Fall’s here which means a whole list of new bugs are trying to move inside your home as they attempt to escape the cold. Here are the pests you’re most likely to encounter this season and essential tips for preventing them.
The chirp of crickets can be a seasonal pleasure, but when your home’s haunted with that noise all night long, it’s certainly an unwelcome intrusion. A home full of dozens of dead and decaying crickets is really gross, too. Did we mention they also eat holes in clothing, bedding, furniture, rugs, and other fabrics?
We know they can be a bit scary, but nearly all spiders are harmless and actually beneficial, helping keep indoor insect populations to a minimum. But as the weather cools, spiders’ mating season begins which tends to bring them out of hiding and in larger numbers than usual. As helpful as they can be, no one wants a home full of spiders and webs for the holidays.
As fall kicks in, centipedes are more likely to move indoors, as they search for food, moisture, and shelter from the coming cold. There’s just something about their numerous legs and the way they scuttle about that makes centipedes extra creepy. But thankfully, just like spiders, centipedes are normally allies, helping rid our homes of other creepy crawlies, spiders included. However, it is important to mention that some, especially larger individuals, can pack a seriously painful bite, so do exercise caution around them.
If you’ve ever spotted unexplained holes in your clothing, rugs, or bedding, don’t be so quick to blame moths. There’s a good chance these silvery wingless bugs are the real culprits. In addition to closets and other storage spaces, you might notice silverfish in basements, kitchens, and bathrooms, where they congregate to grab a quick drink.
The larvae of a small brown moth, fall armyworms are one of the most destructive lawn & garden pests in the U.S., capable of stripping an entire yard of its plant life in a single night. One fall evening your lawn is beautiful and healthy, and the next morning it’s an ugly, dying patch of brown grass and dirt.
If you’ve noticed wasps or wasp nests near your home in the spring and summer, you need to be extra cautious during fall and winter. During the colder months, wasps become more active and also more aggressive as they prepare their colonies for chillier conditions. During this time, you, your family and pets are far more likely to incur painful, and in some cases dangerous, stings.
While stink bugs are especially bad in the Northern U.S., they’re slowly becoming more of an issue across the entire country. As we enter fall, these bugs emerge from their hiding places in alarmingly large numbers in search of warm places to overwinter for the season. During this time, it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of stink bugs gather on the southern sides of homes, barns, and other outbuildings. And if they happen to find a small crack or crevice to move indoors, you might just find yourself sharing a home with several dozen of these foul-smelling pests.
Similar to stink bugs, boxelder bugs are relatively harmless but also a serious nuisance—they’re infamous for producing a terrible odor, too. Also like stink bugs, they can appear in surprisingly large numbers as the weather cools, blanketing the exterior of your home. And, if you allow them entryways, they’ll gladly take residence inside as well.
Sure, these damaging, disease-carrying pests can live in our homes, garages, and outbuildings all year long, but they become particularly bad as winter nears and they’re desperate for warm shelter. In addition to the obvious sanitation problems they create, rats and mice can cause expensive household damage as they chew through walls, clothing, electrical wires, and more.
The following preventative tips will substantially reduce the number of fall bugs you find both inside and outside your home
- In addition to warmth, fall bugs move indoors in search of food and water. Keeping your home clean and free of food debris and excess moisture can substantially limit the number of bugs you see indoors during fall and winter.
- Attracting predators like birds to your lawn is an effective and natural way to curb fall bug populations. Baths and feeders will usually do the trick.
- Arguably the most effective way to keep fall pests outside where they belong is to make sure your home is properly sealed. Start by doing a slow and thorough check both inside and outside for possible entryways like cracks, crevices, holes, etc. Look closely at windows, doorways, baseboards, fixtures, outlets, foundations, basements, and attics. Then simply use spackle or caulk to patch any entry points you find. You might want to consider installing seals at the bottom of doors and garages, too.
- Limiting sources of light just outside your home can significantly reduce fall bug numbers. We strongly suggest trading traditional outdoor light bulbs for those that don’t attract bugs, such as yellow compact fluorescent lights (CFL), sodium vapor bulbs, or halogen options.
- Treat your entire yard, including shrubbery and bases of trees, with the family-safe Lawn & Garden Kit monthly until you experience several weeks of freezing conditions.
- Spray known bug hangouts and potential entry points like doorways, windowsills, baseboards, etc every other week with Cedarcide Original.
Finding unexpected damage on your clothing, curtains, carpet or furniture? You could have carpet beetles. Often confused with bed bugs, carpet beetles don’t bite, sting, or spread disease, but they can cause a lot of damage—and fast. Infamous for their voracious appetite, these fast-breeding pests will eat just about anything made of natural fibers, including you and your pets’ bedding, rugs, furniture, leather items, furs, feathers, and flooring. Here are several non-toxic tips to kill and repel carpet beetles naturally, and to protect your home from carpet beetle damage.
Sometimes black but usually patterned with white, yellow, brown or orange coloring, carpet beetles are oval in shape and very small (1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long). Apart from the beetles themselves, there are several symptoms of a carpet beetle infestation. Here’s what to look for:
- Holes and lines of damage on rugs, clothing, bedding, furniture, taxidermy, etc, is the most obvious and common sign of carpet beetles.
- Light brown pieces of shed skin (these look like small bug shells). Check for these skins underneath rugs, within blankets, inside the folds of clothing and furniture, and on flooring where dust and hair tend to collect
- Carpet beetle larvae, which are typically longer than adults and covered in hair.
- Fecal pellets, which are about the size of a grain of salt.
- Again, also look for adult carpet beetles, which are normally found on walls near sources of light and window sills.
Whether you already have carpet beetles or worried you might soon, prevention should be your top priority. Here are the best practices for preventing carpet beetles.
- Cleanliness and organization are absolutely vital—this cannot be stressed enough. Carpet beetles eat everything from textiles and poorly stored food to dust bunnies, cobwebs, birds and wasps nests.
- Vacuum your home at least once a week. For ongoing carpet beetle infestations, go with daily.
- Launder dirty clothing and bedding at least once every two weeks. Used laundry items attract carpet beetles.
- Before bringing any plants into your home, check them for carpet beetles.
- Thoroughly wash and then seal all out-of-season clothing, blankets, and fabrics in airtight containers. For infested fabrics, wash and launder them on high heat.
- Ensure all doors, windows, and other possible entry points are properly sealed. Install new screens, door seals, and use caulk as needed.
- When possible, choose synthetic fabrics over natural ones, especially for rugs, furniture, and carpeting—carpet beetles are only attracted to organic materials.
- Carpet beetles can enter our homes by hitching a ride on our pets. Apply a pet-safe bug repellent, like Cedarcide Original, to your cat or dog every few days just in case.
Now that you know how to spot and prevent carpet beetles, here’s what you need to do to get rid of them:
Glue traps are useful against carpet beetles in two ways. Firstly, they can help you identify and gauge the seriousness of a carpet beetle infestation. Secondly, they serve as a non-toxic approach to decreasing carpet beetle populations in your home.
Made with hormones designed to attract carpet beetles, these glue traps should be placed in the areas of your home where you’re seeing the most carpet beetle activity (damage and actual beetles). Check the traps every other day or so and replenish as needed. Carpet beetle glue traps can be purchased at pest control supply stores and online.
As mentioned in the prevention section above, cleanliness is arguably the most important factor in carpet beetle control. Carpet beetles can survive on a wide array of natural items—including hair, lint, dust, rugs, carpets, clothing, food residue, plant debris, dead animals and their nests, and more. Daily cleaning is necessary to remove these potential sources of food from your home.
For best results, pay special attention to areas where dust and other debris tend to accumulate in your home, such as baseboards, under tables and cabinets, and other nooks & crannies.
Apart from contributing to cleanliness, daily vacuuming can help remove carpet beetle eggs, larvae, and adults from your home. In addition to flooring, make sure to vacuum all rugs and upholstered furniture as needed. For heavily infested spaces, vacuuming twice a day might be even better. Just be sure to discard the bag in an outside trash can or thoroughly clean it after each use.
There are several ways to deal with infested items like clothing, furniture, rugs, and flooring:
- You can simply wash and dry them on warm temperatures (or dry clean).
- If rugs or clothing are heavily infested and damaged, you might want to consider throwing them away.
- You can freeze infested items in a freezer for 72 hours to kill eggs, larvae, and adult carpet beetles.
The bottom line: If you have items suspected of infestation, you need to take at least one of the above actions.
Many companies offer products or services that use harsh chemicals to help consumers get rid of their carpet beetles. While these toxic insecticides often work, they also expose your family and pets to highly dangerous poisons. The truth is, you can get the same results with safer, naturally-sourced pest control products.
After choosing a family-safe, pet-safe pest control product, you’ll want to apply it strategically. Pay special attention to areas that collect dust and lint, under furniture, around doors and windows, as well closets, and around the edges of carpeting. For larger infestations where eggs and larvae are hidden all throughout the home, fogging may be necessary. Repeat applications as needed.
A naturally occurring non-toxic pesticide, diatomaceous earth works by dehydrating insects that come into contact with it. Dust food-grade DE throughout trouble areas like window sills, rugs, carpeting, closets, along baseboards, etc. Once you get your carpet beetle issue under control, DE can be easily removed with your vacuum cleaner. Although it’s chemical-free, we suggest wearing a mask when applying because it is a powder.
Steam is deadly for carpet beetles, their eggs, and larvae. Steaming flooring, rugs, curtains, upholstered furniture, and other vulnerable spaces and items is a quick and efficient way to control carpet beetles. You can do this on your own with a personal steamer or go with a professional. Repeat weekly as needed.
Limiting their food source can greatly improve a carpet beetle infestation. To start, store and seal all out-of-season clothing, bedding, and other natural textiles (again, carpet beetles are not attracted to synthetic materials). Make sure to deep clean all items before storing them away, and also to clean all other fabrics in affected areas as outlined above.
Cleanliness is a big part of removing the carpet beetles’ food source, too. Again, carpet beetles are known to eat lint, dust, pet hair, and other dead bugs—basically all the most common ingredients of household dirt and grime. Keeping your home free of these food sources will have a big impact on your carpet beetle struggles.