Types of Occasional Invaders: Part 1
November 6, 2016
Occasional invaders refers to insects that are only problematic for South Florida homeowners during certain times of the year. Specifically, they are known to invade homes when weather conditions become inhospitable due to seasonal changes. While most occasional invaders are harmless, homeowners complain that they can become a particularly aggravating nuisance. There are a lot of different pests that are considered occasional invaders, so I narrowed it down to four specific ones that are common fall pests in South Florida: boxelder bugs, ladybugs, crickets, and cluster flies.
Appearance: Boxelder bugs are large flying bugs that are black in color with red stripes stretching vertically across their bodies and wings.
Habitat and Diet: Boxelders live and reproduce within boxelder trees and silver maple trees during the spring and summer. They also feed on the leaves, flowers and seedpods of these without causing any damage to the plant.
Behavior: When temperatures start to drop, boxelders will seek out warm, moist places where they can settle in to survive the winter in a process called overwintering. They become problematic to homeowners in the fall when they begin to actively search for safe places to overwinter because they are attracted to the warmth of people’s homes.
Issues: They are primarily nuisance pests. While they do not bite or spread diseases, they can stain the surfaces in your home with their feces.
Unique Features: Boxelders are hypersensitive to temperature changes and are able to detect differences of as little as one degree.
Appearance: Ladybugs are round in shape and they have a red, orange or yellow coloring with a black spotted pattern.
Habitat and Diet: Ladybugs are found in the gardens where there are plentiful supplies of water, pollen and pest insects. Ladybugs are one of the most beneficial garden insects because they feed on destructive sap-sucking insects like aphids, mites, and scale.
Behavior: They are known to swarm during autumn, which is when their abundant population may spread into our homes and businesses.
Issues: Most ladybugs are harmless rather they are actually very beneficial for the environment. The issue comes up in the fall when ladybugs seek shelter to overwinter and end up settling in your home. When a ladybug is disturbed while overwintering, they are known to secrete a yellowish fluid that has a fowl odor.
Unique Features: In many cultures, including our own, ladybugs have become a common symbol of luck and are viewed as a good luck charm.
Appearance: House crickets are light brown in color and can be identified by dark stripes across their heads.
Habitat and Diet: In the warmer months, crickets are usually found outside, and one of their favorite hang out spots is by the dumpsters. They are also attracted to electric lights, so they are often seen in large numbers resting on light poles. Crickets are meant to live outdoors; they can barely survive, let alone reproduce, when living indoors. Crickets only venture indoors to seek shelter from poor weather conditions. When the temperatures drop, they can be found inside your home, and they will most likely be attracted to the warmth of your kitchen and are sometimes found settled in by a furnace or water heater. Crickets are omnivores, so when they are outside they will eat plants as well as other insects. Unfortunately, when they are inside, they are known to eat fabrics and may damage your clothing.
Behavior: House crickets attract females by rubbing their front wings together to make loud chirping noises. Homeowners will here the chirping at night because house crickets are nocturnal.
Issues: The biggest issue with crickets is that homeowners become incredibly frustrated by the cricket’s constant chirping from hidden locations. Of course they fall silent whenever you are close to finding them.
Unique Features: Like ladybugs, crickets are also known as a symbol of luck. This belief came from a traditional Chinese custom to keep crickets in their homes. The Chinese used the chirping crickets for home security because whenever they fell silent, the homeowner knew that someone was approaching. Their silence was a warning of sorts.
Appearance: Cluster flies are large and slow, and they have a silver-y black checker-patterned coloration.
Habitat and Diet: Cluster flies, true to their name, are often seen clustering by windows so that they can be in the warm sunlight. They are attracted to warmth, so once fall comes around they will fly to the sunniest side of your home. Cluster flies feed on earthworms.
Behavior: Cluster flies are more problematic for homeowners in the late fall and early winter because that is when they have the greatest numbers in population as well as when they start looking for somewhere warm to overwinter. During the colder seasons that they spend overwintering in the walls of your home, they may crawl out every once and awhile because they become more active on warm days.
Issues: Cluster flies do not pose any health risks and they will not damage your home. They are simply nuisance pests with their clustering behavior and buzzing sound that is very irritating for homeowners.
Unique Features: Cluster flies are commonly mistaken for the common housefly, but cluster flies are larger in size and slower in speed. In fact, they are easier to swat because their movements are much more sluggish than that of houseflies.
If you have any questions about occasional invaders in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton or elsewhere in South Florida, or if you are interested in our pest control services that keep these pests and other insects and rodents out, please contact Nozzle Nolen at (888) 685-0376.
Lupo Pest Control Expert, Lisa Jo. "Home-Invading Bugs, Beetles, and Flies." About.com Home. About, Inc., 19 Jan. 2015. Web. <http://pestcontrol.about.com/od/diyoccasionalpestcontrol/a/Insect-Pests-Occasional-Invaders.htm>.
"Occasional Invaders." Ehrlich. Ehrlich Pest Control, 2016. Web. <http://www.jcehrlich.com/other-wildlife/occasional-invaders/>.
"Occasional Invaders Q&A." PestWorld.org. National Pest Management Association, 2016. Web. <http://www.pestworld.org/news-hub/pest-articles/occasional-invaders-qa/>.
"Cluster Fly Facts & Control: How to Get Rid of Cluster Flies." Orkin. Orkin, LLC, 2016. Web. <http://www.orkin.com/flies/cluster-flies/>.
Department of Entomology. "Cluster Flies." Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Penn State University, 2016. Web. <http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/cluster-flies>.
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