As fall brings more bugs inside, a University of Guelph insect curator offers a reminder that most of these insects are harmless to humans and houses.
Dr. Steve Paiero is curator of the U of G Insect Collection in the School of Environmental Sciences at the Ontario Agricultural College. An entomologist, Paiero has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications on insects including bees, beetles, crickets and grasshoppers.
As the weather turns cooler, homeowners can expect to find small numbers of insects like boxelder bugs, ladybugs, cluster flies and stink bugs looking for a safe place to overwinter, says Paiero.
“They do not ‘infest’ the home, as they cause no general harm to the house or the occupants,” he says.
Most insects can be returned outside by hand or by trapping them in a small container. But to prevent them from coming inside, Paiero recommends winterizing homes.
“Many homes have gaps and cracks that are difficult to block completely or are there for a reason, such as vents and brick weeps. The best approach would be to address gaps that should not be there such as issues caused from damage or age and prioritize areas where the insects have aggregated during the summer months,” he says.
Just like humans, insects are sensitive to the cold – which is why they try to enter homes in the first place. Giving them a natural space to overwinter outside, like leaf litter, bark and cavities in logs and trees in gardens, is another way to keep them out, Paiero says.
He recently discussed why boxelder bugs are in homes with the Cambridge Times, and is available for interviews.
Dr. Steve Paiero