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Michael Wheeler: Insects invade households when cold weather arrives
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Fall is the time when insects may enter homes and buildings from the surrounding landscape looking for a nice place to overwinter.

Common invaders in Georgia include boxelder bugs, lady beetles, spiders, millipedes and now kudzu bugs. These invaders are generally harmless to people and property. They do not feed on people, pets, houseplants, stored products or furnishings. They cannot sting and do not carry disease. They cannot reproduce indoors either. These bugs are merely nuisance pests, especially when they occur in large numbers.

The preferred management for the invaders is prevention: stop them before they enter the house.

Typical exclusion or pest-proofing activities include installing tight-fitting doors and windows; sealing openings and cracks around pipes and wires, windows, doors and chimneys; repairing or replacing window, door and vent screens; and keeping siding eaves and soffits in good repair. Seal up anything you might think a bug can gain access, even if the crack seems too small for it to fit.

When needed, residual insecticide barriers can supplement pest-proofing or be a last resort tactic for keeping insects at bay. Some good chemical sprays used around and in the home are permethrin, bifentrin or Zeta-Cypermethrin. Concentrating the spray application around the home perimeter, door thresholds and window sills will not only limit human exposure to any chemical residue, but it will ensure insects are exposed to the chemical before they get inside your home.

Apply the insecticide according to label directions for the best results. Southern and western sides of homes are where insects are most common.

Sometimes the manufacturer requires you to shake the product well before each use, or they will require you to wear protective gear such as gloves before applying their product.

A household aerosol spray labeled for indoor use containing ready-to-use pyrethroids (resmethrin, tetramethrin, etc.) or other materials provides some control, but is not a long-term solution. Use insecticides indoors sparingly and carefully follow label recommendations.

To remove insects already in the home, use a broom and dustpan or vacuum.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.ugaextension.org/county-offices/hall.html. His column appears biweekly and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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