October 3, 2007 | By: Carol Lea Spence

It's been a long hot summer, but all things eventually come to an end. Before cold weather arrives, now is the best time to pest proof before warmth-seeking insects turn their sights on your home.

Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture entomologist, says the annual migration of beetles, crickets, and caterpillars to the warm environs of our homes is part of nature’s survival plan.

“If you’re going to make it through the winter here in Kentucky, you’re going to have to have some sort of strategy to do that,” he said. “Some spend the winter as eggs that we never see. Some spend the winter as pupae down in the soil. It varies with the insect. But for the ones that are spending the winter in an active stage, they’re the ones that can wander indoors accidentally because they’re just looking for a crack or crevice to get into. When they get inside and it’s warm, they’ll be able to be active the rest of the year.”

An invasion by over-wintering insects doesn’t necessarily carry the seeds of destruction for your home. Instead, they are primarily nuisances. Some, such as the lady beetles, have odors. Some will stain if mashed. Aside from that, they are not directly harmful, Townsend said.

So what can a homeowner do to seal a house against six-legged invaders? Townsend says there are some simple things that can be done to turn them back before they enter your abode, and maybe even decrease utility bills at the same time. Install door sweeps on exterior doors. Seal utility openings where pipes and wires enter the foundation. Seal cracks and crevices around windows and doors. Install quarter-inch wire mesh on attic and soffit vents to keep out creatures. Also, an exterior or barrier insecticide treatment can be applied around the foundation of a home to prevent insects from coming in that way.

And don’t forget about firewood. Wood boring insects and those that are over-wintering beneath the bark can come inside on logs. These types of wood borers are not typically ones that can damage a house, but an influx of them can create an annoyance. Townsend recommends bringing in only what you need and burning it within two or three days, rather than bringing in a large load of firewood for long periods. 

“There are no good alternatives for dealing with these pests once they get indoors, so prevention is really the key to avoiding problems later on during the winter,” he said.

For more information about managing household pests, contact the local Cooperative Extension office.


Lee Townsend, 859-257-7455