5 Bugs That Want To Winter Inside Your NYC Apartment
Find out which bugs could be in your home, and how to get rid of them.
Adam Nichols,Patch Staff
Posted Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 2:23 pm ETReply (1)
NEW YORK CITY — The cold months aren’t far away, and New York City’s insects know it. It’s the time of year that stink bugs and other critters start scrabbling their way into your home.
Brown marmorated stink bugs are probably the best known. The ones you find commonly in your sink or bathtub are likely not the only ones in your home. Once they’re inside, you likely won’t even know they’re there — unless you squash them.
There are much better ways to stop stink bugs, and the same strategies work to keep other creepy crawlies out of your home. Here are five of the most common unwelcome guests:
Asian Lady Beetles
The multicolored Asian lady beetle can be a real stinker, too. It oozes a bad-smelling orange liquid from its leg joints.
Generally considered beneficial, they feed on plant pests — especially aphids. But they can affect the quality of your life when large numbers of them invade buildings, often emitting a noxious odor and the orange staining fluid before dying.
What to do: Stop them before they get in your house. Beetles come in a variety of colors — from pale tan to a brilliant red-orange — and can have no spots, many spots, or large or small spots. To correctly identify Asian lady beetles, look for black-and-white markings directly behind the head.
In the fall, large swarms of these beetles collect on the sunlit side of buildings before moving into their hibernation sites. To control them, apply an insecticide approved for outdoor use. You should also caulk places where the beetles can get inside — cracks and other spaces where the beetles can find easy passage, but also places where a pipe, conduit telephone or cable TV wire goes through the siding. Check windows and repair them if necessary.
Despite your best efforts, a few may sneak in. Don’t use insecticides, even those approved for indoor use. Instead, suck them up using a hand-held or other vacuum with a bag that can be emptied.
Western Conifer Seed Bugs
If you made your home a fortress against Asian lady beetles, you should be good to go in your battle against western conifer seed bugs.
You’re likely to find these bugs in areas with evergreen trees old enough to produce cones, because they like to feed on the gooey goodness inside of the conifer seeds. They closely resemble stink bugs but have wider hind legs.
Western conifer seed bugs also have the potential to bite humans with their piercing, sucking mouthparts.
What to do: Deal with it? Once they’re inside walls, there’s not much you can do. It’s likely you’ll continue to see them throughout the winter. Insecticides approved for indoor use can be expensive, and it’s nearly impossible to treat every surface. These bugs are lethargic, so you should be able to vacuum them up.
In some parts of the country, boxelder bugs are known as Democrat bugs. They’re dark gray or black, and their red-edged wings form a V-shape in the middle of their backs. They are found wherever boxelder trees are nearby; and in the fall they look for dry, protected sites, including attics and wall cavities, to spend the winter.
They’re harmless. They don’t chew on you, your food or your clothes. They don’t lay eggs. Like the western conifer seed bugs, they just hang out in your home until it’s warm enough to venture outside again.
What to do: Your best weapon of defense is a caulking gun here, too. Once they’re in, even aggressive and costly insecticide applications may not be effective because it is nearly impossible to treat every hidden area that may be harboring insects.
Sealing cracks around electrical outlet boxes, switches and light fixtures, and around window and baseboard molding on the inside walls will help keep the bugs trapped within the walls. In older homes with double-hung windows equipped with pulleys, insects commonly enter living areas through the pulley opening. Masking tape applied over the opening will keep insects from entering through this route. Vacuuming up the sluggish, slow-moving bugs works, too.
Cluster flies look a lot like the common house fly but have a patch of yellow hairs under their wings. They get in your house by squeezing through cracks around windows and doors, loosely hung siding, soffit vents, louvers and other entry points — and they live up to their name and come into your home in clusters.
If they’re in your home, they’re likely to remain active throughout the winter months. They’re harmless enough. They don’t bite. They don’t transmit disease. They don’t feed or lay eggs during this time.
What to do: Get a flyswatter. Indoor aerosol insecticides are effective, too. Cluster flies are slow movers, so the vacuum cleaner is an effective weapon. Winterization maintenance actions like those advised for other fall invaders can help keep them out.
Sowbugs, Millipedes And Centipedes
They’re not actually insects but arthropods related to insects, and they’re generally beneficial when found outdoors. So don’t kill them. They’re innocuous inside, too, and aren’t harmful to food, clothing, furniture or other items.
Their preferred habitats are heavily mulched flower beds; moist, decaying leaf litter; and other organic material found around building foundations. In unusually wet conditions, coming into your house is merely self-preservation so they won’t drown.
Millipedes, which can have as many as 400 very short legs and centipedes, which have 15 pairs of long, jointed legs, come into your home to escape excessive moisture, but the sowbug’s breathing apparatus and body structure require a moist atmosphere and decaying organic matter to feed on, so they’re not likely to survive in your home.
What to do: Give them a break. They’re not going to live long in your house anyway. Caulk or seal cracks and openings in exterior foundation walls, around doors and ground-level windows by late summer; rake leaves away from the foundation; and trim and thin plantings around the foundation to make the area less attractive. If they do make it inside in large numbers and seem unstoppable, turn on your dehumidifier, sweep them or suck them up in a vacuum cleaner, or use sticky traps.