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Bugs Bugs Bugs

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

March 10, 2008

Bugs Bugs Bugs
Over the next month or so, depending on when spring arrives, we will be seeing bugs in our home. Already people are bringing insects into the office wondering where they are coming from. I think the most common "bug" we will see this spring is boxelder bugs. They hibernated in large numbers last fall and will come alive when the outdoor temperatures get into the 50's during the day time. They have been over wintering in our homes, having crawled under the siding last fall. I know some individuals who have had them all winter finding a half a dozen a day. I wonder how many they will have once it warms up outside and the bugs start moving out. Fortunately, most will make the right turn and return to the open environment. They are hungry after their long rest and are anxious to find food.

I don't expect many Asian Lady Beetles this spring because they did not build up to large numbers last summer. They too will be moving outdoors as soon as the temperature starts rising.

One pest that is showing up and was a major problem in my home last spring was the Indian Meal Moth. This insect has been around our homes for hundred of years. Our grandmothers had large pantries and stored large quantities of flour for the daily bread making. The Indian Meal Moth is a grain insect that eats out the starch in grain. Of course we still have a lot of grain products in our homes, but with today's packaging they are not able to infest our food products easily.

However, many of us still have large quantities of grain in our home or garage. Many dry dog and cat foods have large quantities of grain. Another product is bird seeds stored in our garage. I found that I had a bag of sunflower seeds infested with the meal worms last spring. Instead of throwing it out I kept it and soon my garage was full of flying moths. It didn't take long to get rid of it then.

An easy way to check for the Indian Meal Moth is look in the bag for webbing on top of the grain. Also if you scoop up some of the seed or dog food you will see little cream colored worm wiggling around. After the larva feed for a period of time they will change into the adult moth. The moth is easy to identify because it has a light tan band across its dark brown wings.

In the case of dog food and bird seed the best is to toss it out and buy some new food or seed. Of course they still can be found in some open flour or cereal boxes inside the home. Most of us will toss the infected products, but you can put the cereal boxes in the freezer for a week and then sift them out. As far as the boxelder bugs and Asian Lady Beetle, vacuuming them up is the best procedure. I don't recommend any spraying in our closed up houses at this time of the year.