Group of Asian ladybeetles in window gap

Overwintering pests: A spring awakening

Tiffany Tenley

Overwintering pests… they stink, gather in clusters, and are anything but ladies. Not to mention a menacing character that goes by the name, Boxelder. Confused? Let me clarify. The weather is warming up causing thousands of overwintering pests to creep out of eaves, walls, siding, floorboards, and any other crevice that remained above freezing over the winter months. Although they pose minimal health and safety risks, the sheer quantity of these overwintering pests can become a nuisance—leaving excrement stains on furniture, curtains, woodwork, floors and walls. Never a welcoming sight when they’re in the hundreds, flying through the air, landing in your hair, coffee and food, while Fido and Mr. Meow are trying to bat them down or lap them up. To make matters worse, your darn Shop-Vac isn’t cutting it. True story!

Sharing a home with one pest, let alone hundreds, is not something many people would put up with, especially when they leave behind stains, emit odors and cause respiratory issues. Sound like a college frat house party gone awry? That’s why it’s imperative to be proactive. Once overwintering pests move in, squatters’ rights go into effect, making early eviction nearly impossible.

Boxelder Bugs

What are overwintering pests?

Overwintering pests are insects that prefer to live outside when temperatures are mild, and survive cold winter temperatures by temporarily seeking shelter in your home. They also go by the aliases occasional invaders and fall invaders. These pests don’t breed or lay eggs inside your home. They are mostly just nuisance pests that invade homes in the fall and vacate in the spring. The most common overwintering pests are Asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs and stink bugs as described in the chart below.

overwintering pests chart

Types of overwintering pests

Asian lady beetles

Asian lady beetles are nothing like their relative, the ladybug. These overwintering pests are mean and will bite you whether you’re provoking them or not. In addition to their bite, they can also pose health risks, especially when there are large quantities living in your home. Their secretions have been known to cause mild respiratory issues, and even trigger severe asthmatic episodes. You can also contract conjunctivitis (pink eye) if you touch one, then rub your eyes. Wear gloves if you plan on coming in contact with these pests.

Boxelder bugs

Boxelder bugs, named after the tree on which they feed and lay their eggs, can be found wherever boxelder trees grow. These trees are found mainly in the Midwest and eastern U.S.—in states that experience freezing temperatures for months at a time. In the spring, boxelder bugs will emerge from overwintering.

Stink bugs

Stink bugs may be harmless, but as a defense they can release an unpleasant odor that can last for a couple of days. You may want to steer clear of these little stinkers. If you find them in your home, don’t squish them. Instead, vacuum them up or transport them outdoors.

Overwintering pests in the fall

You may have observed large masses of these pests on the outside of buildings in the fall, as they leisurely absorb the last days of sun. This is merely a holding pattern—a pre-winter invasion plan in progress. Once the temperatures dip and the sun fades, platoons of these pests proceed to claim your home as an overwintering resort. They’ll squirm and squeeze behind any nook or cranny that’s accessible and stay there until spring. However, if the winter sun warms your home just enough, you may see them prematurely emerging by the hundreds—this is when they become a nuisance.

Brown Marmorated shield bug group

How to prevent overwintering pests from entering your home

The best way to prevent overwintering pests is to seal or repair any cracks and crevices (around windows, eaves, doors, insulation and siding). Pay close attention to places where pipes and wires enter your home. Ehrlich’s pest control services include applying a protective barrier to cracks and crevices, which will help to minimize the population. The best time to seal up your home is in the spring after the overwintering pests have vacated, or in the fall before they have moved in.

Ehrlich offers FREE pest inspections

Are pests overwintering in your home? Ehrlich can help. One of our highly trained specialists will inspect the outside of your home, sealing all entry points, then apply a residual treatment that will keep overwintering pests away. Call 1-888-984-0186 to schedule your free pest inspection, first.

Tiffany Tenley
Tiffany Tenley

As a Marketing Content Manager, Tiffany has come to love and appreciate the diverse and complex world of pests—good, bad and ugly. Not only does she research and write about them, she admits to having eaten a few crickets on some cheese-laden nachos. When she's not working, Tiffany enjoys spending time with her family, exploring new restaurants, concert-going, reading, writing and traveling.

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