While we discuss many specific kinds of pests in the Kansas City area, there are several pests which may find their way into our homes in the late summer or early autumn. They do not fit into any of the classifications listed in the Pest Gallery; yet they can be a nuisance simply by their presence. For a quick review, let’s look at some pictures, read about them and how to manage them.
Who doesn’t like lady beetles? They are often beautiful and, to many, signs of good luck. Not only that, they are beneficial, with their larvae devouring huge numbers of aphids and other pests which feed on our flowers and crops. They are so useful that we have imported at least one which is even more voracious than our native species.
One of the imported ones is the multi-colored Asian lady beetle. The main reason that we imported that one is because it does an extra-good job of getting rid of those insects which feed on our flowers and food.
They are easy to identify. Although they have a variety of markings on their wing covers, they and only they have a little black “M” (or “W”) depending upon which way you are looking at it, on the space between the head and the wing covers. None of our native species has that marking.
But that particular one, seen above, has an unwelcome habit. The adults love to spend winters in our homes. In Kansas City and other regions of the country, they do so in such numbers that they become a real pest, marring their otherwise glowing reputation. We often find them by the hundreds – even thousands, on the outside of our buildings. If we do nothing about them, we find them later, inside our homes, crawling all over the place.
Cluster flies are about the same size as house flies, but do not have the same color or markings. They can be recognized by golden hairs on the top of the body, behind the head. However, as they age they will often lose those hairs. On the top of the abdomen, the last part of the body, you will see a rather checkerboard pattern of color.
Unlike the house fly and many others, cluster flies do not breed in garbage or other filth. They lay their eggs in soil and the young feed on earthworms. They cause no damage indoors, nor can they reproduce indoors. They are simply a nuisance, by their presence.
That presence is due to their need to overwinter in sheltered locations, such as your home. Therefore, in the early fall days, they begin gathering on the outside of structures, usually on the south and west sides of the building. They seek cracks, crevices, holes and loose screens through which they enter the walls or attics. From there, they often wind up visiting you.
Boxelder bugs are black, with orange or red markings and about ½ inch log. They are flattened, with their wings laying crisscrossed flat along their back.
When they first emerge from hibernation in the spring, they feed on low vegetation and then move up and begin feeding on the sap of female boxelder trees, along with maple and ash trees.
During autumn, they begin leaving their sources of food and seek shelter from the winter’s cold. It is then that they become a problem, as they enter our homes.
Clover mites are typical outdoor pests and are all too common in the Kansas City area. They are not insects; rather, they are in the same class of animal life as spiders and ticks, but very small -- about 1/25th inch long. They are foliage feeders and love feeding on your lawn.
But they also need to hibernate during the cooler months of the year and thus find their way into your homes. More often than not they do so through cracks and crevices in the outside walls or through or around loosely-fit windows. You notice them as little crawling specks which, when squished, leave a red, blood-like stain on your drapes, windowsills, furniture and paper.
Some mites can bite and even transmit disease; these do not. They are simply a nuisance which must be dealt with.
As with other pests which have already been mentioned, preventing entry is the first order of business. Doing such things as repairing or replacing door sweeps, making sure that screens are in good repair and fit tightly is a good beginning. Sealing around utility penetrations and caulking cracks and crevices not only prevents their entry, but also prevents heat loss in the Winter.
Inside, clean up clutter and maintain good housekeeping. This is essential because, if you have done the other things, the crickets will find other things, like dropped food and other dead insects.
Control methods such as over-the-counter products labeled for use against crickets can be useful. However, spraying the air or surface spraying of large areas is not only useless but may also be detrimental to your health.
Once they are in your house, the safest, most effective control will be had by calling Augustine Services at 913-362-4399 in Kansas or 816-421-6882 in Missouri.