Control of Occasional and Perimeter Pests

Close-up of a sowbug on the ground

"Perimeter pests" or "occasional invaders" are catch-all terms that refer to the wide variety of crawling critters that usually live outside our homes, but occasionally make their way inside. Most of these pests are insects or closely-related arthropods. Almost all of them are harmless, and a few are even beneficial.

Whether or not a perimeter pest problem needs to be controlled depends on the specific pest, the extent of the infestation, and how much you personally dislike them. Because most perimeter pests do no harm, a perimeter pest problem only needs to be treated when you say it needs to be treated. This is consistent with our Earth-friendly philosophy of pest control and the principles of Integrated Pest Management.

So if the occasional earwig or ground beetle pokes its head in your door, and that doesn't bother you, then there's no need to do anything about it. But if crawly critters in your home gross you out so much that you simply can't stand them, then by all means, give us a call and we'll help you get rid of them.

Common Perimeter Pests

There are many, many pests that live outside and occasionally get into homes. The ones who have agreed to appear on this page are just a few of the more common ones. Control methods for most of these pests are quite similar, so treating for one of them often takes care of the others, as well.

Earwigs

A European earwig with yellow flowers in the background

Earwigs are downright ugly, but basically harmless insects that frequently make their way into homes. Their name comes from an old myth that the insects will crawl into people's ears and bore into their brains while they're asleep. It's complete nonsense, of course, but the name lives on.

In addition to being ugly, earwigs are capable of emitting a foul-smelling liquid from their scent glands. They're also capable of pinching you with their forceps, but you probably wouldn't even feel it. Your elderly aunt pinching your cheek would hurt more than an earwig pinch.

Because earwigs require a fairly moist environment and have a fondness for eating decaying organic matter, they usually don't establish themselves inside homes unless there's a moisture problem. This is something that should be investigated if you see more than the occasional earwig inside your house.

Most earwigs seen inside homes, however, are wandering in from outside; so the treatment has to begin outside. Earwig control is best achieved using non-chemical methods such as proper landscaping, fixing moisture problems, and correcting excessive lighting as the primary control strategy. This helps insure effective control while minimizing the need for insecticides.

Silverfish and Firebrats

A close-up of a silverfish, a type of bristle-tailed insect

Silverfish and firebrats are known as "bristle tails" because of the three long bristles at the rear of their bodies. They're slender, wingless, fast-moving insects who get very wiggly when they're touched. Silverfish are shiny silver in color and prefer damp areas. Firebrats are tan or mottles gray and prefer dryer areas.

Although they always originate from outdoors, both silverfish and firebrats can become established inside a home. Silverfish are usually found in damp places like sill plates in crawl spaces or in the wall voids adjacent to kitchen and bathroom plumbing. Firebrats are more likely to be found in dry places like furnace rooms or dry attics in the summer. Homes with cedar shakes often develop large populations of silverfish behind the shakes, usually on the sides of the home facing south and east.

Effective treatment for silverfish and firebrats may include both interior and exterior treatments, depending on whether the insects have become established inside the house. Correcting conducive conditions is important, as is removing cardboard, clutter, and other harborage to rapidly reduce populations and reduce the need for insecticides.

Ladybugs

A close-up of a silverfish, a type of bristle-tailed insect

First of all, let's get something straight: Ladybugs are not bugs at all. Bugs belong to the taxonomic order Hemiptera. Ladybugs are actually beetles, and as such belong to order Coleoptera.

By whatever name, however, ladybugs are beneficial insects because they eat aphids and other destructive plant pests. In fact, some ladybugs were deliberately introduced to America to help control destructive agricultural pests. The problem is that as often happens when we start tweaking nature, the ladybugs liked America so much that they've become a pest in their own right, often numbering in the hundreds or thousands in a single house.

Specifically, ladybugs like to overwinter in homes. In the fall, they make their way behind the home's exterior and snuggle up inside the wall and ceiling voids to spend the winter. They start emerging when it gets warm, either because of the weather or sometimes because the heat comes on and fools them. They may emerge in very large numbers, on the inside or outside the home, for several weeks.

All that being said, ladybugs are still harmless, even in great numbers. If you're not bothered by them, then there's no great need to treat a ladybug infestation. They don't bite, spread diseases, contaminate food, eat wood, or do anything else that's in the least bit harmful; so it's really up to you whether you want to treat a ladybug infestation or not.

If you do want to treat for ladybugs, the best time to do so is in the late summer or early fall. This will reduce the problem the following spring by reducing the number of ladybugs who overwinter in your house. There are also various kinds of ladybug traps that can be very effective in some situations.

Sowbugs and Pillbugs

A close-up of a pillbug, rolled up in its defensive posture

Neither sowbugs (shown at the top of this page) nor pillbugs (shown here) are bugs. They're not even insects. They're crustaceans, which makes them more closely related to lobsters than to insects. They also require a very moist environment to survive. They're usually found in moist soil, rotting wood, under leaf litter, in organic mulches, and under rocks in damp areas.

Sowbugs are also known as "wood lice" because they're often found in damp or rotting wood. They feed primarily on decaying organic matter, but can also feed on young plants. In gardens, they are considered destructive pests, but they are harmless to humans.

Pillbugs are somewhat similar in appearance and habits to sowbugs, but their bodies are a bit shinier and less flattened. They also curl into a ball when they are touched or threatened and are often called "roly-poly bugs" by children. The pillbug shown in the picture is in its rolled-up, defensive posture.

It is never necessary to apply insecticides inside a home to control sowbugs or pillbugs. Unless you have a very serious moisture problem (in which case you need to address that problem), sowbugs and pillbugs will die of dehydration shortly after they get inside your home. Control measures, if needed, are performed outside. Correcting moisture or drainage problems and removing leaf litter and other organic matter are often all you have to do to correct sowbug or pillbug problems.

Exterior and Perimeter Pest Control

Bugaboo Pest Control offers a variety of programs that can help you control these and other perimeter pests and occasional invaders. But as you've probably figured out by now, you can do a lot to prevent perimeter pest problems by correcting the conditions that are conducive to these pests. Here are some specific suggestions:

Once you've done these things, if you still have problems with perimeter invaders, then give us a call for a no-obligation consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

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