What are occasional invaders? When summer has faded and the days start to get cooler, you might think that the warm weather bugs are dying off. Not quite.
As fall is arriving and temperatures start dropping, bugs seek warmer environments (just like we do), and often, they'll want to seek refuge in your home. These bugs are referred to as “occasional invaders.”
Even though occasional invaders can be a year-round nuisance to homeowners, they are particularly annoying when they invade homes in large numbers. This is because they find that in the spring and summer, the conditions inside a home are far better for them than outdoors (i.e. getting out of extremely hot temperatures, dry conditions, etc.), and as the months grow colder, they are trying to escape the chill.
In late autumn, occasional invaders begin to enter structures as weather conditions become too cold and hostile for their survival. To help keep your home bug-free, learn about the different types of occasional invading pests, as well as how to prevent them from coming inside and how to get rid of the bugs that do.
PILL BUGS (Armadillidiidae vulgare)
Often better known as "roly-polys," pill bugs are terrestrial isopods (crustaceans), which live predominantly on land, as opposed to their distant seafaring relatives like shrimp, crabs, and lobsters. Pill bugs are dark brown to black in color, only measure about 0.3 - 0.5 inches (8-12 mm) in length, and have seven pairs of legs on their oval bodies, which are made up of seven individual plates. They also have the ability to roll up into a ball when disturbed.
The most effective way to prevent a pill bug infestation is to remove any of their food sources such as vegetable or plant debris, along with moisture, from around the foundation of your home. Upon entering homes, pill bugs will often dry out and die before too long.
Common types of crickets you will encounter indoors include House crickets, Field crickets, Mole crickets, and Camel crickets.
HOUSE CRICKETS (Acheta domesticus)
House crickets got their nicknames because they often enter homes, especially in the fall when their food resources dry up. Adults are typically yellowish-brown/tan in color with dark crossbands on their heads and are only about ¾ -⅞” inches in length. One signature identifier is their antennae, which is almost always longer than the length of the rest of their body. House crickets are known for their loud chirping (which attracts female crickets), and are rarely found west of the Rocky Mountains.
FIELD CRICKETS (Gryllinae)
Field cricket adults are black and also loud chirpers. They are known for roaming around outside in the tall grass, ground, and even in piles of lawn debris. They typically consume animal waste and plant matter, though they are also known for consuming the pupae of certain insect pests. In large quantities, they might attack ornamental or vegetable plants. Field crickets are usually black in color, and about one and a half to two inches in length. These crickets are common food for many other types of pests (which they will attract when they head indoors), and are more typically found in sheds and garages, as opposed to being inside homes.
MOLE CRICKETS (Gryllotalpidae)
These curious-looking insects will remind you of a cross between a cricket and a lobster. Adult Mole crickets are brownish/black in color and typically an inch or two in length, they are most common in the southeastern part of the United States. They are infamous for invading lawns (and can do quite a bit of damage if left unchecked), but you might also see them indoors.
They are known for causing an estimated tens of millions of dollars in turf damage every year in several southern U.S. states. Just in Florida, the damage Mole crickets cause is calculated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. If you live in the south, keep your eyes peeled for mole crickets!
CAMEL CRICKETS (Rhaphidophoridae)
Camel (Camelback) crickets (also Spider crickets, Cave crickets, "land shrimp") are nocturnal insects with huge hind legs for jumping. If you are hearing chirping sounds, you do not have Camel Crickets because they do not make chirping noises like normal crickets. Adult Camel cricket colors typically range from light tan to brown and they measure about an inch in length. These crickets are omnivorous, and will eat just about anything, including fungi, plant matter, other insects, and even fabrics.
Camel crickets love moist, dark, and damp areas, so you'll typically find them in your garage, crawlspace, and basement.
The best way to get rid of crickets is to eliminate areas of moisture in and around your home. Be sure to keep grass cut, remove weeds, and keep firewood at least 20 feet from the home. Provide adequate ventilation throughout areas such as crawlspaces, basements, and attics. In addition, change outdoor lighting to less-attractive yellow bulbs. It is also important to seal any possible points of entry around the house, including cracks, crevices, windows, and door frames.
Millipedes are arthropods (myriapod invertebrates), sometimes called “thousand-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs. Adults from the most common species are brownish or black, and measure up to an inch or two in length, though some species may measure up to 14 inches! In all actuality, they can have between 30-90 plus pairs of legs, dependent upon species. Unlike centipedes, millipedes are slow movers (you'll notice the wavy motion of their legs as they scoot forward) and tend to curl up and release foul-smelling secretions when disturbed (wash your hands if you handle one! Some species will cause you blisters with their secretions). Millipedes do not sting humans like centipedes can.
The best way to prevent and get rid of millipedes is to remove any areas of moisture in your home and away from your home's foundation (mulch, grass clippings, rotting logs, firewood piles, stones, etc.). You may consider using a dehumidifier for your damp basement and crawlspaces to rid excess moisture, but at the very least, make sure they are well ventilated. Keep your lawn and shrubbery well-trimmed, to reduce moisture retention. Also, keep your yard free of grass clippings and leaf piles. You can also make it a habit to water lawns in the early morning so that the grass can dry during the day (millipedes are nocturnal). Like pill bugs, if millipedes do make it into your home, they won't survive long without moisture.
Centipedes are predatory arthropods, and often referred to as “hundred-leggers.” They can often have between 15-177 pairs of legs, dependent upon species. They typically move very fast and some species can actually sting humans. Adult centipedes are tan/light yellowish-brown to darker brown in color, and range in length from less than half an inch to up to 12 inches long.
The best way to prevent or get rid of centipedes is to eliminate areas of moisture in and around your home. Be sure to remove grass clippings and leaf piles, and to store firewood at least 20 feet from the side of your home. Adequate ventilation (dehumidifier, if necessary) in crawl spaces, basements and attics will also aid in prevention.
Earwigs are arthropods, with elongated cylindrical bodies that are reddish-brown to black in color, 0.2 to 2 inches in length, with threatening-looking "pincers" extending from the backs of their bodies. These pincers (cerci) make them easy to identify (Pincers are longer in males than in females).
They get their common name from the myth that they crawl into people’s ears while they are asleep to tunnel into their brains. They can bite and pinch people who handle them, but are otherwise harmless.
The most effective way to get rid of earwigs and prevent them from entering your home is to remove moisture and harborage around the foundation, as you would to get rid of millipedes. Be sure to remove sites such as leaf piles, mulch piles, and other vegetation debris around your home. You can also reduce outdoor night lighting and ensure that cracks, crevices, and other possible points of entry into your home, are sealed.
Springtails form the largest of the three groups of "hexapods" that are no longer designated as insects, and they can be found all year round. They are tiny and difficult to spot, measuring from .25 mm to 6 mm in length, and are dark-colored, ranging between brown, grey or black. Some species may be white or even brightly colored. Springtails can survive cold and harsh winter temperatures due to a chemical in their bodies called glycerol, which acts as an anti-freeze. These minuscule creatures get around by jumping (up to several inches!), as they have no wings.
In order to prevent springtails from infesting your home, be sure to reduce sources of excessive moisture throughout the home. Also be sure to eliminate standing water in your yard and fix leaky pipes indoors and outdoors, as these help create ideal conditions for springtails. Sealing off potential foundation entry points into your home also helps, as it does against all unwelcome bugs.
Once you've done what you can to help prevent bugs in your home, you can always spot treat for any of these pests as you see them indoors, using an effective botanical home bug spray, like Maggie's Farm Simply Effective Home Bug Spray to get rid of a wide variety of bugs and spiders. This will effectively kill on contact the bugs you can see, but won't address other bugs in hiding. For broader perimeter protection around your home outside (which is where bug problems often begin), try Maggie's Farm Simply Effective Yard Bug Spray. Using Maggie's Farm Simply Effective Spider & Insect Dust or Maggie's Farm Simply Effective Bed Bug Killer in cracks and crevices (see our bed bug dust application guide here) around your home's foundation (anywhere bugs might be able to gain access), and indoors in out-of-the-way areas, like wall voids, cracks, crevices, underneath appliances and cabinets, etc. will help in the long term. These dusts stay effective for several months and even years if left dry and undisturbed.
Occasional invader pests are, well, pesty and unpleasant to see around the house, but harmless for the most part. If you find yourself facing an infestation that becomes too severe, contact a pest control company for further assistance.
What is your approach to keeping occasional invaders at bay? Let us know by leaving a comment! We want to hear from you!
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