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Fall Invaders

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My neighbor Biff and I were lounging on my back deck yesterday after work enjoying the cool fall-like temperatures and talking about life in general. “Ahh, I love this time of year” Biff said in a relaxed tone. “The kids are back at school and have soccer practices in the evening, I can come home from work and relax for a few minutes with the windows open to enjoy the cooler evening temperatures.”

“Yeah, it’s nice” I lamented. “Just make sure you have tight-fitting screens on those windows.”

“Why?” Biff questioned.

“Well, you don’t want to invite any fall pests into your home.”

“You mean like my uncle Bobby?”

“No, Biff, I mean like bugs and other pests.”

“Oh, I thought most bugs would be gone by now.”

“No, it’s just the opposite. Many bugs are full grown at this time of year and looking for food and harborage. They start looking for a nice protected place to hunker down for the winter especially when temperatures begin to dip below freezing at night.”

“Which ones should I be concerned about?”

“Well, if you don’t mind sharing your house with bugs you don’t need to be concerned about any of them. But Biff, I know your wife and she doesn’t seem to be the type of person that is willing to share her living space with bugs. Also, I’ve seen you flip out over seeing an earwig in your kitchen once.”

“Those earwigs creep me out. You know they crawl into your ears at night and lay eggs, then the eggs hatch and you have thousands of earwigs eating out your brains!”

“Is that what happened to you Biff?”

“What do you mean?”

“Nevermind. That’s an old wives’ tale, earwigs don’t do that.”

“Well, other than earwigs what other things come inside during the fall?”

“Lots of critters! Cockroaches, crickets, beetles, spiders, centipedes, flies, wasps, rodents, kudzu bugs, and stink bugs – including the new brown marmorated stink bugs moving into the area.”

“What does marm…more…ated mean?”

“I think it means marbled, or covered in marble? It has to do with their appearance. They have white, rectangular-shaped spots on their abdomens that kind of resemble pieces of tile, or marble. Anyway, they can gather in large numbers inside houses and you really don’t want them there because they smell really bad.”

“Well, I have screens on my windows so I don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.”

“Did you inspect those screens this year to make sure they are still tight-fitting and that no rips or tears have occurred?”

“Well, no. I guess I should do that.”

“What about your vents? You also need to inspect your foundation vents and your eave and gable vents to make sure they’re not damaged and they all have screens to prevent pests from entering through them too.”

“Hmm, I suppose I should do that too. What else can I do to make sure pests don’t come into my house this time of year?”

“Check all exterior doors, including the garage door, to make sure the weather-stripping still creates a tight seal. If you can see light coming in around the door, then pests can potentially get in as well. Also, go into your attic on a bright sunny day with the lights off. Everywhere you see sunlight coming inside is a potential entryway for pests. Make repairs and seal cracks to help eliminate these entryways. Seal around pipe penetrations going through the foundation wall. Also, cut down on pest harborage areas around the outside by trimming down trees and bushes near the house, keep the grass cut, and don’t use excessive amounts of mulch or pine straw around the foundation. Correct any moisture issues like standing water near the foundation or in the crawlspace and make sure gutters are not clogged and working properly. Eliminate clutter too. That pile of flower pots by your back deck is a great harborage for many pests, including black widow spiders. You also need to move that pile of firewood away from the house. When our technicians treat for pests this time of year we encourage them to treat around windows, doors, vents, and other potential entryways with a repellent insecticide to help prevent pests from entering through those areas.”

Biff looked exasperated. “Gosh” he said, “I guess I got lots of work to do.”

“It’s not that much” I assured him. “Being a little proactive and doing a little bit of work now will save you headaches later on because once pests get into your home they can be difficult to manage.”

“You’re right. I’ll start on this tomorrow. Hey if it prevents me from hearing my wife scream about bugs in the house it will be worth it.”

“You’re wife will thank you” I smirked.