Often, we notice insects as soon as daytime temperatures routinely reach 50 degrees. The first insects seen may be more of a nuisance than a problem, such as the multi-colored Asian ladybeetle and flies.
But there are others that may cause problems.
One is the Indian meal moth, which may be found in the home. This moth is rather plain and relatively small, and is gray to beige with a dark strip on its wings.
Indian meal moths may emerge from old cereal-grain products that were stored around kitchens. Other sources may be old rice for decorations and ceremonies, old bird feed, ornamental corn, or old pet food.
Sanitation is the best way to control and prevent them. Dispose of the infested food, regularly clean out storage areas, and periodically check for any new infestations. Insecticides should not be necessary with good sanitation practices.
Additional information may be found at https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-37.pdf.
Also, look out for termites and carpenter ants. When a termite colony gets a certain size, part of the group will establish a new colony. This tends to happen on a warm spring day after a rainfall.
Evidence of termites includes pencil-sized mud tubes constructed on the surface of foundation walls, mud protruding from cracks between boards and beams, and hollow and rotting wood. If you suspect damage, confirm if it is termites.
Then, take time to determine your action. Termites are a serious problem, but their damage is rather slow.
Most likely, a professional exterminator is needed. However, many suspected termites turn out to be carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants may resemble a new swarming of termites. Identification may be made by looking at the wings and bodies. Both insects have two sets of wings.
Wings of a termite are all the same size, but the front wings on the carpenter ant are noticeably larger than the hind pair. Also, carpenter ant wing tips are pointed and termite wings tend to be paddle-shaped. Termite wings break easily from the body, but ants’ stay attached. Often, loose wings will be seen around a termite swarm.
However, body segments are the fastest way to tell the two insects apart. Ant bodies have three distinct segments. Termites have two.
Carpenter ants are not as destructive as termites. They do not eat the wood, but chew through it, scavenging out an area for nesting. Carpenter ants often attack areas of moist wood around water pipe areas.
Sawdust is often seen around areas damaged by carpenter ants since they do not eat wood. Like termites, a professional exterminator may be needed to remove the problem.
Information may be found on termites and carpenter ants at: http://www.ihavepest.com/Images/userfiles/Information%20About%20Termites.pdf and at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-2064.
A new nuisance you may see this spring is the brown marmorated stink bug. This insect has a “shield”-shaped body that is characteristic of all stink bugs.
The adults are approximately 5/8-inch long with a mottled brownish grey color. The underside is white, sometimes with grey or black markings, and the legs are brown with faint white banding.
If this insect gets in your home, you can simply remove them or use a shop vacuum. The insect will smell and potentially stain fabric if smashed rather than physically removed from an area.
Caulking and sealing your home will greatly reduce the chance of infestation. Window air conditioners are a favorite point of entry, so make sure they are completely sealed around the unit.
For the homeowner, the brown marmorated stink bug is a nuisance, but it has the potential to become a serious pest in the fruit industry. More information may found at http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug for this pest.
By being diligent and observant, these insects will only be an inconvenience rather than a destructive pest.
Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for The Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at lentz.38@osu.edu.
Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.