For Release September 7, 1999

Brace Yourself For The House Invaders

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

Labor Day is over. Summer is winding down. You step outside in the evening and it gets dark sooner and it cools down much quicker. As the sun sets the evening din increases with cicadas, locusts, grasshoppers, katydids and crickets each singing their own song, hurrying to complete their life cycle’s before the frosts of autumn take them away. The sound of all those late summer insects invokes sweet memories of summers past. Sounds that will all to soon be merely a memory. But when those sounds are in your house, at 4:30 in the morning, they aren’t too sweet and I, for one, find little pleasure in them!

As summer fades and cooler weather starts creeping closer many insect populations not only peak out, but the sense of survival takes over and many of them start looking for any possible way to extend their life. For many this means trying to get into any building that will shelter them from the weather. Unfortunately, many of them head straight for our houses. Now, don’t take it personally. Everybody is fighting the likes of crickets, beetles and spiders.

No matter what you do, you are going to have a few of these in your home. The question does not become will you have them, but rather how many of them will you have? The first step is to reduce the number of entry sites. Make sure that doors and windows fit tight, and then keep them closed. I walked from my kitchen into the garage the other evening and there was a big old cricket at the door making a mad dash for the door when it opened. He was no match for my Reeboks however!

Check all those little holes in your walls where telephone lines and cable lines and all those other utilities enter your home. Make sure these are caulked tight. A small hole may not look like much, but some little critter will find it and come on in! Check your home’s foundation. Sealing up cracks will not only reduce the opportunities for insects to get in, but it’ll also help keep snakes and mice out as well as cold winter drafts!

The next, slightly more aggressive, step is to apply an insecticide treatment to the foundation outside of your house. If you spray up on the foundation a foot or so and out away from the foundation the same distance, you’ll create a zone that as the insects pass through it, trying to get to your home, will pick up the insecticide and in a day or two they will die. Probably the best choices for this foundation treatment will be diazinon or dursban (chlorpyrifos). Follow the directions for around house foundations and nuisance pests. This is slightly stronger than how you would mix it for applying to plants. One treatment in the fall is all you need to apply. It’ll last for several weeks.

The final, most aggressive, line of defense is an indoor insecticide treatment. There are several products that are premixed, ready to use complete with their own trigger sprayer. Do not spray the entire home with these products. They key treatment areas are those where insects will tend to travel. Spray a thin line where the wall and floor meet, primarily around doors and in corners or behind any furniture. These are the areas that invading insects will travel through. They will pick up the insecticide and in a few days the chirping will be over!

I always get questions about hedge balls (Osage Orange fruits), or moth balls or things like this. My experience has been that these items don’t really work. I for one don’t want to be smelling a bunch of moth crystals and there is absolutely no proof that hedge balls do much of anything to repel insects. Invading insects are a nuisance, but fortunately it is just a few weeks of the year when their is a problem!


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