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3 ways to keep bugs out of your house this fall

Source: Source: Emily Hansen, University of Minnesota Extension - Wright, McLeod and Meeker Counties, hans6005@umn.edu 612-394-6302

insect-boxelder-adults-and-nymphs.jpg

Are you seeing an increase in bugs in your home this fall? Are you wondering what you can do to control them? If you said yes to any of those questions, this article will describe three ways that you can take steps to lower the number of bugs invading your home.

When the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it usually signals that winter is coming. Bugs understand those signs as well and get the hint that they need to find shelter. There are three common insects that invade Minnesotan homes in the fall and they are: boxelder bugs, multicolored asian lady beetles, and brown marmorated stink bugs. These insects all have one thing in common - clustering. When the weather cools down, they all move towards homes and cluster together. They are most often seen on parts of homes that receive direct afternoon sunlight. 

Boxelder bug
Boxelder Bug

In order to determine if you have a pest problem, there needs to be a correct identification of the insect you have. Here are some tips in identifying boxelder bugs, multicolored asian lady beetles, and brown marmorated stink bugs:

Boxelder Bugs:

Adult Boxelder Bugs:

  • ½ - 1 inch long

  • Black with orange or red markings that include three stripes on the area right behind the head.

  • Wings lay flat over their bodies and overlap each other to form an ‘X’

Young boxelder bugs:

  • 1/16th - inch long

  • Bright red when they first hatch, they change to red and black as they grow

Two orangish beetles; one with several black spots on its wing covers and one without. Both have a black M-shaped marking behind its head.
Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles:

  • ⅓ - 1 inch long

  • Seen in a range of colors: orange to yellow to red or black.

  • Typically has 19 black spots that can vary in appearance from well-defined to faint traces on the wings.

  • They could also have fewer than 19 spots and maybe even no spots at all.

  • Has a clear black ‘M’ - shaped marking behind its head

  • The ‘M’ can be thick, thin, or broken.

An adult brown marmorated stink bug on a white background.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug:

  • Shield shaped with a smooth rounded shoulder.

  • Brown color

  • Alternating dark and light bands on their antennae and abdomen.

  • Has a stinky odor when disturbed or crushed. 

Although these bugs cluster around homes, they will not do any damage. They do not eat the wood or other materials and they will not spread diseases to people. Their presence is more of an annoyance than a disturbance.

If you have correctly identified one of these three bugs and they are clustering in and around your home, the following will describe three ways you can control them.

  1. Seal your home

    • Check your window screens for holes and patch them up as well as fix broken seals around doors.

    • Take a look at seals where wires, pipes and vents leave your home. They may be entering through these cracks.

  2. Physical Removal

    • Use a shop vacuum and suck up the bugs. After you have sucked the bugs up, make sure you dump them into the garbage or in a bucket of soapy water.

  3. Turn off lights

    • These types of bugs are naturally attracted to light. Make sure to turn off any unnecessary lights. When entering and exiting the home, turn off indoor and outdoor lights that are close to the door opening.

If you find a brown marmorated stink bug cluster around your home, it needs to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. When you find a cluster, take a picture of the bugs, write a short description of what you saw and where you saw it, and email it to reportapest@state.mn.us with your contact information. You can also call the Report a Pest phone line at 1-888-545-6684. 

If you have any questions about this or any horticulture-related topic, please contact your local Extension Educator. Residents of Wright, McLeod, and Meeker counties can contact Emily Hansen at 612-394-6302 or email hans6005@umn.edu

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