Garden Corner – Home Invasion

Kelly Jackson
Christian County Extension Office

Home Invasion (of the Insect Kind)

In Kentucky, movement of insects, specifically lady beetles and boxelder bugs, to buildings generally begins in late September continuing through mid-November. While they tend to be more attracted to lighter-colored buildings, illumination or brightness appears to be an even stronger attractant than color.  For this reason, insects tend to initially congregate on the sunnier, southwest side of most buildings.  Homes or buildings that are not brightly illuminated by the sun, especially if shaded on the southwest side, are less likely to attract insects.

Common over-wintering sites include cracks and crevices around windows and doorframes, porches, garages and outbuildings, beneath exterior siding and roof shingles, and within wall voids, attics and soffits.  Structures in poor repair or with many cracks and openings are especially vulnerable to problems.

Pest proofing your home is a good way to exclude these pests.  Install tight-fitting door sweeps or thresholds, seal utility openings, plug holes with caulk and repair damaged window screens.

If insects are found indoors remove them with a vacuum cleaner.  A broom can also be used but is more likely to cause staining since some insects secrete an orange-colored fluid. Insecticide foggers and sprays are not recommended for eliminating pests indoors.  Beetles need to be sprayed directly or they have to crawl over the treated areas for it to be effective.  Such applications create pesticide residues on walls, countertops, and other exposed surfaces.  A vacuum cleaner is more sanitary and effective.

Increasingly more abundant is a fairly new home invader this fall. The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a 5/8-inch-long x 3/8-inch-wide shield-shaped insect; its upper surface is mottled with brown and gray; the underside is white with gray or black markings. A native of the Japan-Korea-China region, this sap-feeding insect was reported first from Allentown, PA in 2001. Since then, it has been discovered in localities in the Northeast as well as Oregon and California. The more common brown and green stink bugs are not common fall invaders in Kentucky.