As the weather warms up overwintering pests will begin to wake up and make their way outdoors. One of these is the brown marmorated stinkbug. While these household pests don’t sting, bite, or carry any diseases, they can become a nuisance when they get inside your home. In fact, once you see stinkbugs inside, it’s usually too late to do anything to keep them out.
The brown marmorated stinkbug is native to Asia but was later introduced in the United States. They prefer moist, temperate climates like those of the Eastern US and the Pacific Northwest. Stinkbugs feed on soybeans, corn, fruit, vegetables, and ornamental plants that grow close to homes. Stinkbugs spend the spring and summer seasons outdoors then will seek shelter from the winter elements indoors – often entering your home through cracks, crevices, gaps or holes in your foundation, through chimneys, air conditioning vents, or underneath siding. The prefer homes with lots of trees around and will gravitate to the upper floors of a home.
During the winter months, stinkbugs go into a phase known as diapause, which is similar to hibernation, where the bugs go inactive during the cold weather. When the stinkbugs find a spot to overwinter, they release a pheromone that attracts other stinkbugs to their location. While they typically stay dormant until spring, unusually warm spells during the winter can bring them out full force.
If you encounter stinkbugs in your home, the best way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up and immediately dispose of the bag. When stinkbugs are threatened, disturbed, or squashed, they emit a smell that has been described as anything from cilantro to rotting almonds to spoiled fruit.
The best way to control stinkbugs is to prevent them from getting into your home in the first place. Here are 9 prevention tips for keeping stinkbugs out.
- Seal Them Out. Carefully inspect the exterior of your home to identify potential entry points for stinkbugs. Check around siding and utility pipes, behind chimneys, and under fascia. Seal any problem spots with silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Close chimney flues when not in use.
- Repair. Check doors and windows for any damage. Repair or replace damaged screens. Check weatherstripping and replace if necessary. Check for loose mortar. Install door sweeps if possible.
- Turn Off Lights. Stinkbugs are attracted to light. Try to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum. After dark, turn porch lights off and pull down blinds in your home to reduce the amount of light spilling out from indoors.
- Keep It Dry. Stinkbugs, like other seasonal pests, need water to survive. Check carefully for leaking pipes and faucets and repair them immediately.
- Get Rid of Food. Keep food stored in airtight containers. Dispose of your garbage regularly. Wipe down countertops daily and sweep and mop often.
- Air It Out. Keep areas that stinkbugs can use as a harborage point (garages, crawlspaces, attics, and basements) well ventilated. Consider using a dehumidifier in these areas. Install screens over chimney and attic vents.
- Check It Out. Stinkbugs can hitch a ride into your home in boxes and bags. Carefully inspect any boxes you are bringing in from storage and any grocery bags before you bring them into your home.
- Landscaping. Keep branches and shrubbery well trimmed so they are not in contact with the house. Keep grass mowed and leaves raked. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the house and at least 5 inches off the ground.
- Call A Pro. If you suspect you have a problem with stinkbugs, contact a professional pest control company who can help identify any entry points the bugs may be using and help to eliminate them. They can also use a preventative spray in the late summer/early fall to help keep them out before overwintering season sets in.
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Should you enclose your crawlspace this winter? The resounding answer is yes. There are several benefits to crawlspace enclosure, especially when cold weather sets in and energy costs soar. Most crawlspaces house pipes, ducts, and other appliances. Continuous exposure to cold air and freezing temperatures can lead to frozen and busted pipes and potential water damage. While it is important to keep your crawlspace clean and dry year-round, it is especially important in the winter as it can easily become damp and humid. The excessive moisture and extreme temperatures can also cause significant damage to your home.
While closing your crawlspace vents can help, it is often not enough to keep moisture, insects, and other pests out of your crawlspace. The moisture found in crawlspaces attracts pests like termites, roaches, and millipedes and the crawlspace provides the ideal entry point to your home. The increased humidity also provides the ideal environment for mold and wood rot which can lead to serious health issues for your family and trigger allergies and asthma.
Cold air from your crawlspace can also seep through into your home, keeping your floors cold and causing your heating system to work overtime, greatly increasing your energy costs.
So what can you do this winter to keep the cold and the pests out of your crawlspace? Here are 4 steps to protecting your crawlspace this winter.
1. Clear Those Gutters
Your gutters can’t drain properly when they are clogged with leaves and debris. These clogs cause overflows with the water collecting at the base of the house. This overflow then seeps into the ground and evaporates into your crawlspace. Standing water from clogged gutters also attracts pests like mosquitoes and roaches to your home. Make sure runoff is directed away from the base of your home. If possible, extend your gutters to drain at least 10 feet away from your crawlspace. Make sure your gutters stay clean and free of debris. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs.
2. Close and Seal Air Vents
Although air vents allow air to circulate through your crawlspace, they also provide an entryway for water and moisture. In the winter, close all the air vents to your crawlspace before the temperatures get too cold. Have them sealed properly to prevent rainwater and moisture from getting inside. This also helps ensure your crawlspace stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
3. Seal Your Crawlspace
Your crawlspace walls, corners, and even base can have tiny holes that allow air leaks into the area. Professionally sealing your crawlspace can help prevent air from circulating through these cracks which, in turn, helps reduce humidity and keeps the warm air in.
4. Install A Vapor Barrier
Most crawlspaces have no covering or protection on their floors. A substantial amount of water evaporates from the ground and increases the humidity in the crawlspace. The professional installation of a vapor barrier can help prevent this evaporation and keep water and moisture out.
Whatever the season, crawlspace enclosure is a beneficial addition to your home. It not only helps increase the air quality of your home by preventing mold and wood rot, it also provides a natural pest control barrier. It also helps keep the cold air out, which means your heating unit doesn’t have to work as hard, increasing its efficiency and decreasing your energy costs.
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A very common misconception is that moles hibernate during the winter. This is, in fact, not true. Moles do not hibernate and are quite active during the winter months. They actually remain active all winter long, continuing to dig and eat voraciously. Moles are omnivores that prefer to feast on grubs, earthworms, and other bugs. As the soil freezes, moles move from tunneling near the surface to digging deeper in the ground. When the weather starts to warm, the moles will tunnel closer and closer to the surface as the soil thaws and becomes easier to navigate.
Moles can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden. Moles cause dead grass patches because their tunneling disrupts the root system of grass. This creates patches that often start out yellow and eventually turn a light tan color. They also push soil and grass up as they dig, creating random mole hills across your yard. While these are easy to spot in the summertime, they can often go undetected in the winter months, giving you less opportunity to identify and eliminate them early. Because of this, it is important to take precautionary measures early before the winter season sets in. Here are some steps you can take for mole prevention this winter.
Keep It Dry
Overuse of sprinklers and irrigation systems can lead to saturated, loose soil – an ideal environment for moles. This loose soil is much easier to tunnel through and is often rich with earthworms and grubs, making it a literal feast for moles. Heavy rainfall can also create these conditions so it is important to be vigilant after storms. Limit watering unless necessary.
Lay Mulch Later
Mulch is a very effective insulator for plants during cold weather. While we are usually inclined to go ahead and mulch before the cold weather sets in, this creates an insulated environment for moles, as well as your plants. Instead of installing mulch in early fall, try to wait until after the first frost. Hopefully by that point, moles and other pests have established themselves in a more hospitable environment than in your yard.
Physical barriers can be very effective at preventing more damage to flowerbeds and trees. These barriers can be in the form of hardware cloth liners in the bottom and sides of flowerbeds or across the top of the bed to prevent digging or wrapped around the base of trees. By preventing them from digging you can limit the damage inflicted and hopefully encourage them to move on to another yard.
Utilize Natural Predators
Cats, snakes, and birds of prey are the most common natural predators of moles. Cats are especially notorious for pest prevention and rodent control around properties. If you don’t already have a cat, you may consider adopting one to roam your property and provide you with free pest control. Although it may be difficult, reconsider killing that snake you find on your property as they are also excellent at controlling rodent and other pest populations.
Eliminate Food Sources
As mentioned above, moles prefer to feed on earthworms, grubs, and other insects. In fact, mole problems often arise because of underlying grub problems. Be proactive in eliminating grubs and other pests from your yard to help control mole populations, as well.
Call A Professional
The cliche of “making a mountain out of a mole hill” isn’t far from the truth. Mole problems can manifest quickly into mole infestations and they can be extremely difficult to control and eliminate. Consider contacting a professional pest control company and setting up ongoing pest control services as these scheduled visits can help identify mole problems early and help resolve your mole issue quickly.
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Winter can be a difficult time for cockroaches. While they are adapted to thrive in warm temperatures, these cold-blooded pests cannot survive environments that are too hot or too cold. In fact, some species stop growing and reproducing when exposed to colder temperatures, usually consistently below 45 degrees, for extended periods of time. As temperatures drop, roaches will seek out shelter in warm places, most often in our homes and offices. These buildings provide them with everything they need to survive the winter – warmth, access to water, and an abundant supply of food.
Prevention is key when it comes to roaches. Here are 5 tips to prevent cockroaches from taking over your home this winter.
1. Clean Thoroughly.
Roaches are attracted to dirt and crumbs as a source of food Make sure to always wash dishes after a meal and put them away. Clean up any crumbs and spills immediately. Take out the garbage before going to bed. Clean any grease from your stovetop. Keep food sealed in airtight containers. Sweep, mop, and vacuum on a regular basis. Don’t leave pet food, treats, and water out overnight.
Clearing out clutter gets rid of places roaches can use to hide. Keep rooms clutter free and dusted often. Use plastic storage bins with lockable lids versus cardboard boxes. Eliminate newspapers and cardboard altogether as roaches love to breed in these materials.
3. Seal It Up
Roaches get into homes under doors and through cracks. Identifying these and sealing them up helps eliminate points of entry for cockroaches and other pests. Thoroughly inspect around windows and doors, along foundations and the roof, in attics and crawlspace vents, and around holes used for utility and plumbing lines. For small holes and cracks, use caulk to seal them. For larger holes, especially around pipes, use steel wool and foam to seal. Fine mesh wire can be used to seal around attic vents and chimneys.
4. Fix Leaks
Roaches, like most pests, need water and moisture to survive. Therefore, standing water or excessive moisture can attract roaches to your home. Regularly inspect your plumbing for leaks and repair them immediately. Make sure to check faucets, sinks, refrigerators, and appliances for leaks and excessive moisture. Crawlspaces are also a common source of excess moisture in homes. Consider crawlspace enclosure to help minimize moisture under your home.
5. Call A Pro
A cockroach infestation can be extremely difficult to control. Prevention can only go so far in the battle against roaches. If you suspect you have a problem with cockroaches, contact a professional pest control company who can help identify the type of roach you have, thoroughly inspect your home to identify points of entry or food sources, and help set you up with a comprehensive roach control treatment and prevention plan.
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This is the biggest time of year for travel! While remembering to pack the perfect outfit or the kids’ favorite game may be on the top of your growing to-do list, something you may not be thinking about is preventing a bed bug infestation from following you back home. This should move towards the top of the list, however, as a bed bug infestation is difficult to treat. Here are a few places where bed bugs are found:
- Airplanes: Seats, vents, and carpets make prime hiding places on planes. Once arriving home, leaving your carry-ons in the garage or carport after a flight is an important way to cut down on the chance of bed bugs finding their way into your home.
- Stuffed Animals: While visiting others during the holidays, little ones can pick up bed bugs via their toys or stuffed animals. Be sure to wash stuffed animals with hot water and dry them on high heat; rinse toys with hot water and bleach and let them air dry.
- Purses: Seams and pockets are perfect places for bed bugs to burrow and hide. If placed on the ground or near infested furniture, bed bugs can take up residence, hitching a ride back home when you leave.
Double checking your belongings when you arrive home can help prevent the establishment of a bed bug haven. Be sure to check out these other ways to prevent bed bugs. If you believe you have a bed bug infestation, it is imperative to call a professional bed bug control company immediately.