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What Seattle Residents Should Know About Our Overwintering Pest Management?
The first step is to learn the unique physical characteristics of the overwintering pest. With this information, you can identify the insect species that are invading your home. What are overwintering pests? They are a group of insect species that hibernate throughout the winter months. But, instead of overwintering outdoors in the harsh, cold temperatures, these insect species prefers being in a warm indoor environment.
What Insect Species Overwinter?
There are various insect species that belong to the overwintering pest classification. These include the following:
Each overwintering pest has unique characteristics and behaviors that are often utilized for identification purposes. Exterminators and scientists turn to these unique features to identify insect species that belong to the overwintering classification. With this information, exterminators can determine the best pest control strategy for their clients. Since every overwintering pest is unique, a customized pest control strategy is necessary for maximum results.
Overwintering Box Elder Bug
The Box elder “boxelder” bug is identifiable by its solid black wings outlined in bright red. The box elder bug begins to infiltrate homes in the late fall season in hopes of gaining entrance into a building to avoid spending the cold winter months outdoors. There is no doubt the box elder bug is a nuisance, but since the insect travels in colonies, they are also an infestation threat.
The adult box elder bug grows up to ½” in length. These are not disease-carrying insects but have been associated with foodborne illnesses due to contaminated food ingested by unaware humans.
Overwintering Multi-Colored Asian Lady Bug “Asian Lady Beetle
The Asian lady beetle “ladybug” is a common sighting in Seattle beginning in the late fall. The insect species is easily identified by its orange, yellow, or red polka dotted-wings and black antennas and abdomen. The insect can fly short distances to reach its favorite food source, which is no other than an aphid.
Overwintering Cluster Fly
The cluster fly is oftentimes mistaken for the common housefly because they share many of the same physical characteristics. Like the housefly, the cluster fly has been linked to foodborne illnesses. While only rare, cluster fly-foodborne illnesses are reported in the United States every year.
The cluster fly is an opportunist insect, which means it will utilize every opportunity to invade houses, commercial buildings, government entities, and public facilities like schools, libraries, and museums.
While the cluster fly is drawn to firewood piles, tree bark, and untreated lumber, they are also attracted to the indoors in late fall. The insect will do whatever is necessary to avoid spending the winter months outdoors. If it means taking chances, it means taking chances. Every infiltration will not be successful, but this will not deter the cluster fly from trying again and again until success is reached.
Overwintering Leaf-Footed Pine Seed Bug
The leaf-footed pine seed bug is about ¾” in length, with three pairs of legs, two antennas, and black to reddish/brown coloration. The diet consists of pine seeds, flowers, fruit, pine cone sap, and pine twigs. The insect utilizes its mouthpart to remove sap from the aforementioned natural sources.
While the insect prefers the indoors to the outdoors in the winter, it will oftentimes find itself huddling behind lose pine bard, in hopes of surviving the harsh, cold temperatures, snow, sleet, and icy precipitation.
The leaf-footed pine seed bug does not have a stinger or damage building structures. They just want to infiltrate homes to access warm, safe shelter before winter kicks in.
Overwintering Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, stink bug for short, grows up to ½” in length. Its most unique feature is its diamond-shaped shell-like wings. The insect species’ name comes from its “marmorated” coloration, which is highly visible from a short distance away.
The stink bug is a distinguishable insect, thanks to a foul odor that is emitted when under duress and injured. Originating from Japan and China, the stink bug made its way to the United States in 1998 when sightings were rare. Today, stink bug sightings are extremely common in the late fall when they are trying to infiltrate buildings before overwintering sets in.
What Are The Most Common Signs Of An Overwintering Pest Infestation In Seattle?
The most common sign is live insects on the perimeter of a property. The insects are waiting for an opportunity to invade the building in an attempt to spend the winter in a warm, safe environment. The insect’s body gradually slows, surviving on stored fat and nutrients.
After infiltration, the overwintering pest will most likely not reproduce, since its only goal is to find warm shelter for winter. It is not unusual for overwintering pests to come out of their hiding places when temperatures reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit even though winter is still in full force. The insect makes its presence in a state of confusion, risking detection in the process.
What Is The Best Overwintering Pest Prevention Strategy?
The best overwintering pest prevention is a strategy that combines routine in-home inspections, education, and improved pest barriers. We highly recommend eliminating all potential overwintering pest access points around doors and windows. Utilizing a waterproof sealant like silicone or caulk, fill in small gaps, crevices, and cracks. Larger openings will need a more drastic approach, such as a custom-to-fit piece of plywood, followed up with silicone to seal off edges.
Install screens over windows to keep the insects out. Do not open non-secure windows and doors because they will become overwintering pest access points in the late fall.
Utilize barrier treatment to improve your home’s pest prevention strategy. These products are commercial-grade, which means they will offer a powerful, long-time effect compared to over-the-counter alternatives.
How Do Overwintering Pests Access Buildings?
Damaged Siding, Bricks, And Mortar Joints
Damaged siding, mortar, and bricks will often become access points into a building for overwintering pests. These materials are damaged due to normal wear and tear, exposure to the elements and storms need to be repaired immediately. Utilizing a waterproof sealant, fill in cracks and other minor damage. Replace damaged pieces that cannot be repaired with caulk or silicone.
Around Window Sills And frames
The most common access point for overwintering pests is tiny cracks, crevices, and gaps around window sills and frames. You can also utilize a waterproof sealant to repair these as well.
Exposed Fascia Board
An exposed fascia board can also be utilized by overwintering pests to infiltrate a building or house. It is crucial to repair the damage by utilizing foam insulation. If this does not work, you will need to hire a professional to replace the damaged fascia board.
Damaged Attic Vent And Soffit
Soffit and attic vents oftentimes become overwintering access points in the late fall. Many individuals tend to ignore these very important components that make up their home’s structure. Damaged soffit and attic vents can also be utilized by rodents and other insects. Squirrels will access these damaged components from tree branches and other high surfaces.
Plumbing Pipes And Electrical Wiring Openings
Many home developers do not give much thought to leaving a client’s plumbing pipes and electrical wiring systems exposed to the elements. These large gaps later become access points for rodents, wild animals, and insects, including the overwintering pests. These are very commonly found underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks.
Utilize plywood, steel pot scrubbers, and foam insulation to fill in these openings. Do not stop until every inch of the openings is completely sealed off to the elements, rodents, and insects.
You can also utilize aluminum screens, hardware cloth, and other materials to seal exterior-to-interior openings that are at risk of becoming an overwintering pest access point.