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When insects make themselves at home

Boxelder bug and asian lady beetles
Credit: Flickr
Boxelder bug and asian lady beetles
When insects make themselves at home

Love it or loathe it, summer’s coming to an end. Soon the trees will be bursting into color, and some birds will be taking off for the south. Adapting to this change of season is no different for insects. Some of them will head off in the same direction as our snowbirds, but the great majority will stay right here. As temperatures progressively drop, they’ll be looking for a refuge, then slowing down their metabolisms until they go into diapause. Unfortunately for us, certain species will be settling down in our homes to get through this period.

The Asian lady beetle: a regular visitor, like it or not 

Introduced in Québec in the early 1990s, the Asian lady beetle adapted to the cold of Québec winters by taking advantage of the protection provided by certain shelters, including our homes. The bettle is highly effective as a control agent in crops, but its presence under our roofs can become extremely intrusive.

The boxelder bug

The boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) has been present in Québec for a number of years. Unlike the Asian lady beetle, the adults of this species can survive the winter outside, hidden under the bark of trees or in a dry protected spot. Even so, in the fall the heated facades of houses seem to hold an attraction for them, and for a few years aggregations have been observed around homes. These consist of both the immature stages, bright red and wingless, and blackish adults with their orangey-red-tipped wings. 

But however much these bugs succeed in taking up residence in our homes, they won’t breed there, and won’t do any damage either.

The solution? Prevention!

How do we keep these insects from getting in? Prevention is still the best way of avoiding the sort of annoyance they cause. Start by removing any debris from around the house, which can attract these insects by offering them potential places for refuge. Then make sure that window screens are tight, and don’t remove them until November. Keep your doors and windows closed on those lovely autumn days. And it’s also worth sealing off cracks and possible entries on external facades, especially those facing south and west.

If the insects invite themselves inside, catch them with a small vacuum cleaner whose reservoir is easy to empty.

But remember, again, that although insects manage to introduce themselves into our households, they present no danger for homes or humans. Still, they’ll be here before winter, so better to be prepared! Feel free to call on the entomological information service for further info.

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