The Winter of Their Discontent: Winter Pests Find Your House Just as Warm and Comfy as You.

 In News
Midwestern overwintering rodents and insects become a problem in late October, when the temperature cools and everyone starts looking for a warm protected place to spend the winter. So be on the lookout for the uninvited guests of winter – They may show up for Thanksgiving dinner, but they may not leave until after Easter.

Is There a Mouse in the House?
By this time each year in the U.S., domestic rodents will have already found places they plan to spend the winter; and this may very well be in your home with you! The house mouse (Mus musculus, Latin for “little thief”) is the most common pest in and around human dwellings and businesses. They damage and destroy materials by gnawing wires, eating your food, and attacking decorations such as holiday wreathes. They account for many unexplained fires in structures because they can chew through wires. To some, mice may look cuddly, but they are known to carry over 20 different pathogens of human disease, not to mention their association with ectoparasites (ticks and fleas).The house mouse is about three inches in length, and is gray with dull white belly fur. An adult weighs about an ounce, but eats often and is constantly leaving droppings and urine droplets as it forages for food, mates and harborage. Mice also breed rapidly. A house mouse is mature within 35 days after birth, and can have a first litter of up to eight pups at 60 days old. Individuals usually live only about a year, however, if all their offspring were to survive and reproduce at a similar rate, one pair of house mice could potentially produce a population of more than 500 young in one year! Mice are acrobatic and can jump about a foot straight up from a standing position and they can jump down more than six feet without getting hurt. An adult mouse can squeeze through a crack or hole as small as 1/4 inch (the size of diameter of a #2 pencil) and can quickly climb straight up an eight-foot wall of brick or wood paneling in less than half a minute. Even though one mouse doesn’t eat much, as their population grows, they can eat a surprising amount of food. They can also damage food containers, and their droppings and urine contaminate a lot more food than they eat. In one year, one mouse produces up to 18,000 droppings; it will deposit hundreds of micro-droplets of urine every day as it marks its trails.If you see mice or other rodents, or their signs such as droppings in your house or business, don’t panic. The wisest thing to do is to call Anderson. We can help determine what rodents you may have, where they are entering the structure, and the extent of the problem. We can help you plan and carry out an effective rodent control program that will protect you, your family, your customers, and your property.

If you see mice, other rodents, or their droppings, don’t panic. The wisest thing to do is to call Anderson.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Mice are the number one cause of unexplained fires because of their tendency to gnaw on wires?
  • Mice can contaminate food and transmit various pathogens, such as Salmonella, the causative agent of food poisoning, by walking across various foods or food preparation surfaces?
  • The F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) allows a certain number of mouse debris per food item?

Getting Rid of Mickey – The Anderson Solution

Your Anderson technician will:

  • Conduct a full property inspection that includes the interior and exterior of your home or business.
  • Safely place rodent control stations inside to eliminate active rodent infestation.
  • Remove all mouse bait after the infestation has been eliminated.
  • Safely place traps and monitoring stations on the inside of your home to rid of rodents and monitor further activity.
  • Seal small common entry points if they are contributing to the infestation.
  • Create a full report describing the treatment and how you can protect your home from further infestations.

The Anderson Guarantee

  • If there is any activity within 60 days of treatment your Anderson technician will retreat the area free of charge.
  • Our Four Seasons program, which covers over 40 common pests, will ensure your property and home is protected throughout the entire year.

Ladybugs

Lady bird beetles, aka lady bugs or lady beetles, are generally considered beneficial insects, and in fact, you can often buy them at the local garden store for use in your own garden. They have voracious appetites for aphids and other pests of garden plants, so gardeners will happily release them into their gardens in the summer as a green pest management option.

The problem lies in the need for some species of ladybugs to spend winter in a protected structure, like your home! (The native lady beetle does not require a structure, but the multicolored Asian lady beetle, an exotic pest, does.) As summer ends and temperatures cool, in move the lady beetles! You often find them congregating in great numbers on the sunny southwest side of a building. They slowly find their way into structures under eaves and siding, through cracks and around screens. Soon, you are sharing your living space with ladybeetles; sometimes thousands of them! Of course, you may not see them immediately. They usually head for the dark void areas behind walls and in attic and crawlspaces to spend their winter vacation. It’s on those sunny, warmer winter days that suddenly your living space, especially around windows and doors, becomes inundated with these creatures.

As summer ends and temperatures cool, in move the lady beetles! You often find them congregating in great numbers on the sunny southwest side of a building. On warm winter days, your living space, especially around windows and doors, can become inundated with these creatures.

Adult Asian lady beetles are oval, convex, and about 1/4-inch long. Their color can vary widely from light orange to red. They often have several black spots on the wing covers, although on some spots may be indistinct or absent. Multi-spotted individuals tend to be females while those with few or no spots tend to be males. Most beetles have a small, dark ‘M’-shaped marking on the whitish area behind the head. Individual beetles can live up to three years.

Lady beetles are a nuisance, can bite, emit an odor, and can stain some surfaces with a yellow secretion they produce. Some people also have asthmatic reactions and are allergic to their shed skins. Once inside, it is easiest to remove them by vacuuming. After you’ve vacuumed, remove the vacuum bag and put it in the freezer to kill the contained ladybugs.

Sealing cracks and crevices is a permanent way to prevent them from entering a building. Pay special attention to areas such as cracks around windows, doors, soffits, fascia boards, utility conduit openings, etc. These can all become common entry points for the beetles. Door sweeps and weather stripping can close gaps below doorways and other entry points.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call; we can make recommendations and take steps to eliminate your lady beetle problem. After we conduct a thorough inspection and identify the entry points, we can also target treat these areas and the exterior to prevent beetles from entering; (these treatments are best done in the fall months). Once beetles have infested your home, we can provide you some temporary relief with vacuuming, light traps and void treatments. Hopefully, this will allow you to enjoy a pest-free winter.

Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder Bugs are found primarily on maple and ash trees during the spring and summer. The adults are about 12½ mm (½ in) long with a dark brown or black coloration, relieved by red wing veins and markings on the abdomen.

In late autumn and early winter, they can become household pests. The adult insects seek wintering hibernation locations and find their way into buildings through crevices. They remain inactive inside the walls (and behind siding) while the weather is cool. When the heating systems revive them, they begin to enter inhabited parts of the buildings. In the spring, the bugs leave their winter hibernation locations to lay eggs on maple or ash trees.

Fortunately, Boxelder bugs do not bite people and are essentially harmless to property. When abundant, they can stain walls, curtains, and other surfaces with their excrement. Occasionally some may seek moisture and may be found around houseplants, although they rarely attack them. In the few cases when they do feed, Boxelder bugs are very unlikely to injure indoor plants.

Some homes are especially attractive to Boxelder bugs, while neighboring buildings may have few. This usually depends upon the amount of sunny exposure a building receives. Boxelder bugs like warm areas and are attracted to buildings with a large southern or western exposure. Buildings standing taller than surrounding structures or standing isolated on flat ground can also attract large numbers of Boxelder bugs. Color does not appear to influence Boxelder bugs as they are found on buildings of all hues.

As the weather cools, Boxelder bugs push into cracks and spaces around homes. In some cases they end up in the interior of buildings where they are often found around windows. They remain active until it becomes cold, which could continue into winter when the weather is mild. While you may see persistent numbers of these bugs, individuals are short-lived, only surviving for a few days up to a week. Other Boxelder bugs end up in sheltered areas in walls, attics and similar areas where they remain until it warms up.

Boxelder bugs are black with red lines and oval-shaped. The young look similar but lack wings and are often bright red in color. From mid-spring to late summer they feed on seeds and leaves of Boxelder and maple trees. They are abundant during hot, dry summers.

During winter, Boxelder bugs are generally inactive. However, during mild, sunny days, Boxelder bugs become mobile with the increased temperature. They enter a home’s interior from overwintering areas within the home, e.g., in walls or attics. As they wake up, they follow the warmth into the home’s living quarters. Once there, they typically move towards windows and other sunny areas. However, the warmth does not reach the insects equally and they do not all become active at the same time.

Eventually by spring, all the surviving Boxelder bugs that overwintered inside buildings become active. They try to move outdoors but many remain trapped inside. Despite the circumstantial evidence, they do not reproduce in homes — all the Boxelder bugs seen inside during winter and spring entered buildings the previous fall.

Boxelder bugs are not a serious problem every year. They are most abundant during hot, dry summers when followed by warm springs.

Indian Meal Moths

The common name for this species was coined by Asa Fitch, an entomologist employed by the state of New York during the nineteenth century. In a report published in 1856, Fitch described the species, noting that the larvae infest stores of cornmeal, which was then called “Indian meal”.

Indian Meal moths are also sometimes referred to as “flour moths” or “pantry moths”.

Adult moths are 8-10 mm in length with 16-20 mm wingspans. The outer half of their forewings are bronze, copper, or dark gray in color, while the upper half are yellowish-gray, with a dark band at the intersection between the two.

The entire life cycle may range from 30 to 300 days.

After larvae or moths have been found, it is important to throw out all grains (cereal, bread, pasta, rice), spices, dried fruits (raisins), and any other food sources that are not in very tightly sealed containers. The moths are able to get into surprisingly tight spots, including sealed bags and Tupperware containers. The food they infest will often seem to be webbed together. They are also notoriously difficult to get rid of, and can crawl on ceilings and spin cocoons in rooms other than the kitchen or pantry where they hatched. Larvae are able to travel significant distances before they pupate. When seeking the source of an infestation, do not limit your searches to the immediate area where pupae are discovered.

One way to keep the moths away is to place bay leaves in the food containers along with the original grains. However, products already affected should still be thrown away.

Got a problem with Boxelder Bugs or Indian Meal Moths?
Call today for The Anderson Solution:

Your Anderson technician will:

  • Conduct a full property inspection that includes your yard and home.
  • Apply EPA-registered material outside where the offending insects are seen in the autumn months to reduce the infestation.
  • Compile a full report on how you can further protect your home which include:
    • Install or repair screen and/or chimney caps.
    • Apply silicon sealant around utility lines, window and door frames. Exclusion should be performed from June or July as not to trap in any insects.
    • Vacuum these insects in the morning and in the evening.
    • Install insect light traps in attics to reduce populations over the winter