Gardening & Living in Grand Style
Cooler weather spurs insects to look for a winter home...
by Michael Johnson
Oct 04, 2012 | 590 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s that time of year when the days are cooler and the evening air takes on a bit of a chill. We find ourselves contemplating what we will be doing during the colder months and checking on those last outdoor projects.

However, we aren’t the only ones considering how to while away the colder months. Our insect friends are also looking for more comfortable locales. While fall isn’t the only time insects can move into our homes, now is a good time to check around the outside of the house and take steps to limit their access – unless you happen to be one of the few that open up your arms to having insects inside your home.

One of the first things to do is make sure you aren’t already providing habitat close to your home for insects. Insects love to have places to hide and any materials piled up close to homes, such as wood, rocks, brush and even boxes and shelves on a carport, give insects a natural place to hide. And that can make it easier for them to move indoors when they take a notion. The best solution: Keep these things away from the sides of the house.

Insects also seem to love climbing bushes and trees and coming into a building from above. Trimming plants back a bit so they aren’t in permanent contact with your home can help immensely.

Obviously, having any cracks or holes in your walls that allow access inside is a problem. However, it doesn’t have to be a big hole or crack, since even really small, barely visible ones can provide great opportunities for many insects. Caulk any opening you can find, and when the crack or hole is so small that you can’t get caulk to work use something like petroleum jelly or paint to cover the area. Also, if you have vents under your eaves make sure you have screens on those vents.

Many people will resort to applying an insecticidal barrier spray – either conventional or organic – around the building. Exactly how well this works is up for debate, but if you are going to do so, then the general rule of thumb is to apply the product from the edge of the house out two or three feet, a similar distance up the side of the house and also around windows and doors.

Even if you do all of the above it’s still very possible you could find some insects inside, as they do seem to magically appear at times. As someone not partial to using insecticides in the house, I resort to using glue boards inside. These are often referred to as mouse/insect glue boards. However, these specific glue boards are not the mouse glue traps with raised edges and a thicker bed of glue inside. Only the occasional insect would climb in those. The most useful ones are the flat cardboard glue boards that you can fold into a triangle or square so the boards sit flat on the floor. These help monitor what is in the house as well as providing some measure of insect control by trapping the insects. Placing these behind doors, up against walls, behind chairs or under furniture can really help you get a handle on what’s in the house.

I will caution you that even for those who think their homes have no or few insects, it can often be an eye-opener when they check these after a few weeks or months. For those with pets, unless you can train your pet to leave the traps alone or place them where the pets can’t get to them, they might not be so useful since a paw or a nose on the glue will attach it to the pet as well as an insect.

Thought for the day: “Nothing seems to please a fly so much as to be taken for a currant; and if it can be baked in a cake and palmed off on the unwary, it dies happy.” —Mark Twain

For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at mike.johnson@usu.edu.

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