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Overwintering Pests

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How To Identify Overwintering Pests

When dealing with any type of pest, especially the overwintering pest, it is best to start with the basics. 

The Basics

When you heard the term overwintering pests, it doesn’t necessarily mean a specific species. It is a term that refers to pests in the winter stage. This, of course, will be pests that are located in the Midwest or North where winters can be long and harsh. When you hear the term overwinter, it means that the pest is preparing for the upcoming winter season. They are likely taking shelter in protected areas to huddle away from the frost and snow. This is where the indoors come in handy, especially between the walls and open attic spaces.

What Types Of Pests Overwinter?

You’ve heard of a bear hibernating, right? Well, this would pretty much be the same thing as overwintering. The only difference is, a bear is not an insect or pest. That being said, not all pests overwinter. The ones that do and pose potential threats to homeowners in Atlanta, GA, and surrounding areas are:

Boxelder Bugs

The boxelder bugs aren’t much of a problem in the summer unless you maintain a garden. These are garden pests that like to feed on the seeds of boxelder and maple trees, hence the name. If you are a common gardener it is possible that you are already familiar with this type of insect. That being said, these bugs can become a real nuisance when winter rolls around. This is because they’ll seek out shelter to protect themselves from the upcoming winter season.

They are about ½ inch in length with black and red markings. While they can easily slip through cracks and crevices of the home, many will mistake these bugs for lightning bugs, as they have an extremely similar appearance. The good thing is, they don’t sting, bite, cause physical damage, or transmit diseases of any kind. However, they can be a problem when crushed because they emit an odor and leave behind stains.

Asian Lady Beetles

The Asian Lady Beetle might just appear like the traditional beetle to the untrained eye, but this is completely inaccurate. Their habits are anything, unlike the beetle. Asian Lady Beetles like to find their way into homes and structures when seeking a safe haven from winter. These pests have been known to bite and will emit foul odors when crushed. It has been said that they also taste terrible so be careful about ingesting them. As far as threats go, it doesn’t seem that they pose any threat.

Cluster Flies

The Cluster Fly might be a pest that is known for its unique outdoor lifecycle, but when the temperatures drop down below certain temperatures, they will seek refuge inside. Another thing that separates them from the pack is, they originate as a parasite within an earthworm. In colder temperatures, in addition to seeking refuge inside, they’ll also cluster together as a pack and seek shelter behind loose bark and wood planks, hence the name. 

Leaf-Footed Pine Seed Bugs

While this parasite only produces one new generation each year, it can still be troubling for any homeowner that is unlucky enough to have them inhabit their home. The adults of this species measure at ¾ inches long and come with a dull-brownish hide. Leaf-Footed Pine Seed Bugs like to feed on pine cones and seeds during the summer months when readily available. When the winter months start to settle in they will seek warmth shelter.

Their usual choice is huddling behind tree bark of pine and conifer trees, but they have been known to enter structures through small gaps and openings. The troubling thing about this pest is, when their shelters are warmed by the sun they suddenly appear in large numbers. This in conjunction with their larger size can make them quite the nuisance for any unsuspecting homeowner. Just because they don’t sting or bite doesn’t mean that they can’t be destructive. In fact, they have been known to wreak havoc on building foundations and other structures.

The Stink Bug Or New Kid In Town

The adult stink bug also commonly referred to as the marmorated bug measures about ½ inch in length and is shaped somewhat like a knight’s shield. They get their name from their appearance, which is that or a marbled pattern (marmorated). These bugs were just recently introduced into the United States via Asia, but they have become quite a nuisance. This is especially true during the summer months. During these months, they prefer to feed on vegetable crops, fruit trees, and some ornamental plants.

During the winter months, these bugs like to take up residence in homes or other nearby structures. Despite all of this, these bugs are most highly known for the odor they create when they are crushed. However, these pests can easily be eliminated via vacuum cleaners. You can suck them up and empty them out with the trash.

How To Know If You Are Dealing With An Overwintering Pest Infestation?

Overwintering pests will usually make their presence known during warm spells in the winter months. This is usually right around the time your HVAC system or the sun warms the home. This is when the pests come active and you’ll see them emerging indoors. They usually like to enter the home through the living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens via little cracks and crevices in the floors, walls, and ceilings.

Despite all of this, their appearance indoors is really accidental. They aren’t looking to stay indoors. They are actually looking to head back outside, but sometimes have a hard time getting back out there. They’ve just made their way inside to seek refuge from the winter cold. When the winter weather starts to break, they’ll try to head back outdoors, but oftentimes get turned around and trapped in the home. A lot of these bugs will become even more confused and end up heading further into the structure of the building. All you have to do when spotting these creatures is give them a helping hand back outdoors.

Is There A Way To Prevent These Pests?

The best way to deal with most pests is to prevent them from entering the home in the first place. The same can be said for overwintering pests. This is something you’ll want to do during the fall, right before winter sets in. In order to do this, you’ll have to start with identifying openings, gaps, and entry points throughout the home. When you are sealing in and around the home, you have to be realistic, as every little bit helps. Just a little bit of effort can make the biggest difference in the world. You’d be surprised.

Screen Openings, Seal Gaps, And Crevices Along With Other Small Entry Sites

When you seal off these areas, you’ll eliminate entry points and pests will have an extremely hard time entering the structure. This will highly increase your chances of ending up with a pest-free home when summer rolls around.

Protective Exterior Barrier Treatment

Going the extra mile and adding a protective exterior barrier to the home can do wonders. It will triple your chances of entering the summer months with a pest-free home. This is something that is offered by a lot of professional companies. They’ll use industrial-strength products specifically designed to eliminate pest infestations. These products have a much longer residual life than a lot of similar products that can be purchased over the counter.

There are over-the-counter protective exterior barrier treatments available that homeowners can buy and purchase on their own, but as you can see, it might not be the best option available. Dealing with a professional and spending a bit more might be your best option.

The Most Common Points Of Entry

While there are tons of spots where overwintering pests can enter the home or structure, there are some areas that are more common than others. Some of these areas can and will include:

Brick And Mortar Joints

A joint between two bricks is generally a little lower than the face of the bricks they are installed between. The same can be said for bricks that are installed against other materials. Wood would be the perfect example. This is why most professional seal between the two with mortar, caulking, or other sealants. The only problem with this is, caulking, molding, and other sealants stretch and expand over time, sometimes leaving small cracks and crevices that critters can enter through. This is one of the opportune entry places for overwintering pests.

Underneath Window Frames

When windows are installed most professionals will take the time to carefully caulk and seal on the top and sides to help keep water out. However, they do not seal or caulk on the bottom, as it is not needed to keep water and moisture out. Unfortunately, this does not mean that it will keep out pests. Taking the time to seal these openings will help increase the chances of having a pest-free home by the time summer rolls around.

Soffit And Attic Vents

Backing your attic and vents with screening can be an excellent way to deter pests. It is possible that yours is already screened, but there is also a chance that it might not be. With a ladder and some time, you can carefully check. Even though there is screening installed, you’ll still want to take the time to make sure it is pristine. Make sure there are no holes, tears, or gaps. If there is, rodents will be able to penetrate the structure.

Utility Openings

There are a lot of utility openings in any given home. These openings are where wires, pipes, vents, cables, and other household utilities enter through. Most of these openings will be sealed with caulking or molding, but this expands and shrinks over time. Just the slightest opening will be an open invitation for critters, especially overwinter pests. The best way to ensure that your home stays pest-free is by resealing around these cracks and crevices. You also have the option of turning to a professional management company in the Atlanta, GA area.

There are tons of them and they will know exactly which openings to check. They’ll also know how to proceed if the openings are vulnerable.

Sealing Up My Home

It is entirely possible for any homeowner to seal his or her home on their own. With just a little bit of know-how and effort, any homeowner can properly seal around their home to prevent pest infestation. That being said, homeowners will have to make sure they are utilizing the right materials.

Exclusion Materials

Any material that can be used to prevent pests from entering the home is referred to as exclusion materials. These commonly used products are not only one of the best ways to deter pests, but they are an excellent way to keep year-round nuisance critters like mice and bats out of the structure.

The Right Materials For The Right Surfaces

Caulking is the best option for joints that won’t see movement. Brick would be the perfect example.

Any joint that will experience a variation in width over the seasons will need to be sealed with what is known as a sealant. Aluminum and wood would be the perfect examples of these types of materials.

Other Exclusion Materials

Foam insulation is another great option as it is flexible and can fill longer gaps.

Aluminum screening is one of the cheaper options, but do not be fooled by its affordable price because it is long-lasting, can be rolled up, and can be twisted to fit in various locations.

Hardware cloth is a pretty good option as well, as it can act like a heavy-duty screen

Pot scrubbers are another material that nicely fits into small gaps and various openings.

Regardless of the situation, you always have access to pest management professionals in your area. All you have to do is pick up the phone and make the call to the right company. Take your time and do your research and you’ll be doing yourself as well as your home a huge justice.

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