Summer is an indoor-outdoor time of year. Kids, pets, and friends come and go as they please. If summer has a soundtrack, it includes the slam of screen doors. This is a busy time of year for other things, too. Here are four harmless yet creepy intruders who might be visiting your home this season.
The Summertime Rogue's Gallery
Sow bugs. The sow bug isn't an insect at all. It is a tiny crustacean that needs standing water to keep its gills moist. Sow bugs are oval and range from 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. They are medium to dark gray in color, with segmented plates that allow them to roll up into a ball. Sow bugs need standing water to live. They seldom survive indoors, but may be found in damp basements.
Earwigs. Despite their ferocious appearance, these insects don't bite and they want nothing to do with anyone's ears. Earwigs are usually about 5/8 of an inch long. They have flattened, reddish-brown bodies with a pincer-like cerci on the tail end. Earwigs live primarily on decaying plant matter. They don't bite or sting, although they can use their cerci to pinch anyone who tries to handle them.
Stink bugs. These are shield-shaped insects that grow to about half an inch long. They get their name from the unpleasant musty odor they produce when injured or disturbed. Stink bugs live outdoors, where they can be a pest on crops and garden plants. The brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species, is found in many areas of the country. As summer draws to a close, swarms of this species look for shelter in homes and other structures.
Boxelder bugs. As the name implies, these half-inch black-and-red bugs feed on the sap of boxelder trees, as well as that of maple and ash trees. Boxelder bugs swarm on trees and buildings and seek out warm places to spend the winter. Flat, flexible bodies make it easy for boxelder bugs to squeeze through tiny gaps in walls or under doors. Once inside, their waste can leave red or brownish stains on surfaces, especially if the bugs are crushed.
Why They Come Indoors
Earwigs and sow bugs don't last long in the house. They are active at night, and mainly wander inside while searching for food. Stink bugs and boxelder bugs need to find a safe place to spend the winter. They swarm into sheltered places at the end of summer. Once inside, they find a quiet place to hide until spring.
How to Keep Them Out
Summertime invaders don't need much room to get into a house. They squeeze in around doors and windows, creep into foundation cracks, and even catch a ride in potted plants.
- Caulk gaps around windows and door frames. Seal any foundation cracks.
- Install weatherstripping and door sweeps.
- Seal openings where utilities come into the house.
- Replace or repair torn screens.
- Leave a gap between mulch beds and the house to make it harder for earwigs and sow bugs to find their way inside.
- Do not use garden soil for potting plants you intend to bring indoors. It may contain earwigs or sow bugs.
For more information, contact City Service Exterminator Co Inc. or a similar company.