How to Protect Your Home from Overwintering Pests

Western Conifer Seed Bug on white Background - Leptoglossus occidentalis (Heidemann, 1910)
The Western Conifer Seed Bug is the most common type of stink bug in Massachusetts

Colder weather in New England means holidays, hot, chocolate, and lots of good food! But there’s a downside to the weather getting colder: humans aren’t the only ones who want a warm place to spend the late fall and winter. Various overwintering pests will soon be on the move in search of shelter for the colder months. Unfortunately for homeowners in Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut, they might try to spend the winter inside your house! How can you protect your home from overwintering pests?

 

What does Overwintering Mean?

Overwintering is the process by which some insects pass through, or ‘wait out’ the winter season to protect themselves from cold temperatures. The overwintering insects will find a suitable site, such as under tree bark, beneath plant matter, or inside structures– like your house! Any insect activity will cease until conditions become suitable again.

 

What Kind of Pests Overwinter?

 

  • Stink Bugs – The brown marmorated stink bug and western conifer seed bug have quickly spread throughout much of the United States. The majority of their lifecycle is spent outdoors, but they become a smelly nuisance when they invade homes searching for overwintering sites.

 

  • Asian Lady Beetles – Most species of this beetle family pose little threat to humans.  However, the multicolored Asian lady beetle can aggravate asthma and cause allergic reactions. They also tend to exude a staining, yellow, foul-smelling fluid.

 

  • Boxelder Bugs – Boxelder bugs congregate on warm spots on buildings before migrating indoors to overwinter in insulated cracks and crevices. Their fecal material can discolor fabric or furniture. They also occasionally bite when handled, causing slight irritation.

 

  • Rodents – Although they don’t technically “overwinter,” mice and rats are active year-round and scurry indoors when the weather cools to nest and be close to food sources. Their incessant gnawing can cause damage and even spark electrical fires. They are also a sanitation issue, contaminating food and defecating on surfaces like counters where food is prepared.

 

How Can I Guard My Home Against Overwintering Pests?

To protect your home from overwintering pests, here’s what you can do:

  • Repair torn screens
  • Seal cracks with high quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk
  • Fill holes around utilities with steel wool
  • Install door sweeps on exterior entrances.

If you see a group of overwintering pests congregating on an exterior wall of your home, it means they’re scouting you for a winter hideout! Contact your local pest control professional if you see this happening. As always, feel free to give Graduate a call for any of your pest problems this fall and winter!

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