal or caulk all cracks and crevices around house foundations, siding, doors, windows, electrical and plumbing.
- Clean up your yard by raking, keeping the grass cut, and picking up debris in the yard.
- Use tight-fitting insect screens on foundations and attic vents.
Cicada killers, aka cicada killer wasps or digger wasps, are solitary wasps that appear during the summer months. These wasps are often mistaken for hornets or European wasps because of their similar appearance. Although they are large and intimidating in appearance, they are not aggressive like other wasp species. In fact, they are considered beneficial because they pollinate plants.
Cicada killers can be up to 2 inches in length, although males are smaller than females. They have black abdomens with yellow markings and orange-tinted wings. They are often mistaken for other wasp species, hornets, and even murder hornets.
Cicada killers are attracted to flowers and feed on nectar. They are beneficial to have around because they are considered pollinators.
Cicada killers are found in every state east of the Rocky Mountains. They usually emerge in the summer months. These insects dig holes or burrows to live in that can be up to 10 inches deep and 6 inches wide. They prefer soft, sandy, well drained soil and are often found on sloped terrains, in flower beds, at patio edges, along sidewalks, and in sparse yards. As they dig they push piles of soil up and out of the burrow entrances. Piles of soil at holes are a sign you have cicada killers in your yard. Burrows can have up to 20 cells with 1 to 2 adults and 1 egg per cell. These wasps breed rapidly and populations can grow quickly. Cicada killers can be found in areas of full sunlight near anywhere cicadas are found.
Cicada killers are not aggressive like other wasps, although males will dive bomb if they feel that they or their territory is threatened. Only females are equipped to sting and will use their stingers to inject venom into cicadas to paralyze and kill them. They then feed the dead cicadas to their larvae. They usually only sting humans when they become caught in their clothing or are picked up by bare hands.
Cicada killers don’t pose too much of a threat to humans and are best left alone. Because they are so unsightly and can often cause fear or panic, some people would prefer to get rid of them. Because they prefer digging in sparse vegetation, keep your lawn turf thick and well maintained to help discourage them. You can also apply insecticidal dust in and around the burrow entrance. Make sure to read and follow the directions carefully on the product label. Finally, you can contact a pest control company who can safely eliminate them from your yard.
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If you’ve grown up in the southeastern United States, you’ve probably heard someone use the term “palmetto bug” to describe what looks like a cockroach. But have you wondered where the term came from and what type of bug it actually is?
A palmetto bug is actually just a cockroach! The “palmetto bug” is a regional term used to describe various species of cockroaches. Palmetto bugs got their name because they were often found living in and around palmetto trees. While there is NO difference between a palmetto bug and a roach, it is important to identify the roach species being referred to as a palmetto.
The American cockroach is often referred to as a palmetto bug. The largest cockroach in the U.S., these bugs are reddish-brown with a shield-like structure that covers their head. They are considered the fastest running insects, as they will quickly scamper out of sight when someone enters the room. These pests are most active during warm, summer days, although they can still survive in lower temperatures, especially if they make their way inside. The most common places these insects are found are basements, woodpiles, attics, and crawlspaces.
Another roach referred to as a palmetto bug is the smokybrown cockroach. These roaches are dark cherry or red in color with a long body length of around 1.5 inches. Preferring areas of high humidity, these insects will find shelter in neighborhoods with mature hardwood trees to protect them from the wind. These cockroaches are active at night and will often be found in warm habitats such as tree holes, under mulch, in sheds and more.
Finding these pests in your home can be quite alarming. Implementing cockroach prevention measures such as fixing leaks, sealing off entry points, and keeping kitchen and bathrooms clean will help keep these pests out. If this happens despite your best efforts at prevention, consider contacting a professional pest control company that can help identify your pest, locate points of entry, and provide a prevention plan for your property to help keep roaches out.
There is a big debate in the pest control industry as to which is more effective – professional pest control or do it yourself pest control. There is a growing trend among homeowners who want to tackle pest control themselves both to save money and time. These DIY pest control methods employ both chemical and natural remedies. Regardless of which route you take, prevention is always key to controlling household pests. Here are 10 of our most effective DIY pest control tips:
1. Keep It Clean
This one is pretty self explanatory but a clean house is much less attractive and hospitable for pests. Wash dishes daily and clean any food scraps out of the sink. Drain dirty dish water after each use. Keep kitchen counters and surfaces wiped down daily. Store food and drinks in sealing plastic or glass containers. Make sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming part of your regular routine. Use garbage cans with locking lids and empty them regularly. Keep the grass mowed and get rid of weeds. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed back so they aren’t touching the house. Maintain your drainage systems and eliminate any standing water.
2. Make Your Home Less Attractive
Pests come into your home in search of 3 things: food, water, and shelter. If you can eliminate these 3 attractants from your home, pests will have no reason to come in. Keep your home clean as referenced above. Repair any leaky pipes and faucets both inside and outside of the home. Don’t leave pet food and water bowls out overnight. Declutter your home and get rid of any old magazines, junk, etc. Try to use plastic storage bins instead of cardboard boxes.
3. Seal Them Out
Pests can’t get into your home unless they can find a way in. Some pests only need the tiniest of openings to penetrate your house. Inspect the outside of your home for any potential entry points and seal them up with caulk, steel wool, etc. Make sure to check foundations, door frames, windows, utility pipes, cables and wires, and the roof. Repair any broken windows and screens. Fill in any holes, gaps, or cracks in pipes and vents.
4. Maintain the Yard
Your yard is the first line of defense when it comes to pests. They have to come into the yard before they come into the house. Keep your grass cut short and eliminate weeds. Get rid of any piles of leaves, debris, fallen branches, etc. Do the same for old automobiles, trashcans, and dumpsters. Elevate wood piles off the ground or store them in wood boxes with lids.
5. Keep It Dry
Keeping your home well ventilated and dry will go a long way towards keeping pests at bay. Most pests are attracted to moisture and basements, attics, and crawlspaces provide the ideal breeding ground for these. Use a dehumidifier to decrease moisture and consider crawlspace enclosure to not only help eliminate pests but also provide significant energy savings for your home.
6. Do The Laundry
Some pests like dust mites and bed bugs will seek shelter in your bedding, clothes, etc. Wash any clothing, sheets, blankets, quilts, and towels that you come into contact with regularly (at least 3 to 4 times per month). If you have pets, wash their bedding just as often to help eliminate and prevent fleas.
7. Use Plants as Natural Repellents
Some plants are known to be good insect repellents. These provide a green pest control alternative to traditional chemical methods. Plant any of these varieties around your home for a natural remedy to some common pests.
- Spearmint (for ants, beetles, fleas, moths, and rodents)
- Rosemary (for beetles, roaches, flies, slugs, snails, and mosquitoes)
- Basil (for flies, beetles, and mosquitoes)
- Lavender (for fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and moths)
- Chrysanthemum (for ants, bed bugs, beetles, roaches, ticks, and fleas)
- Catnip (for roaches, ants, and weevils)
- Lemongrass (for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and lice)
- Pitcher plants (for beetles, ants, bees, slugs, snails, flies, and wasps)
- Venus flytrap (for all insects)
8. Identify Common Pests in Your Area
Knowledge is power so do some research and learn what the most common pests are in your area and what kind of damage or threat they cause. Pests vary by location and different treatments are required for each of them. Proper identification is key to proper treatment.
9. Leave the Good Ones Alone
While some household pests are dangerous to your health (like rodents and roaches) or can cause significant damage to your home (such as termites), others are actually quite beneficial to have around, especially if you have a garden. Ladybugs eat aphids and are great for the garden. Green lacewings eat aphids and spider mites. Ground beetles eat slugs and caterpillars. Bats (as long as they are outdoors and not inside your home) eat and control the populations of mosquitoes and many other insect species. These beneficial pests are a great natural pesticide to use in place of chemical products.
10. Use the Pros
Sometimes an infestation can be beyond the scope of DIY pest control methods. In these circumstances it is best to call a professional who can properly identify the pest you are dealing with and provide proper treatment, as well as ongoing prevention techniques you can use at home.
If you suspect you have a pest problem, contact your local pest control company for a thorough evaluation.
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