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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Falling for pests (AKA: They want warmth too!)

Autumn is my favorite season. The leaves are changing, the temps are cooling off, my favorite holiday happens (Halloween!), and campfires are perfect in the evening with a mug of mulled wine. Especially as the temperatures start dropping, we want to be inside where it’s safe and warm. Pests want that too. Across the country, different pest species are looking to get into structures where they can be protected from the elements.

So far, it’s been a good year if you are a rodent. News outlets across the country are reporting on increases in rodent activity. Much of this has been due to the pandemic. With business closures, their “normal” food supplies in urban and commercial environments drying up. They have moved to where the food is: residential areas. Temperatures have been warm, food supplies are available, and aside from fires in the west, there haven’t been many major weather events (floods, droughts, extreme temps) to stress out the populations. As it starts to cool in the late fall, all those rodents are going to be looking for a safe, warm space, hopefully with food, to overwinter. Businesses have been opening back up and these (as well as residences) are going to be prone to rodents. Maintenance and possibly pest control has been lacking, due to being closed. So there are now openings, sanitation issues, and a lack of pest prevention that will allow rodents in.

Don’t forget to look up. Roof rats are going to enter at the top so take advantage of a sunny summer day to get up on the roofs and inspect up high. Look for trees and branches touching the structures and exclusion issues.

Insects like lady beetles, stink bugs, boxelder bugs, and cluster flies will be looking for that safe warm spot to overwinter. While these aren’t harmful to people or property, they are a nuisance and a potential food safety contamination concern. I’ve been seeing lots of brown marmorated stink bugs here in northeast Georgia lately. These will be congregating outside in the fall, gathering inside in the winter, and trying to escape structures in the spring. Doors and windows are the obvious entry points but pay attention to vents, air handling units, and electrical and cable lines entering the structure. Once the beetles get in, there’s not much to be done but physically removing them. So a bit of prevention now can save you some headaches over the winter.

While they don’t invade in mass like the above pests, spiders and scorpions can also get into structures to while away the winter in the temperature controlled comfort. While they are beneficial and are eating those pest species, I understand most folks don’t want them inside.

Another pest to consider are the Dermestid beetles. These are the warehouse, larder, hide, and carpet beetles. They have a native outside population that has had all summer to grow into large numbers. With the pandemic, many people have stockpiled food, especially dry goods like pasta, cereals, crackers, and baking ingredients. All it takes is a couple of the beetles to get in, and they find a surplus of food that wasn’t intended for them. Stored product pests are active year-round since they are after the foods we eat, however in the fall, there is a greater chance of them finding their way in from the outside. Ensure all dry food items are properly stored and sealed against these hungry little beetles.

Unlike the seasonal pests that get in structures in the fall, Dermestids will find a food source, reproduce, and reach infestation levels quickly. Most stored product pests need only about a month to go from the egg stage to the adult stage.

The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true when it comes to pest management in the autumn. Depending on where you live, you may already be experiencing these pests entering structures. It’s not too late to perform needed repairs, clean up food resources, and have a pest management plan in place. Contact us to let me know what type of pest issue you are dealing with and find out how I can help!


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