For Release October 22, 2006

The Annual Fall Invasion Has Begun


by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

For maximum effect, you first need to have some really dramatic music playing in the background. Then you need to read the following sentences with that deep spooky voice that those scary movie commercials always have. "They are coming even as we speak. They are outside your house. They are coming inside your house. The thought of them brings terror to your mind. They are at the door right now! Can nothing stop these creatures from entering your house?"

Even though Halloween is just a few days away, we aren't talking about spooks or goblins or monsters. We're talking about spiders, boxelder bugs, mice and maybe even scorpions. We're talking about those creatures that normally live outside your house, but are now looking for a nice place to spend the winter. They're the members of the annual fall home invasion.

Let's get one thing straight right away. There's no easy way to deal with this problem. The solutions that seem too simple and easy to be true, probably aren't true. The electronic ultrasound devices don't work. The fruit of the osage orange, a.k.a hedge balls, placed in strategic locations in your house don't work. The magic fru-fru dust that Aunt Mabel always swears by, isn't going to do it either. Don't waste your time, money or effort. Get back to basics and do what works!

What works the best is exclusion. Don't give the critters a chance to get in your house to begin with. Make sure that cracks in the foundation are caulked shut. Make sure that utility entrances are closed up tight with caulking. Make sure that doors and windows fit snug and that weather stripping is in good repair and makes an effective seal. Make sure that the screening that fits over attic vents or soffit vents is in place and well sealed.

Amazingly, many of the critters come right in the front door, or the back door, or the door from the garage. They saunter in as you go back to the car for the last back of groceries, leaving the door slightly ajar. They hide by the front door and scurry in when you come in from the day at work, immediately running along the floor at the baseboard to hide behind the easy chair or the magazine rack. Some have even been known to come in with the morning paper or the armload of firewood in the evening.

If you want to spray an insecticide around the outside of the house, that's fine. Be sure to follow the label directions. But if you haven't done all the exclusion work first, the results will be less than satisfactory. If you want to spray insecticides in the house, use the premixed ready to use products that are labeled for indoor pest control. Then use them at the thresholds and along the baseboard in both directions. You can also spray under sinks and where utilities enter the house. You don't want to spray all over the house, just where they are likely to come in.

If you wind up with a mouse in the house, don't expect them to leave on their own. Figure out how they got in the house or you'll be dealing with more than one. Then you will need to rely on traps or poisons to eliminate the ones already in the house. The bottom line is that every house is going to have a few guests every year. It doesn't mean you are a failure as a house keeper. But, if you have a lot of guests, on a regular basis, then you probably have some problems some where that need to be addressed, and maybe we need to visit about that!


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