April's Ag Advice by April Borders As the weather gets cooler and cooler, creepy, crawly insects are looking for ways to head into our homes. You honestly can't blame them. Wouldn't you want to come in from the cold? It's not too bad when there is one or two of these critters but no, that's not how it is. There are usually tons of them that invite themselves into your home to be unwanted house guests. Mostly I am referring to the Asian lady beetles but there are other insect pests as well. So what are you to do?
Since lady beetles in the fall may move to overwintering sites in houses, sheds and other buildings, it is important to use a good silicone or silicone-latex caulk to seal cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes and other openings.
One thing to consider: if the beetles are getting into your house, so is cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer. So fill in those cracks.
Also replace and/or repair damaged door and window screens. Install insect screening over attic and exhaust vents (20 mesh maximum) to prevent beetle entry. And use door sweeps on all doors. Since the beetles are attracted to light, they are usually found around windows and lighting fixtures.
In spite of homeowner complaints about the Asian lady beetle, they are considered very, very important for both agricultural and horticultural crops as a beneficial predator of aphids and some scale insects. With this in mind, you can remove the beetles from inside the home with a broom and dust pan and/or vacuum cleaner. Collect the beetles from indoors and deposit them outside, perhaps under a bush or in some other well covered area away from any homes.
Now I know that you are laughing after what you have just read and are thinking that I should get real. But because these insects are considered beneficial, in the long run they are better for the environment than are all the pesticides that we use. But I also know that when they move indoors they can be a major nuisance. But your number one control effort is to prevent their entry.
There are no insecticides that are officially labeled for use against the Asian lady beetle. However, according to SDSU Extension Entomologist Dr. Mike Catangui, they can be indirectly controlled when homeowners spray for other home-invading arthropods such as attic flies, boxelder bugs, millipedes, sowbugs, mosquitoes and spiders. You can spray around the infested premises and indoors as needed. There is a list of residual and quick knockdown insecticides available at the Extension Office. The publication is called "Pesticides Registered for Mosquito Control in South Dakota" and it is also available on the internet at: http://agbiopubs.sdstate.edu/ articles/exex8148.pdf.
There are some important steps to properly use insecticides within your home.
1. First consider all alternative control methods (sanitation, exclusion, screening, etc.) before using insecticides. While using insecticides, integrate their use with the appropriate non-chemical methods.
2. Read and follow all label directions.
3. Purchase materials that will be effective.
4. Apply the pesticide in an effective manner, while minimizing amounts that will be needed.
5. Take all precautions indicated in label directions.
6. Store pesticides properly to protect from children and pets.
7. Dispose of containers properly, according to the specific directions on the label.
Control strategies are the choice of the home owner. Often simple practices can be effective, once the biology and habits of the insect are understood. Many of the insects found in homes are merely casual invaders that do not reproduce nor pose a threat to humans. Sometimes insects originate from conditions that exist outside the dwelling. Often control can be accomplished by sanitation and household maintenance.
For more information on the Asian lady beetle call the Clay County Extension Office at 677-7111.