How To Keep Deer Away During Winter

Image Courtesy of University of Maryland Extension

I think winter is, despite its faults, a beautiful time of year. I love the stillness of the cold and that silence that only comes in a snowfall. I miss seeing all the little critters that roam the outdoors. They’re still there, though. All the birds that visit the feeder during the cold months are snowbirds that stick around all year or come to my state to live in the Wisconsin winter. The squirrels are still scurrying about, and even the deer are still roaming around.

We often think that all wildlife animals are hibernating, so we don’t need to worry about them until spring arrives again. However, deer are still abundant and might still look to your property for some food. If deer are a problem during the warmer months, it’s even more important to maintain your control efforts even during the winter.

Winter Deer Behavior
Deer eat about half as much food in the winter, eating a lower protein diet that is less digestible. This means it takes more energy to break down the food, resulting in less calories consumed. However, they may still come by to nibble some branches or twigs from your new tree or scrape bark off of others.  It is important to prevent deer from establishing a feeding pattern on your property all year, and allowing deer to enter your property during the winter can potentially undo all your deer control efforts from the spring and fall.

How to Keep Deer Away During Winter

There are several steps you can take to prevent deer from damaging your plants and protecting your property from deer browsing. All it takes are a few preventative measures and a little diligence to keep your yard or property deer free even in winter.

  • If there are any potential food sources available to deer, try to remove them as often as possible. Spilled bird seed can supply the food deer want, so consider using bird seed cakes instead.
  • Protect shrubs, low plants, and young trees from deer damage by wrapping the shrubs, plants, and trees in burlap, frost blankets, or other plant covers, and use tree tubes on trunks of trees. Wire cages can help to protect larger trees.
  • Fencing materials, like snow fences or temporary roll out fences can create a barrier that will help to deter deer from specific areas or groups of trees.
  • Deer repellent products can still be used in winter. Just be sure to follow the label’s suggestion for winter use. Using them before the frost and snow can be helpful.
  • Visual and audio deterrents, like motion activated floodlights, Mylar tape, and wind chimes can help to startle and deter deer from the area.
  • These steps are most important if the deer pressure in your area is high and you often have difficulty with deer. If deer pressure is low, you may only have to wrap your plants or hang up wind chimes to keep deer away. Assess your situation to pick the best combination from this list.

Bed Bug Myth Busting: Get The Facts

bed bugBed bugs are always a hot topic, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Even though they’re common pests, there are a lot of misconceptions about bedbugs, and the knowledge people have about them can be skewed by rumors or misunderstandings about how they operate.

Knowing the facts about a pest you want to control is one of the most important parts of DIY pest control. It makes controlling and dealing with these pests easier, because you’re armed with the knowledge of what to look for, what to expect, and what to do. Bed bugs are no exception, and it can be even more crucial to know all the facts about bed bugs, since these bugs are major public health pests.

Hopefully you will learn some important facts here about bed bugs, and will be armed with a bit more information before you tackle your own bed bug infestation. Misinformation can impede your efforts, and get in the way of preventing and controlling bed bugs in your community and throughout the country.

It takes lots of hard work and patience, but we are here to help you with all aspects of doing your own bed bug control, from proper control tactics and the best products and how to use them. Check out our many articles and products on getting rid of bed bugs, so you can be totally prepared for a bed bug infestation.

Myth 1: Bed bugs are only found in dirty, urban areas

A clean house will not protect you from a bedbug infestation – if only it was that easy! Bed bugs have been found everywhere. Clean or dirty, suburban and urban, they do not discriminate. While cluttered areas make it easier for bedbugs to hide out during the day, as long as they have a food source near, they are happy to set up camp anywhere.

Myth 2: Bite marks are always a sign of bed bugs

Bite marks are not the best way to diagnose a bed bug infestation in your home. This is because of two reasons: bed bug bites and other insect bites can often resemble each other, and some people do not experience any reaction from a bed bug bite. In fact, even if people are sleeping in the same bed, one may wake up with bite marks, itchy welts, and more, the other may not. You probably won’t even feel the bite as it happens. While bite marks can indicate bites, looking for live bugs, cast skins, fecal smears, and other more telltale signs is a more useful way to determine if you have bed bugs.

Myth 3: Bed bugs can spread diseases and are a threat to public health

Bed bugs are not known to spread or carry any diseases. While they are public health pests, they will not make you sick or put you in danger in any way. The worst you will experience are itchy welts from the bites, and perhaps some psychological torment because of the bugs living in your home.

Myth 4: Once you have bed bugs, you should get rid of all infested items, including furniture and clothing

Luckily, this is not the case. Many times you can simply launder any clothing and washable items to kill any existing bugs and eggs on the items, and furniture may be properly treated if it can be taken apart. Mattresses and bed frames do not have to be discarded. There are many products on the market today, like Sterifab and bed bug couch covers, which allow you to keep your items despite a bed bug infestation.

Myth 5: Bed bugs only bite in the dark and will not come out in a brightly lit room

It’s true that bed bugs prefer dark spaces, but if they need to feed, they will no matter if it is night or day, dark or light. They generally hide in tiny cracks and crevices during the day, simply because no one is resting or sleeping and they have no opportunity to feed. However, if someone is resting or napping in a lit room or during the day, they are still susceptible to bites.

Myth 6: Bed bugs are only in your bed

This myth can really hurt your bed bug control efforts. Bed bugs can be found all over your home wherever people sleep or rest. A favorite recliner or couch is just as susceptible to harboring bed bugs as your mattress and box spring. For that matter, bedbugs are not confined to hiding in the furniture. You might find them hiding in your dresser, behind picture frames, or really any crack or crevice near the rest area. When doing bed bug inspection, it’s crucial to check all of these areas, not simply the couch, chair, or bed. Check out our bed bug inspection guide for the most thorough approach.

 

5 Rat Facts You Need To Know

ratA while ago I posted about mice, and all the little things you may not know about these prolific pests. Well, it’s the rat’s turn. Rats are just as unwanted as mice in your home, and these facts are definitely something you’ll want to check out. Not only are they pretty interesting (as much as facts about rodents can be), they’ll help you to understand these nasty pests better so your rodent control will be successful.

In this instance we’re talking about Norway rats and roof rats, grouped into the Old World rat category. They’re the most common rats you’ll deal with.

1) Rats eat a lot – and will eat almost anything.

You’re probably thinking you already knew this, but I’m not sure you quite understand how much rats actually eat. Every day, rats eat about ten percent of their body weight. Every day! And while they prefer a nice, balanced diet of fresh foods, they’ll scavenge to meet their needs and will eat anything from garbage to other rats. They also need about an ounce of water every day, too, which is quite a bit for a fairly small creature.

What this means for rat control:

It’s going to be pretty tough to get rid of all the food sources that will attract rats. Rats need food and water every single day to survive, and limiting these sources can help to put the rat population in a stressed state and make your home less desirable.

2) Rat Populations Can Explode-fast.

Rodents are known for their prolific breeding, but a rat population can quickly get out of hand and go from a couple rats to hundreds in a matter of months. Rats can reproduce at 90 days old, and each female can produce an average of 4-6 litters every year, with about 6-12 rats in each litter. This means one female rat can produce over 70 rats each year. You can see how quickly a few rats can become hundreds.

What this means for rat control:

Since rats breed so quickly, it’s so important to make sure they can’t get into your home to begin with. Rats can get in gaps, cracks, and holes as small as ½ inch, so ensuring your home is rat and rodent proof is crucial to avoiding large scale infestations that can wreak havoc inside your home.

3) Rats Are Sharper Than You Think

Rats sort of get the reputation of bumbling garbage disposals that simply eat everything they can find. While the latter part is true, they extremely keen senses of smell, hearing, and taste, which makes it very easy for them to seek out food. They do most of their foraging at night, relying on all their senses to find available food. They can also climb very well, which allows them to reach any height to get to their food, water, and nest site.

What this means for rat control:

Rat-proofing extends inside the home as well. Putting all your food in pest-proof containers, like metal, glass, or hard plastic. Rats can easily chew through paper and plastic food packages, and will go to many lengths to get the food they seek.

4) Rats Are Very Loud

Rats squeak and fight, crawl, scramble, and gnaw. They don’t try to be quiet at all, and sometimes are so loud, you might get the impression a much larger animal has camped out in your walls or ceiling.

What this means for rat control:

This is an advantage for you, since you’ll be much more likely to pinpoint lots of rat activity based on where you hear them most frequently. Of course, you’ll probably encounter many other signs of rats, including gnawing damage and droppings, but the noise may be able to clue you in to nest sites.

5) Rats Have Impressively Large Teeth

If you’ve ever seen a rat, you’ve gotten a glimpse of their long front incisors that give them their characteristic look. These teeth can grow five inches each year, and to keep them at a manageable length, rats need to wear them down by gnawing. They need to gnaw, and it is one of the rat’s most annoying behaviors.

What this means for rat control:

Rats prefer to gnaw on hard edges like door corners, joists, siding, around pipes, and more. This gnawing can cause extensive damage, especially if rats get a hold of plumbing and electrical materials. While the gnawing damage can clue you in to a rat problem in your home, it is really tough to avoid gnawing damage once rats get in.

 

Don’t Get Cozy With Snakes: Indoor Snake Control

Snakes aren’t creatures people generally see as beneficial. I haven’t met many people who are happy to see a snake in their yard. I’ve tried and tried to convince my mother-in-law that no, a snake is not going to “get you” on the bike trail while you’re on your bike.

Eastern Garter Snake

What I’m saying is, snakes get a bad rep. I’m not saying you need to live with a bunch of snakes around, especially if there are large numbers huddling around your foundation or even poisonous ones creeping around. Snake Hibernation In the fall and winter, you might find a snake, or several, in your basement or huddled near your foundation. Snakes are exothermic, which means they regulate their body temperature by behavior within their environment. For example, a cold snake will bask in the sun, and a warm snake will seek shade. Temperatures dropping below only 60 degrees Fahrenheit can trigger the hibernation response in snakes. When you come across a large number of the same species of snakes, you have probably found a hibernation location. Indoor Snake Control

snakes in glue trap

Snakes are often found in basements and cisterns, as well as seldom used or abandoned buildings. They hole up for winter in habitats they find pleasing, and sometimes that is in your home, anywhere the snakes are comfortable. If snakes are a concern for you and your family, you should make your home and yard as unwelcoming to snakes as possible. Here are some steps you should take to eliminate snakes from your home and yard with successful snake control. Create an Unwelcome Habitat: If snakes have no reason to come into your yard for food and shelter, it’s much less likely they’ll find your home as an attractive overwintering site.

  • All season long, keep grass cut short and any vegetation trimmed. This will cut back on the shelter available for snakes. A snake moving through a short lawn makes them vulnerable to predators like hawks, so snakes will avoid these spaces.
  • Cleaning up piles of junk, boards, rocks, piles of logs, brush, etc., also reduces shelter not only for snakes but for other animals and insects that make up the snake’s diet.
  • Always store firewood off the ground and away from any buildings.

Create a Snake-Proof Home: Snake-proofing your home should ideally start before snakes start to move toward hibernation, but it can be done at any time. Snake proofing, by default, will help protect your home from other pests as well.

  • Any cracks or gaps larger than ¼” should be sealed with caulk, expanding foam, or hardware cloth. Pay close attention to the ground level, making sure there are no openings at all.
  • Seal not only the outside of your home, but the inside as well.
  • Eliminate damp areas in your home by using humidifiers, fixing any leaky pipes, etc.

 Indoor Snake Removal: Getting snakes out isn’t scary or particularly difficult, but using the right tools can make it much easier.

  • Snake tongs make it easy to safely grab snakes and remove them from your home.
  • Glue traps make it easy to trap snakes if they’re not out in the open. Take the trap to a location away from your home and pour vegetable oil on the trap, which will loosen the adhesive and allow the snake to escape. If you are using these traps, make sure you are monitoring them frequently so the snakes do not die in the traps.

Christmas Tree Pests: Bugs At Home For The Holidays

Cinara Aphids on Douglas Fir, Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

This year, for the first time, I’m going to chop down a Christmas tree. Okay well, I probably will just watch my husband do it. He alluded to the fact that I’ll have to get on the ground and saw… I don’t see that happening. But I’m really excited to go to a real tree farm and choose the perfect tree. (by the way…did you know we sell Christmas trees now? Go pick one out from the comfort of your home! No sawing necessary)

While daydreaming about this tree, it occurred to me. What might crawl out of my perfect tree? I mean, we are essentially going to a little forest and taking a tree away. There’s gotta be bugs in there.

Oh, there are bugs in there.

There are probably a couple bugs in everyone’s live Christmas tree, but most of the time they’ll just stay on their branches and mind their own business. However, a few types of insects overwinter on these trees, and once they’re inside in warm environment they get tricked into thinking it is spring and they’ll emerge. Most people say to just leave them be, since they’ll probably die in your home. Still, I don’t want any bugs in my house, and there are definitely some steps to take to avoid waking up to a tree-full of insects.

Although this subject has been covered on this blog a few years ago before I worked at Do My Own Pest Control, I think it is definitely worth revisiting. Let’s quickly look at what bugs might show up on your tree and what you can do about it.

Types Of Christmas Tree Pests

Christmas trees offer a protected place for many insects to wait out the cold and snowy winter, and most will stay on the tree rather than venture out into your home. Here is a brief list of what you might find on your tree:

  • Adelgids: very small insects that secrete a cottony wax substance that looks like flocking on the tree. These insects will likely go completely unnoticed by you and will not venture from the tree.
  • Aphids: a larger aphid species, the cinara aphid, is often found on Christmas trees, and are sometimes confused with ticks or spiders. Other aphids may also appear on your tree, and most are host specific, meaning that specific aphids show up on specific types of evergreen trees.
  • Bark beetles: these are small, dark beetles that are often near the center of the tree. They bore into the tree and can produce sawdust. These will also not leave the tree.
  • Mites, scale insects: very small insects that will likely go unnoticed and don’t cause any damage or leave the tree. Scale insects often look like very small red specks that move very slowly.
  • Praying mantids: Including the large spectacular praying mantis, these insects often lay egg masses on evergreen trees. The egg masses are about walnut sized and a tan color, sometimes mistaken for a small pinecone. These egg masses can hatch once indoors, and your tree will be covered in baby mantids. This actually does happen! People often think laws protect praying mantis insects, but they’re not protected insects. You can kill these bugs without worry.
  • Spiders: We’re all familiar with spiders. They’re rarely harmful, but always unwelcome inside.

Keep The Bugs Outside: How To Prevent and Control Christmas Tree Pests

Prevention, as always, is the best way to keep insects out of your home. Most tree lots will have a mechanical shaker that will loosen debris (including needles, bird nests, and other unwelcome items) and bugs. Inspect your tree carefully after you choose it, looking for egg masses and any other signs of insects. If you do find some egg masses, that’s okay; you can clip the affected twigs or branches off. If there seems to be a lot of insect activity on your chosen tree, it’s not a bad idea to keep looking!

As far as products go, an insecticidal soap, like Bonide Insecticidal Soap, would work great on aphids, adelgids, mites, and scale insects. Don’t treat your tree with anything unless you’ve noticed a large population of insects, and never treat your tree with anything that is flammable!

And keep in mind that not every tree will have bugs, and it is pretty rare to have a totally infested tree. A lot of insects will die due to the lack of food and less-than-ideal conditions of your home. You can take back a badly infested tree to where you bought it to see if they’ll let you exchange. Whatever you do, don’t let the insects ruin your holiday spirit!

You’ve Got Mice. (Yeah – you do)

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but there are probably mice in your home. Don’t worry, though, we’re all in the same boat with this one. Most homes, especially older ones, have enough cracks and gaps that are big enough for mice to get in and make themselves cozy. Sometimes, you’ll never even know they’re there. Other times, populations grow and mice start to appear in your day-to-day routine. Cold weather invites mice, like house mice, white-footed mice, and deer mice, into your home for a warm environment and access to food. Mice are not something you want to leave alone in your home; they won’t go away if you ignore them. Don’t panic! We’re here to help.

Mouse Facts You Need To Know

You might think of mice as fairly harmless creatures that just nibble on cheese and leave their droppings around, but they’re mostly just scurrying around. While these ideas aren’t totally off base, mice are craftier and more dangerous than you might realize. These facts make it clear why it is so important to get rid of mice in your home.

  • Mice can run vertically up walls, jump a foot in the air, and jump up to eight feet down to escape or travel around your home. They’re not limited to the floors and horizontal surfaces near the ground.
  • Mice will eat a variety of foods but prefer grains and fatty or sweet foods.
  • They will feed throughout the day, but the main feedings occur at dusk and right before dawn.
  • One mouse can produce fifty droppings a day.
  • Mouse droppings and urine spread salmonella (food poisoning), among other diseases, and since they can go almost anywhere in your home, they can contaminate anything from your dishes and silverware to your food.
  • Dead mice can also harbor disease, and if your infestation is large, the droppings and dead mice can build up and create a health hazard.
  • Mice are prolific breeders, with females continually reproducing year round, so your mouse problem can quickly get out of control.
  • Mice can enter your home through holes or gaps as small as the size of a pencil eraser, and often get in through foundations, crawl spaces, between siding, concrete block, and roofing materials.

Mouse Control

Our mouse control page has everything you need to know when dealing with a mouse infestation. Classic snap traps like this Victor mouse trap are generally effective and inexpensive, and can be baited with things you have around your home like dry oatmeal or peanut butter, but with the traps on the market today, you’ll likely be successful with whatever trap system you choose. We also have a wide selection of humane mouse traps for those who do not want to kill the mice, but need to remove them.

Once your mouse problem is under control, you need to do repairs and take steps to ensure your home is mouse proof, or exclusion and sanitation.

  • Do a thorough inspection of the exterior of your home. Try to do this twice a year, and repair any cracks, gaps, holes, and damage you see that could let in mice, rats, and other pests (including insects).
  • Keep food, especially grain products, in mouse proof containers. Metal containers are preferable, but glass or hard, durable plastic can work as well. Cardboard boxes or plastic bags of food are very easy for mice to chew through and contaminate.
  • Both of these steps will not only greatly reduce your risk of a mouse infestation, but other infestations as well, like ants and cockroaches.

No Spiders Allowed: Indoor Spider Control

My friend recently sent me a photo of a huge spider in her bathroom. It was at least as big as a quarter and she, to put it lightly, was freaking out. She had to leave for work, so she duct taped a cup over the spider and left, planning on leaving it there until some brave soul came over to remove it.

This might seem irrational to some of you. Even me, for that matter. I don’t hate spiders, but I also have a husband who has no qualms with smashing bugs with a quick smack of a rolled up magazine, and a couple of cats who tend to take care of any stray creepy crawlies in our house.

And I’m sure you’ve all heard, time and time again, that spiders are good to have around. They help to control other pests and we shouldn’t kill them on sight. But I’ve definitely never heard of anyone opening their home to spiders.

It’s that time of year that spiders seem to be everywhere, moving indoors to look for more food and a warmer environment. Controlling spiders inside is easy. With spiders, seeing one doesn’t mean there is hundreds more lurking in the shadows, especially if you’re following the simple steps below.

Indoor Spider Control

As with most pest control programs, you can end up controlling multiple pests at once with the same steps. Spider control is no different. You’ll have to take some steps to clean up inside and outside, and then apply some long lasting pesticides. Staying on top of these steps will keep you spider free year round.

Non-Chemical Spider Control

  • Seal cracks and crevices and any possible openings in your home’s exterior to prevent spiders and other insects from getting inside.
  • Clean up clutter in living and non-living areas, like storage spaces. Less clutter on the ground means there are less places for spiders to take refuge.
  • Remove any live spiders, sweep up or destroy any webs, and destroy any egg sacs you come across.
  • Regular cleaning, vacuuming, and sweeping is also important to reduce insect activity and thereby reduces spider activity.
  • In the yard, make sure there isn’t any foliage coming in contact with the foundation, and clean up yard debris, weeds, etc. Make sure woodpiles are far from the exterior of your home. Rake up any leaves and keep grass short. These are all places insects and spiders like to take refuge, and can gain access to your home.
  • Glue boards, or sticky traps, can be a great, non-chemical solution for spider control. These allow you to monitor the location and population of your spiders, and can offer some control. You can place these at the threshold of rooms you know have spiders, which will keep them out of common areas. Placing these in corners, storage areas, under furniture and behind appliances can help to give you some light spider control.

Chemical Spider Control

  • Spiders are tougher to control with insecticides versus other insects, but it is possible to use long lasting residual insecticides to help control spiders in your home.
  • A long lasting insecticide dust, like Alpine Dust, can be applied in to cracks, crevices and under shelving in storage areas, which lasts a very long time and will get picked up on the spiders legs, deposited on the web, and then eaten by the spider when the spider “recycles” the used web by eating it.
  • A liquid residual insecticide is always an option as well, and can be applied in seldom-used areas (where spiders tend to spend the most time).
  • Ready-to-use sprays can be sprayed directly on spiders and on webs to destroy both. Web Out is a good option; it is natural and helps to prevent webs.
  • Our Spider Control Kit has three popular spider control products: Trapper Glue Boards, Cyper WP, and Web Out Cobweb Eliminator. These three products can be used together for a powerful spider control combination.

 Using non-chemical and chemical steps together, there’s no way you’ll have to trap unlucky spiders under a cup. Once you know how to do it, controlling spiders is simple.

Don’t Let Bed bugs Hitch A Ride, Know Where They Hide!

Bed bug paranoia is real, and after a lull for many years, these blood-sucking bugs are back. Bed bugs have been found everywhere from hotels to libraries and office buildings, but don’t panic! Understanding how Bed bugs spread not only prevents outbreaks, but also helps to keep you Bed bug free. Awareness of Bed bugs is the first line of defense.

Bed bug Movement: How Bed bugs Spread

Bed bugs are parasitic pests that rely on hosts to provide blood meals. There is no secret to how they travel; they do it the old-fashioned way and hitchhike. They do not fly, cannot move very quickly, and don’t usually crawl long distances. They find your clothing, backpack, or luggage and grab on tight, waiting for you to bring them back to the feeding ground: your bedroom.

Bed bug Hot Spots: Where You’ll Find A Bed bug

Bed bugs establish populations in areas that humans rest, which is most likely going to be the bedroom, but can also be a couch or other areas people tend to relax and stay put for long periods of time. For this reason, Bed bugs have been spotted in:

  • Health care facilities, nursing homes, etc.
  • College dorms
  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Movie theatres
  • Laundromats
  • Furniture rental stores
  • Office buildings
  • Day care facilities

These places harbor those stray hitchhikers, who then find places to hide during the day or when hosts (people) aren’t near, where they can then be picked up by new hosts and brought back home. Bed bugs do not usually establish large colonies in these places, but this is when they could find a new home with you.

Used furniture is a major way people accidentally introduce Bed bugs into their home. Be very cautious when purchasing or accepting used furniture and inspect it thoroughly before bringing it into your home. Check in all seams, joints, folds, etc. for live bedbugs.

Hotels and motels are notorious for Bed bug problems and another big way people bring bedbugs back from vacation. Even the nicest hotels could be susceptible to a Bed bug outbreak. Hotels and motels are just like the bedrooms in your home, since the host rotation is consistent and Bed bugs can establish a good size population.

Protecting Yourself and Others: Being Proactive

Image courtesy of nyc.gov

It may seem like there is a constant threat of Bed bugs all around you, but this is not the case. You can contact your city to see whether there are any known outbreaks in your area. If there are, take the time to examine susceptible places, like your office, day care, etc., to ensure they are bedbug free.

  • When staying in a hotel, make sure to do a sweep of the room to make sure there are no Bed bugs present. Reading our article, How To Avoid Hotel Bed Bugs, can give you tips on how to prevent bedbugs from hitching a ride back to your home. You can also bring some things along with you to help ease your mind when traveling with some bed bug travel kits and products, like RestAssure Bed Bug Spray or bed bug proof luggage liners.
  • Do your research when choosing a new daycare or healthcare facility to ensure this establishment has had no recent complaints of Bed bugs.
  • If you suspect you were in an area where Bed bugs were present, create a “clean zone” to inspect clothing and items, preferably an area free of carpet and fabrics, like a garage or tile/wood entryway.
  • Anything infested that must be thrown away should be clearly labeled that it is infested with Bed bugs, and preferably sealed to prevent escape of Bed bugs.
  • If you suspect you have Bed bugs or just want to make sure you don’t, our Bed Bug Inspection Guide will help you check every susceptible area for bugs.
  • At home, it is never a bad idea to start control efforts before you have a Bed bug problem. Bed bug mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements seal your items and prevent bedbugs from hiding in the folds of the fabric. This gives Bed bugs less places to hide and makes them easier to spot if they do make their way to your mattress.
  • For more information on Bed bugs, doing your own Bed bug control, and bed bug products and recommendations, head over to our bed bug control page. Never hesitate to contact one of our pest control experts for more help.

How to Keep Overwintering Cluster Flies Out

As you might have noticed, there are several pests that like to cozy up with us in the cooler months. Overwintering pests are insects that like warmer, protected areas to hibernate until spring. Cluster flies could be the most annoying of the bunch, gathering on sunny sides of houses and working their way into your home.

Image Courtesy of Michigan State University

The good news, though, is that these flies are not going to cause any damage, transmit any diseases, or reproduce while they are inside your home, but they can leave stains on exterior and interior walls. The worst they do, like their other overwintering counterparts, is buzz around noisily and congregate (cluster) in groups once they’ve found their hibernation spot. These flies are not attracted to garbage or food, and all they want from you is a place to stay. With that said, no one wants unwanted guests to stay for the winter!

Cluster Fly Control: Prevention First!

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, because often my advice for most pests is preventative measures. Preventing pest outbreaks before they start saves you so much time and money in their control. Cluster flies are no different, since preventing these flies from entering into the gaps and cracks in the exterior of your home will save you the headache of not only knowing there are tons of flies inside your walls or attic, but also the hassle of trying to get rid of them.

  • Block cluster flies from getting indoors by sealing every possible crack, crevice, gap, hole, etc. Use a high quality caulk or very fine mesh to seal around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, chimneys, and any other possible area.
  • Since it is very difficult to seal the exterior of your home completely, using a residual pesticide can give relief from exterior cluster flies and also kill any flies that are tempted by your home. Use a product with a synthetic pyrethroid, which will last for several days. Check out our Overwintering Kit for everything you’ll need.

 Cluster Fly Control: Interior Control

If these flies make their way through your exterior defenses, they’ll then be in your wall voids, attic, or living space.

  • When cluster flies enter your living space, first determine where they’re coming in, and seal those openings. The flies will probably be fairly sluggish, and a vacuum cleaner or a fly swatter will be able to get the job done.
  • Cluster flies often end up in false ceilings and attics. Fly lights are perfect for these situations, and living spaces as well, and can attract cluster flies and trap them, so you can empty the container and continue to catch the flies throughout the overwintering season.
  • Since cluster flies usually end up in areas of homes and buildings that are very difficult to access, it is difficult to treat these flies with a pesticide.

For more detailed information on controlling cluster flies, see out article: How To Get Rid Of Cluster Flies.

 

Clothes Moths: Don’t Let Your Clothes Become A Buffet

Mothballs. Just the word conjures up images of your grandma’s closet and that funky smell her coat always had. But grandma wasn’t putting mothballs in her attic or closet for no reason; she was trying to ward off those nasty little clothes moth larvae that would make quick work of her nicest wool coat if she didn’t take precautions.

Photo courtesy of Maine.gov

Clothes moths aren’t just something your grandma needs to worry about. When we’re in-between seasons and switching out our wardrobes, pulling out a beloved blanket or sweater and finding it riddled with holes is devastating. Clothes moths larvae feed on more than just wool. They feed on organic animal materials like furs, feathers, silks, and wool, and can even feed on accumulated pet hair, spices, and tea.

Luckily, we don’t have to fill our drawers and closets with mothballs anymore. These moths can be kept in check with a few easy to use products, as well some common-sense cleaning steps for clothes moth control.

Clothes Moths: Know Your Enemy
There are two common types of clothes moths: webbing clothes moths and casemaking moths. They look very similar, but there are differences in the structures they make and their food preferences.

photo courtesy of Maine.gov

  • Webbing clothes moths construct a blanket of silk, feces and the material they’re eating, and feed on their chosen material under the webbing.
  • Casemaking moths create a tube, or case, made of silk and material, that they carry around with them and live in. Often the cases are the same color as whatever material they are feeding on, so they can be tough to see on the material.
  • Webbing clothes moths tend to feed on: hair, wool including clothing, blankets, upholstery and tapestries, fur including clothing and taxidermy, and wool blends and even synthetic or cotton materials if they have been soiled with food, sweat, and body oils.
  • Casemaking clothes moths feed on: felts, taxidermy, woolen clothing, carpets, tapestries, feathers, furs, dried herbs, tobacco, tea, hemp, seeds, and seed products, etc.
  • Adult moths of both of these species do not cause any damage. They (like the larvae) prefer darkness, and are very poor fliers. They emerge from their pupae, lay eggs, and die shortly afterward.
  • They don’t just feed on objects; pet hair and human hair that accumulates in air vents or behind baseboards are also places that these larvae can find abundant food and a dark habitat.

Clothes Moth Control
A combination of chemical and non-chemical moth control will keep your clothing and other items damage free. Since mothballs don’t actually control these moths as well as newer professional grade products do, you won’t be left with smelly sweaters from old-fashioned mothballs. Following the steps below should make it very simple to prevent, control, and eradicate clothes moths.

Non-Chemical Control

  • When storing clothing or items made of susceptible materials, make sure to get them dry-cleaned or cleaned properly before storing, since soiled items are even more vulnerable to these moth larvae.
  • Store items in clean, airtight containers to prevent eggs from being deposited on clothing, where the larvae will then feed.
  • Periodically cleaning these storage areas will also prevent an infestation, and periodically airing out stored items in the sun can also help, since you can then inspect the stored clothing and remove eggs or larvae present on the material.
  • Vacuuming is a powerful tool in not only cleaning up eggs, larvae, or moths, it will also prevent buildup of hair and dust that the larvae feed on.

Chemical Control

  • Pheromone traps, sticky traps that have a chemical that lures in female moths, are efficient at trapping females. This could be helpful for monitoring populations, but only traps the adults, which don’t cause damage. You can try ProPest Clothes Moth Trap or GreenWay Clothes Moth Traps, but they are only made to catch webbing clothes moths NOT casemaking, since webbing clothes moths tend to be more prevalent.
  • Nuvan ProStrips can be extremely helpful in small spaces like a closet or storage area. The insecticide strip works for six months, releasing the chemical and affecting a wide range of pests, including clothes moths.
  • A residual insecticide spray, like Temprid Ready Spray, that can be used indoors, is a good choice, too. Apply to surfaces, but not clothing.

Want more information about getting rid of clothes moths? See our article: How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths