Dale K. Pollet, Merrill, Thomas A., Coolman, Denise | 10/29/2005 12:50:20 AM
When Louisiana temperatures take a dip, many people start thinking about building a roaring fire in their fireplaces. What they don’t dream of, however, are the insects that too often come inside with the firewood, says LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Dale Pollet.
"Such insect problems are widespread. But one way to cut down on the bugs that might invade your home with the firewood is to avoid bringing wood inside until you’re ready to burn it," Pollet advises.
"Insects that have used the wood as a food or resting place will emerge indoors and worry many people," the LSU AgCenter expert explains. "Insects such as long-horned beetles, buprestids, wasps, some moths and several other small arthropods will fly around indoors and are attracted to lights and windows."
"These insects will not infest the wood in your home," Pollet adds, explaining, "They are secondary infestors on freshly cut or damaged wood."
Most insects can be vacuumed up and released outdoors, Pollet says, adding that wasps generally are the only ones that will sting or cause any harm.
"Even a dead wasp can inflict a sting at times until the body dries out," the entomologist notes.
Pollet also says firewood isn’t the only source of problems with wasps during the winter. "Many people have a problem with wasps during the cool months," Pollet explains. "The queen wasps and bees will hibernate in the walls and attics of houses and, with the heating units running, the wasps may sometimes feel enough warmth to become active.
"Then they will come out of light fixtures and wall outlets and can be very serious in homes, dorms and other buildings," Pollet says.
The LSU AgCenter entomologist advises that if wasps are found in large numbers in attics or other areas of your home, they should be removed using a total release bomb with a pyrethroid insecticide. Then the source of entrance should be found and sealed, he says.
Cool weather also brings on problems with spiders, roaches and other small insects that try to flee the outdoors and seek shelter inside.
"To help combat this problem, be sure doors and windows are properly sealed," Pollet advises. "Treatments around doorways and windows with pyrethroids also will help to reduce these problem pests."
Another precaution from this time of year pertains to hunters. They also should take precautions before hitting the woods – particularly when removing hunting clothes that have been stored.
"These clothes are excellent hiding places for spiders and other pests such as clothes moths, silver fish, roaches and clothes-feeding beetles," Pollet says. "Clothes should be inspected and shaken well before getting into them the first time.
"Such clothes are an excellent place to find brown recluse spiders. Most people are bitten when trying on clothes. They feel something walking on them, and they slap it. Hence, the spider bites, and then they have other problems."
Just like firewood, Christmas trees, which will be out soon, can be a source of bringing insects inside.
"Inspect the trees carefully, and if any sooty mold or honey dew is observed, do not buy the tree," he said. "These are indications of aphids or scale infestations and, with them, you can get ladybeetles."
The LSU AgCenter entomologist says he knows plenty of examples where people have purchased trees with insect infestations. Then several days after setting up the tree inside and decorating it, they find insects walking and flying all over the house.
"These insects can be a mess to clean up and a nuisance," he says, advising that vacuuming is the best way to remove these insects from walls and furniture – to prevent stains from excretions or from body contents if they were mashed.
As a final cool-weather precaution, Pollet says to make sure pets are free of fleas. "This is one of the last things you need during the holidays," Pollet explains. "Bathe and treat your pet, and both of you will have a happy holiday."
For practical information on related topics, visit the AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com/