If you’ve heard some strange sounds in your walls or seen tiny droppings around your house, you’re going to want to check for pests like crickets, spiders, hornets and mice.
The fall season is when crawling insects and small animals make their way up out of the ground and into cozy places where they might decide to try and stay for the winter.
Some of the most common buzzing and chirping sounds that pop up around homes in the Lakes Area this time of year are hornets, crickets and grasshoppers, according to Nick Stokke, owner and technician of Prairie Pest Control.
Fargo-based Prairie Pest Control has served residential, commercial and lake properties in parts of Minnesota and North Dakota for the past four years; Stokke himself has 10 years of experience in pest control.
“It’s definitely been a crazy year for them (hornets), they really thrive in the heat and the dryness,” Stokke says. There’s plenty of places for hornets to hide, such as in rock piles, wood piles or underneath a cement slab or deck, but you might spot a large group of hornets, see one flying to a nest, or find an exposed nest.
Hornets, along with flies and crickets, buzz around in early fall and stick around for the turning of the leaves. Stokke says keeping your yard clear of leaves, dead grass and other debris is important to keeping those pests out. He also recommends not having long grass.
“You just want to keep your yard, or around the home, free and clear of as much clutter as you can, and that’ll really help you either prevent something from coming in or it’ll help you notice more, like sooner…if you do have any issues,” he says.
Other insects you might notice around the house more in the fall are Asian lady beetles, which cluster together in ceiling corners for warmth, and cluster flies, boxelder bugs, Western conifer seed bugs and others. You may spy these bugs meandering around your walls and window sills.
Spiders, too, start entering homes more in the fall. Lake and river properties are especially susceptible to spiders, according to Becky’s Pest Solutions of Wadena, which serves central and northern Minnesota. Treatments applied around the outside of a house will help prevent spiders from going inside.
There's no easy preventative like that for mice, unfortunately, and it doesn't take long for a mouse problem to go from bad to worse: Mice reproduce fast, with up to 10 litters per year, of six to 12 babies each, Becky's Pest Solutions says. Besides the obvious intrusion into your home, mice leave dirty droppings around and can carry fleas, ticks and mites.
“With mice...come fall time, it just seems like there’s always a little bit more found in the cabins or homes -- you know, sometimes people may start seeing mouse droppings, or they just might see the mouse itself maybe running around the outside of the house,” says Stokke.
While discovering pests isn’t always easy, Stokke said the company is available for questions, like sending in pictures of a certain bug or droppings to see if they are an issue.
“We’re always here to help whether it’s questions about a certain pest that they may have or … we get some people that will just call us and say, ‘Hey, what kind of bug is this? Is this an issue?’” Stokke said.
Common fall pests, and how to get rid of them
Asian lady beetles
What they look like: A bigger-sized ladybug.
Where they’ll be: These bugs head into your home from September to October along the corners of walls and ceilings, window sills and door jambs.
How to get rid of them: The companies recommend an exterior treatment near the doors, windows and soffits. You can also use a vacuum to get rid of the beetles once you spot them, and make sure that gaps and cracks are sealed.
What they look like: A small black bug with gaps of red and orange.
Where they’ll be: You can find them along the corners of walls and ceilings, window sills and door jambs.
How to get rid of them: Make sure that gaps and cracks are sealed and again pull out your vacuum when you find them. You don’t want to kill these bugs inside the walls since they would bring in other pests.
What they look like: Watch for their long legs.
Where they’ll be: The cooling weather brings in the chirping but otherwise you might discover chew marks on walls and fabric or see them in large quantities.
How to get rid of them: Your vacuum cleaner is your best friend to say goodbye to the annoying noise.
What they look like: These larger black and yellow-striped flying bugs are similar to wasps.
Where they’ll be: The hives are nestled under eaves and cement or in the ground or foundation walls and you might see the hornets in rocks or wood piles.
How to get rid of them: The exterior of your home is your focus with either peppermint oil on cotton balls around the outside or a treatment.
What they look like: Mice are gray, furry rodents.
Where they’ll be: They’re hoping for a warm spot and can be heard at night with their scratching and scurrying. You might also see mouse droppings.
How to get rid of them: Seal or cover any exterior areas and try placing mouse traps with cheese or peanut butter. These traps should be placed near food sources and change locations every few days.
What they look like: With long, skinny legs and a yellowish brown color, American house spiders are the most common.
Where they’ll be: Both indoors and outdoors, such as by doors, windows, under eaves and decks and deck railings.
How to get rid of them: You’re going to want to spray entryways and gaps with vinegar and water. An exterior treatment will also help. For cobwebs, take out your vacuum nozzle attachment.
*Information from Prairie Pest Control and Becky’s Pest Solutions