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Occasional invaders: information and resources

From rodents and wildlife to many species of insects, there are a lot of pests that can invade your home. Many of these pests, such as bed bugs, are concerns all year round. However, there are insects known as “occasional invaders” that only become a problem during a certain time of the year.

What are occasional invaders

The term 'occasional invaders’ is a general name for a group of insects and pests that can invade your home from time to time. These types of pests are actually more of a nuisance than anything, and there is typically little danger associated with them. However, occasional invaders are known for congregating in large numbers, which can become a problem if they come indoors.

Occasional invaders are active year-round and are found predominantly outdoors. As a homeowner, you may notice these types of pests more inside your home during the cooler months, especially in the fall. When the outdoor weather becomes detrimental to their survival, occasional invaders look to come indoors.

Types of occasional invaders

There are many types of occasional invaders. Below we break down a few of the most common occasional invaders found in residential properties.


Crickets are smaller insects that are distantly related to grasshoppers. They are omnivorous and can eat plants in large numbers. Indoors, crickets can be found near kitchens, fireplaces, and heaters as they thrive in warm, moist environments. If they enter your home, they can cause damage to some fabrics like wool, synthetics, and silk and can stain your clothes and furniture with their droppings. Crickets are most commonly known for their loud chirping at night.

Ground beetles

Ground beetles are members of a large family of beetles. They are small, ranging from about 1/16” to 1” in size, and are metallic black in color. Ground beetles find their way indoors through any tiny opening in a property’s foundation as they are attracted to light. Inside, they don’t cause any structural damage and are just more of a nuisance to homeowners.

Notorious for being hardy creatures who can easily adapt to different climates and environments, Japanese beetles are one of the most damaging invasive species in the world. Japanese beetles in recent years have been showing up in gardens, on farms and devouring vegetation across North America.

Ground beetle control

While in small numbers the ground beetle is a beneficial insect, but in large numbers they can harm beneficial organism counts and become a nuisance to homeowners. Ground beetles prefer to nest under logs, rocks, and other dark, moist areas. Limit the number of areas they have to shelter if you’re experiencing an unwieldy number of the insects. If you’re truly inundated, the best way to control populations is to reach out to a pest management professional.

Boxelder bugs

Boxelder bugs are often found on or around boxelder trees. They come out during late summer and first appear as bright red bugs congregating in huge numbers on the warm sides of buildings. Eventually, they become black with red stripes. They hibernate during cold months indoors between walls and on the inside of sheds and garages. Boxelder bugs are not known to cause any damage to properties. However, they do emit a foul smell when disturbed or crushed, so it is better to vacuum them to get rid of them.

Boxelder bug prevention

As the weather cools, boxelder bugs will begin looking for shelter. Nothing is as inviting to the boxelder than a warm, sunny home or commercial building. In order to keep boxelder bugs from invading your building, it’s important to take a few steps during the summer months to secure your home.

Inspect your home and take note of any possible points of entry, and then seal them. Possible vulnerable areas include broken screens on doors and windows; unsealed window frames and door frames; cracks in the foundation and siding; and gaps around the areas where plumbing, cables, and wires enter the building. While it is most likely not possible to seal all possible cracks and crevices (especially if you have vinyl siding, or other decorative paneling), you will greatly reduce your chance of infestation. To create an even better line of defense, combine the above measures with an insecticide or insect repellant spray.

Lady bugs

Lady bugs, also known as lady beetles, are small round beetles that are red with black spots. They are actually very healthy for the environment and beneficial to gardens. Sometimes, they swarm during autumn months, and hundreds can end up inside buildings and homes. Indoors, lady bugs prefer warm, dark, and undisturbed areas to lay their eggs. Once they find a spot inside, they will leave a pheromone trail to attract other ladybugs to their location, quickly causing an infestation. Fortunately, they are harmless to humans and only some species are destructive to certain plants.


Earwigs are relatively small insects ranging from ¼” to 1” long. They have elongated, flat bodies with pincers on their rear end - males have curved pincers and females have straight. Earwigs like warm, moist areas, so they are commonly found in bathrooms and laundry rooms. However, they are nocturnal and hide in crevices during the day to protect themselves. Earwigs might appear to be dangerous because of their pincers, but they are not poisonous to humans.


Millipedes are long, narrow insects that have two pairs of legs on each body segment. Varying weather elements can cause them to move indoors. Millipedes love damp areas and are usually found in basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. In these areas, they can group together in large numbers. However, they are harmless and will curl up when threatened.

Millipede habitat and behavior

Millipedes, sometimes called “thousand leggers”, are household pests. These creatures normally live outdoors where they feed on damp and decaying wood and vegetable matter, as well as tender roots and green leaves on the ground. Many millipede species protect themselves by means of glands that secrete an unpleasant odor.

In nature, millipedes are scavengers and feed mainly on decaying organic matter. They occasionally feed on young plants but the damage inflicted is seldom significant. Millipedes have high moisture requirements and tend to remain hidden under objects during the day. Millipedes often leave their natural habitats at night and crawl about over sidewalks, patios, and foundations. At certain times of the year, especially during autumn, they may migrate into buildings in great numbers.

While millipedes sometimes enter structures in large numbers, they do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases, nor do they infest food, clothing, or wood. Millipedes are simply a nuisance by their presence, often invading crawl spaces, damp basements, and first floors of structures at ground level. Frequent sightings of these pests indoors usually mean that there are large numbers breeding on the outside in the lawn, or beneath mulch, leaf litter, or debris close to the foundation. Because of their moisture requirement, millipedes do not survive indoors for more than a few days unless there are very moist or damp conditions.

Millipede control and prevention

Millipede’s rarely infest a home or building, but if you encounter a problem, a low-impact treatment and monitoring plan can easily eliminate. If you have any questions on getting rid of millipedes, feel free to contact us.

To prevent an overabundance of millipedes in your yard, practice proper landscaping. Rake your mulch beds regularly, and remove detritus (dead and decaying organic matter) from your yard and garden. If you’re finding millipedes in your home, use dehumidifiers to decrease humidity and consider a seasonal pest management program–like our Year Round Protection Plan.


Centipedes, also known as “Hundred-leggers”, have long legs that give them a “furry” appearance. They are predaceous and beneficial.They are attracted to damp, cool, dark environments. Though centipedes can be terrifying to find in your home, they actually eat other pests, like spiders, cockroaches, and silverfish. If they become too numerous, they can be a problem.

Centipede habitat and behavior

House centipedes are found throughout the United States and have an abundance of legs, fifteen pairs of very long, slender legs to be exact. Though house centipedes are found both indoors and outdoors, accidentally finding one trapped in the sink or bathtub, can be frightening. When outdoors, house centipedes are not considered harmful, but they may be considered pests when they share living spaces with us.

House centipedes are attracted to moisture and can be found outside under stones, boards, or sticks or beneath moist leaf litter and other organic matter. When found in homes, house centipedes most often occur in moist cellars, damp closets, and bathrooms, where they feed on insects and spiders. When disturbed, centipedes move quickly toward darkened hiding places. If house centipedes are abundant, there may be an underlying moisture problem in the home that should be corrected.

House centipedes have a pair of poison claws located behind their head and use them to poison and paralyze their prey, usually small insects. The weak jaws of the house centipede can penetrate the skin, but with difficulty. Bites can result in swelling and pain, but usually are no worse than a bee sting. House centipedes are considered nuisance pests and when they come into your yard, it is often because they are looking for food. If centipedes find food near your exterior walls, and there are open cracks or crevices, they can accidentally get inside your home.

Centipede control and prevention

The best way to control for centipedes is to decrease the suitability of your home or office building as a habitat. Centipedes need a dark, moist environment, so decreasing humidity and eliminating sources of moisture is a good first step. Also, make sure you’ve properly sealed any cracks and crevices around the perimeter of your home.

Because centipedes are insectivores, by eliminating and preventing other insect infestations, you are eliminating centipede food sources! For the most part, house centipedes prefer to be outdoors where they have plenty of prey to hunt. Occasionally they may make it inside your home through tiny cracks or holes, where they will seek out damp, dark areas such as the basement to hide. To prevent them from getting inside, it’s important to install screens on doors and windows and to seal any cracks or holes in the foundation of your property.

Both centipede and general insect prevention can be greatly aided by year round pest management plan, so consider talking to your pest management professional about preventive treatments.


Silverfish are tiny insects, ranging anywhere from ½” to ¾” in size. They have a flattened body with a silvery look that resembles scales. They prefer warm, wet areas, and are often found in bathroom sinks and tubs, basements, and attics. Silverfish hibernate in protected areas and hide from humans, so their presence, and sometimes their damage, can go unnoticed. Silverfish can devour fabrics, paper, wallpaper, and books if left untreated.


Springtails get their name from the appendages beneath their abdomen. These tiny insects are found year-round and heavy rain can cause them to come indoors. They like damp environments and are often found around air conditioning condensate drain lines and pools with surrounding vegetation. Springtails do not cause damage, but are often mistaken for fleas. They are also not a threat to pets or humans.

Springtail habitats and behaviors

Springtails are tiny and occur in various shapes and sizes, however, they all have an appendage, called a furcula that is tucked up under their abdomen. When a springtail is disturbed, it releases the furcula, which propels the insect through the air and away from danger. These minute insects occasionally invade homes and are particularly prominent in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Most reports of hundreds or thousands of tiny, dark jumping insects can be correctly diagnosed as springtails.

Springtails sometimes alarm homeowners by appearing in large numbers in moist indoor areas such as kitchen sinks, bathtubs, and in the soil of houseplants. They may also be found outdoors in swimming pools, moist landscaped areas or vegetable gardens, and on the surface of mud puddles. They usually appear in the spring and early summer, but can be found year-round in moist environments. Springtail infestations are usually associated with dampness, organic debris, and mold.

Since springtails jump when disturbed, they are sometimes confused with fleas. However, springtails do not bite humans or pets, nor do they spread disease or damage household furnishings. Mainly a nuisance pest, springtails can become a problem in newly constructed buildings because of damp building materials and wet plaster. As the building dries, the springtails will die off or leave. They can also be a nuisance around swimming pools when they fall in and drown in large numbers, often coating the pool surface. Although unsightly in the pool, they can be safely removed without cause for concern.

How to get rid of occasional invaders

At Ehrlich, we have methods that will help stop infestations of occasional invaders. We have a very thorough process where your specialist will identify the type of pest, develop the right treatment plan, and treat the exterior and interior areas that occasional invaders might find attractive.

There are some things that you can do around your home and property to prevent an invasion from occasional invaders like those listed above. These include:

  • Inspecting your property for cracks, holes, or other potential entry points and sealing any openings with caulking
  • Sealing window and door frames tightly and repairing any damaged screens
  • Installing door sweeps if you have any gaps beneath any doors, including the garage door
  • Running a dehumidifier in damp and humid areas of the home, like basements and bathrooms
  • Thoroughly inspecting any plants brought in from outdoors

The best way to get rid of most occasional invaders in your home is to use a vacuum to sweep them up and then empty the vacuum into a sealed garbage bag to prevent them from returning. Some of these pests, like boxelder bugs, omit an odor when squished, which is why it is better to get rid of them with a vacuum. 

If you experience an influx of any of the species listed above, it is important to contact us right away. You can stop an invasion before it gets too severe.

Contact Ehrlich today at 800-837-5520 to learn more about how we can help prevent and get rid of occasional invaders in your home or business.

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