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Insect Pests: Occasional Invaders

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Occasional Invaders are those that enter homes periodically, but do not breed or survive well in a clean home environment. Some common occasional invaders - and links to more information and control - include:

  1. Asian Longhorned Beetles. Originally introduced to the U.S. from Asia, the finding of the beetles in areas of New York City in 1996 caused the Secretary of Agriculture to declare an "extraordinary emergency" to combat the infestation with regulatory and control actions. Since then, the U.S. has seen a gradual spread of the beetles, first to areas of the New England states, then into the Midwest, with most recent discoveries of the destructive insect occurring in 2011 in Ohio

  2. Boxelder Bugs. Boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest as they do not bite, sting, infest food, or cause property damage. Additionally, boxelder bugs do not breed indoor. However, excessive numbers can be very intrusive and annoying, and when populations are large, their excrement can stain surfaces such as walls, furniture, and drapes.

  3. Cluster Flies. Homeowners generally expect to have to swat a fly or two in the house during the summer months. With family members constantly filing in and out; doors being propped while groceries are carried in; windows opened to screens that need mending, it is generally more likely that a fly will get in than that all will be kept out. But what is an expected annoyance in the summer can be exasperating in the winter when doors and windows are sealed tight, and one wouldn't think that any flies are existing in the cold outdoors to come inside. So where are they coming from?

  4. Crickets. Despite many traditional beliefs that crickets are lucky and it is bad luck to harm or kill them, the incessant chirping of a cricket in one's home can quickly become quite annoying, especially when it only goes quiet when the search for it begins. In fact, that was one of the very reasons that the Chinese kept crickets in their homes - because the insects stopped chirping at a person's approach, its silence gave an alert that someone was coming.

  5. Firewood Insects. A wood-burning stove or fireplace can bring a great deal of warmth, comfort and pleasing aesthetics into a home. However the firewood that is brought into the home for that fire can also bring with it a number of household pests. Control of firewood pests is primarily a matter of controlling the firewood itself through 10 Top Tips

  6. Millipedes and Centipedes. Centipedes and millipedes are arthropods, not insects, because insects have only six legs - whereas, as their names imply, centipedes and millipedes have many more. Although they can be a nuisance and displeasing if found in the home, they are considered to be occasional invaders because they generally wander into homes and buildings accidentally rather than seeking a place to live or breed.

  7. Pillbugs and Sowbugs. Pillbugs and sowbugs are two tiny pests considered to be occasional invaders because they will enter homes and buildings, but survive better outdoors - unless the find a wet or very damp area in which to live. In fact, these two common pests are not insects or arthropods. They are crustaceans and are, in fact, the only crustaceans that have adapted to living completely on land rather than water. Because of this, pillbugs and sowbugs have more characteristics and appearance similar to crayfish or lobsters than to insects.

  8. Scorpions. Scorpions are nocturnal arachnids, closely related to spiders, mites and ticks. Most scorpions are found in the southwest states, however there are species that make their homes elsewhere, such as the southern unstriped scorpion (or southern devil scorpion), which is found primarily in western North Carolina

  9. Squash Bugs. The squash bug is primarily a garden pest, but because it can overwinter in the walls of buildings, it can become a nuisance when it moves into the home seeking warmth and shelter as the weather turns cold. Once inside, the bugs can stay active throughout the winter.

  10. Stink Bug. Named for its smelly-foot-like odor when crushed, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is relatively new to the U.S. Long a crop pest of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, the bug is believed to have been brought into the eastern U.S. in the later 1990s. Although stink bugs are becoming more than just a nuisance pest in agricultural areas of the eastern U.S., they are not known to breed indoors, cause interior damage, or harm humans. However, they can become quite alarming when they infest homes or other buildings, entering through cracks in search of shelter.

  11. Thrips. Thrips are a common plant pest that are sometimes described as worms with legs or fringe-winged insects. There are 264 species in North America that feed on plants. Some species, however, are beneficial insects as they feed only on mites and other insects.

  12. Keep Pests Out. While each is different and has some specific means of control or prevention, there are also some general tips that can be followed to help keep pests out. Instead of waiting to go on the defense against an insect, rodent or bird that has entered your home, take the offense by implementing 10 steps to keeping pests out.

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