In the warmer months, Livingston County residents deal with mosquitos and ants — some must also endure bees, wasps and termites. With winter holding on for the present, there's an entirely different set of bugs to be on the lookout for.
Buck Hempel, the owner of Wingman Pest Control in South Lyon, said while they do deal with bugs in the winter, they also deal with wildlife in homes like squirrels, mice, raccoons and bats. However, keeping critters out of your home in the winter is best done through preventative measures in the fall. Fiberglass Insect Screen Mesh
So, what are the bugs to watch out for in winter? And how do you get rid of them once they're inside? Read on for the five most common winter bugs in Livingston County, and how to keep them out of your home.
Gary Parsons is the director of the MSU Bug House, part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where you can learn about all sorts of insects and arachnids — and interact with live specimens.
According to Parsons, the five most common bugs found in Michigan homes during the colder months are:
Each of these bugs have adult stages in the winter, which makes them mobile and motivated to get out of or avoid cold and rain and snow.
Most are seeking a dry spot to enter a hibernation state, somewhere they know they'll be protected. Some may go into the bark of trees, or inside a fallen log. Stink bugs especially are known to hibernate in rock, such as a crevasse of a cliff.
Ladybugs and stink bugs are distasteful, meaning pets may get sick from eating too many. For the most part, though, these are all harmless, Parsons said.
These bugs view houses as just another place to spend the winter because they can sense the warmth. Once inside, they mostly just hibernate in the house.
Obvious entry points for bugs are where there's an electrical, water or air-conditioning line entering the house, "Lansing Bug Man" Bob Yoakam said. Caulking and sealing holes around these openings is a good first step toward a bug-free home, but it's not as certain as using a pesticide, he said.
When it comes to choosing a caulk, Hempel said it's best to use a higher-end caulk.
"It's going to make a huge difference," he said.
It helps to put some sort of metal behind the caulk so it doesn't fall out. He recommends stainless steel mesh because it doesn't rust.
Other common places for bugs to sneak in is through warped siding, or windows and doors that aren't well-insulated. Parsons said he's had stink bugs get into his house through vent pipes in the roof. He recommends sealing up all cracks where bugs could get in.
Parsons said bugs tend to prefer south- or west-facing sides of the house, because those areas tend to get more sun in the winter. He also uses a mesh screen over his attic vents and other openings to keep bugs out of his home.
"The first thing you should do is try to prevent them from getting in the house," he said.
Once bugs are inside, they emit an attractive pheromone to help other bugs find the safe, warm area and then it becomes a matter of getting them out.
"We do not advocate using pesticides," Parsons said. "It really has little effect on these things anyway."
He said there are more effective ways to deal with bugs indoors that don't leave any residue.
According to Parsons, the best way to address the bugs who have made it inside your house already is to vacuum them up or capture them in some sort of container to take outside. These bugs die in the cold, so there's no need to worry about them coming back inside.
Hempel echoed that strategy. In the winter, he doesn't use liquids for insect control because it's too cold.
"It may sound silly, but a simple vacuum works fantastic for taking care of insects on the interior," he said.
Parsons warns residents to not squish bugs — stink bugs and lady bugs especially can leave a stain, not to mention possible odors.
Yoakam the "Lansing Bug Man" approaches getting bugs out a bit differently.
"Without a pesticide keeping a bug out of a house, I don't know another way to be honest," he said.
Folding Window Screen Sophia Lada is a reporter for the Livingston Daily. Contact her at email@example.com or 517-377-1065. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_lada.