Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bugs Move Inside with Changing of Season

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bugs Move Inside with Changing of Season

Article excerpt

Gardening season is coming to a close, but we're still getting calls on our Response Line at the Shawnee County Extension Office.

The calls change throughout the season as issues change. We haven't received a call on tomatoes in weeks. Tree calls still come in with some regularity, while lawn questions are almost daily.

An issue that seems to be cropping up in these cooler days is insects inside homes. Although many insects can invade your home with malicious intent -- or so we perceive -- many are simply lost travelers.

Pillbugs, ants and ground beetles are the insects we're seeing now. One may require removal, while the other two need a map and compass.

Pillbugs

Pillbugs and sowbugs -- or as everyone I know says, roly polys -- are a common crustacean 5 to 8mms long. Their color changes with age; they can be brown, gray or black. Sowbugs differ in their small, almost tail-like appendages that pillbugs lack. Sowbugs also can't roll themselves into a ball like pillbugs can.

Each of these crustaceans needs moisture, because they can't control moisture loss from their bodies. Both also feed on decaying matter. Occasionally, they may feed on stems and roots of young seedlings. Neither insect is a serious problem in your home. Because they don't live long without water, a broom and dust pan are the needed tools to resolve this issue.

Ants

Most people know an ant when they see one. The confusion arises when the ant you're seeing has wings like a termite's. Ants have a large top wing and a small bottom segment, while termites have two large wing segments on each side. Termite antennae come straight out of their heads, while ant antennae come out -- a small segment -- and then jut to the outside. Ants have a visible waist, while termite bodies are thick all the way through.

Although termites are a much more serious pest, ants aren't wanted in the home either. Ants come into your home seeking food and water. Once they find it, they leave a chemical trail for the rest of the family to join. This trail can be treated, but the ants will find another pathway.

Spraying the nest with an insecticide labeled for ants will kill the inhabitants, but finding the outside nest is difficult. …

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