For Release September 26, 2004

The Invasion Has Started!

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

The annual invasion has started and it will continue for the next 4 to 6 weeks. This is the invasion that happens every fall starting in late September and continues until we've had enough cold weather to settle things down for the winter. The invaders are not human, and what is being invaded is our homes. The invaders may have anywhere from a few hundred to no legs. Some are quite small, and others amazingly large.

When the weather starts to cool off there are many critters looking to find a good place to spend the winter. Some of these critters will snuggle into a building someplace just in time to go to sleep hoping not to wake up until the warming weather of next spring arrives. Some of these invaders would be scorpions, lizards, snakes and insects such as Box Elder Bugs, Elm Leaf Beetles and Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles.

Other's come into your house to shelter themselves from the brutal winter weather but stay active and can cause problems. This would include mice, some rat species, spiders, especially large wolf spider species and insects such as crickets. Then we have another group of critters that don't so much get into our house as they take up residence around or under or homes, decks or out buildings. This includes such nefarious critters as 'possums, coons and skunks. In the case of skunks, it isn't so much the cooler weather, as it is a case of they young ones are nearly full grown and mom has kicked them out of the house so they have to find their own home now!

The first and most important step is exclusion. Don't ever let them get into your home. Make sure that the foundation is sealed up. Cracks need to be caulked, windows or screens need to be secure and fit tight. Entries into crawl ways also need to be well sealed up. Remember, some of these beasts are very small and it takes a smaller opening than you may think to allow them passage.

Make sure that door jambs fit tight and that garage doors seal properly as well. Many of the smaller pests, right up to the size of mice, often come right in the door. Spend the next week looking down every time you walk into your house. You might be surprised at what is waiting there to come in. Then think about how many times you leave a door open as you bring groceries in from the car. It's no wonder we don't have more friends in the house!

If you are being troubled with a lot of insects then spray the foundation and outside areas of entryways with an insecticide such as permethrin or Tempo (cyfluthrin). Spray up on the foundation and out away from the foundation. One treatment is all that should be necessary. If you feel that you need to spray inside the house, use one of the premixed ready to use products labeled for indoor use. Treat the inside of entryways and then treat along the baseboard areas. Insects tend to travel these areas, not across open floor spaces, so keep the insecticides where the insects travel.

Many times there isn't much we can do to exclude skunks and other critters from under, in or around outbuildings. If a skunk does try to take up residence it is important to try to discourage it as soon as possible. The longer they've lived in a place, the more they want to stay there. You can try moth balls or cleaning ammonia, but you may have to resort to trapping if all else fails. So keep those critters out of your house and enjoy the autumn!


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