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Insect Pests Want ‘In’

Insect Pests Want ‘In’

AUBURN, Ala.—Social media outlets detail stories of lady beetles invading homes through cracks, crevices and doors during the fall. These insect pests aren’t the only ones seeking warmer shelter during the cooler months. Stinkbugs and kudzu bugs are also likely to be found in homes as the weather begins to change.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System entomologist Dr. Xing Ping Hu said homeowners may experience lots of different pests trying to enter the home for warmth and overwintering.

Kudzu Bugs

“Kudzu bugs are a nuisance that invade homes, yards and landscapes,” Hu said. “They are more problematic in later fall when they seek protected warm habitats for overwintering, often wandering into homes.”

Hu also said the bugs emit a foul smelling pheromone when disturbed. Aside from the smell, the bugs can stain fabric and skin.

Kudzu bugs may invade homes or vehicles and may also infest tender buds and stems of plants in the back yard or garden landscape. These small, olive green, lady-bug sized bugs are sometimes mistaken for beetles, but piercing-sucking mouth parts set them apart from other pests.

Kudzu Bug. Image by Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, bugwood.org.

Kudzu bug control is fairly simple. Generally, there is no reason for use of pesticides unless a large concentration of the pests is in an area where pesticide use is unlikely to cause issues. To remove bugs from plants, use a high-powered hose or soapy water. Knocking plants with a rod to remove bugs is also an easy removal method. Kudzu bugs play dead when bothered, so it is important to dispose of the bugs properly, either by vacuuming or by immersing them in hot soapy water.

Hu said vacuuming is the best method for removal of pests inside the home. Crushing them will leave a strong odor and may leave hard-to-remove stains. She said because the bugs play dead, sealing them inside a plastic bag may help prevent re-infestation.

Asian Lady Beetles or Lady Bugs

Asian lady beetles were imported for use as a biological control agent for crop-destroying insects in the U.S.

While ladybugs can be beneficial to the environment, they are also seen as pests because of their infestation capabilities and for omitting a yellow defensive chemical that has an unpleasant odor. This yellow fluid can stain walls and fabrics, as well as cause mild skin-related allergic reactions in some people.

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. Image by Bill Ree, Texas A&M, bugwood.org.

“As one of the world’s most invasive insects, the Asian lady beetle, characterized by a black M marker on its cream-yellow head, is often seen as a pest because of its tendency to enter homes, have an unpleasant odor and leave stains on fabrics or walls,” said Hu, who is also a professor in the Auburn University Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Lady beetles are not poisonous or harmful to humans, just unpleasant to have around or inside the house. They will not damage homes, chew holes in walls or eat carpet or furniture. The greatest damage caused by these insects is the discomfort they give to residents. It is common for ladybugs to congregate by the thousands in attics, wall voids in the corners of ceilings. During warmer hours, they may enter into house living areas.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) pose significant damage to agricultural crops, but this insect is also a home invader. When the weather becomes cooler, adult BMSB look for overwintering sites. You may find BMSB on the outsides of buildings or inside near doors, windowsills and other entry points. They also hide in leaf litter and vegetation outdoors. In areas where they have become established, they may enter structures by the hundreds or thousands.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Image by Susan Ellis, bugwood.org.

Like other pests, they enter homes through cracks and crevices. They can congregate almost anywhere—on bookcases; under beds and sofas; in cracks under or behind baseboards; on windows and around doors; and in attics. These pests will not cause structural damage or reproduce in homes.

BMSB do not bite people or pets. They do not damage buildings. Some people may be sensitive to pest allergens, though they do not transmit disease or cause physical harm. Disturbed bugs may leave stains or a bad odor behind when overwintering in large numbers.

More Information

More information on these pests and others can be found by visiting www.aces.edu.




Feature image by shutterstock.com/Dave Cloninger.

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