Cooler temps push insects into homes
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
November 01, 2011 01:01 AM | 4511 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zack Sutton, universal technician for Northwest Exterminating, treats Toni Phillips’ house in Marietta on Monday afternoon. <br> Photo by Todd Hull
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MARIETTA — With temperatures dropping, people may find some unwanted guests coming into their homes.

“With the seasons changing, insects start wanting to come into the house, because most of them like the same temperatures and environment we do,” said Roy Barnes, owner of Barnes Termite and Pest Control in Smyrna.

American cockroaches, ants and black widow spiders are the biggest nuisances for Barnes’ company.

“We have a tremendous amount of problems with ants. They’re actually our No. 1 problem right now, especially with all the construction in the roadways. (Road construction workers) stir (ants) up, and they want to get into a house where it’s warm,” he said.

Jerry Hatch, an entomologist with Northwest Exterminating in Kennesaw, called these bugs “occasional invaders” and “wintering insects.” Crickets, earwigs, certain spiders, centipedes and millipedes fall into this category.

“Once they get in, they can repopulate if they have a suitable habitat,” he said. “They are primarily the nuisance pests.”

Other wintering insects, such as lady bugs, stink bugs or kudzu bugs, will come into homes and hibernate or sleep in the walls or attics.

“They predominantly look at your house for an opportunity for shelter,” he said. “They are looking for a place to hide.”

Arrow Exterminators of Marietta also list flesh flies and bed bugs as problems.

Flesh flies are typically found feeding on decaying flesh, dead insects, excrement, crabs, snails or spiders. Bed bugs come out at night to feed on unsuspecting victims, and although they do not spread disease, they may leave behind itchy, painful welts.

To reduce the number of pests that come into a home or business, Hatch recommends caulking windows, closing weep holes with mesh screening, insulating your home, using yellow light bulbs outside, getting rid of mercury vapor lights, making sure the landscape slopes away from the home or office, not allowing mulch to sit stagnant outside a home, trimming trees so that they do not hang over decks or roofs, and cleaning gutters.

“Anywhere you can have a small, tiny compost pile to generate enough heat to keep even an ant colony alive (should be removed),” he said. “It offers them an opportunity to get into a building.”

Barnes recommended calling a professional if the do-it-yourself solutions do not work.

“All the chemicals (exterminators) use has to be approved,” he said. “A lot of the stuff you buy on the shelves is only about 50 percent as strong as what an exterminator uses.”

Dr. Grace Chiang, a physician with WellStar Allergy and Asthma, said only a handful of these winter nuisances can sicken humans.

“Bites from widow and recluse spiders may result in the need for medical evaluation, but not in all cases,” she said.

She said that some stinging insects are also around during this time of year and could be harmful to people. These include honey bees, yellow jackets, yellow and white-faced hornets and fire ants.

“Those typically don’t cause allergic reactions, but more of an annoying reaction,” she said. “With the venom in some stinging insects, people can develop severe allergic reactions.”

Chiang said a sting from most of the insects should rarely prompt a rush to the emergency room, but some people have allergies that could cause a life-threatening reaction.
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