Insect Update: Bugs In The House During Winter

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
Ants on Electrical Outlet
Wally Hartshorn (CC-BY-NC)

Even though it’s winter, it’s possible that ants and other bugs remain active or will become active in your home, according to Larry Meiller’s insect expert. Join Larry to explore why this is, plus learn about the Zika Virus, which has made headlines recently and is spread through mosquito bites.

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  • Got Ants In The House During The Winter? That's Not Unusual, Expert Says

    As the winter sun warms the — especially southern — sides of our homes and walls, it’s possible that it will wake up things that were sleeping in there, according to a Wisconsin-based insect expert.

    One common insect complaint that entymologist Phil Pelliterri said he he hears about this time of the year is ants, and in particular, carpenter ants, which are relatively large and black.

    “What this suggests, aside from, they have to be nesting in the house, is they’re probably nesting away from an outside wall,” Pellitteri said. “Right now, they’re only looking for water so you might see them around the bathroom sink at night or maybe around the kitchen and then they seem to disappear.”

    For those looking to say goodbye to the insects in the coming months, one option is bait. Pellitteri said there are ways to bait later in the season, in the spring when they start looking for “true food” to feed young.

    One thing to be mindful of when using bait at any time though is bait acceptance by the insect, Pellitteri said.

    “In order to be effective, it’s a combination of how much baits they take and how many ants are back in the colony, but the most important aspect is that the ant that we have to kill is the queen,” he said. “Carpenter ants, unlike honey bees, if you kill the queen, they have no way with recovering and so that’s the secret.”

    However, Pellitteri said it seems carpenter ants are very careful when they bring new food sources in.

    “The queen does not necessarily see the baits right away, which is kind of a safety precaution biologically because they can’t afford to lose her,” he said.

    There’s also sprays that have come on the market in the last 10 years or so that have been effective. However, Pellitteri said typically people have to get pest control services to put these products on. This is another thing to be done in the coming months.

    “They’d spray the outside of the house in the spring and these (are) 100 percent effective if it’s done correctly because the ants have to craw through it to go out and look for food,” Pellitteri said. “Carpenter ants have gotten easier to control in the last few years because of these treatments.”

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Breann Schossow Producer
  • Phil Pellitteri Guest

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