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Donít invite bugs to holiday parties

LSU AgCenter News -   Dec 22, 2011

Winter doesnít seem like prime time for pests, but our habits around the holidays and during cold weather could bring bugs into our homes.

Christmas trees, firewood, potted plants, decorations from the attic – these all can harbor a host of insects, says LSU AgCenter entomologist Dennis Ring.

When freezes threaten, people bring in their tender potted plants – and with them, insects.

"If you bring plants in, you are going to bring in mites, aphids, things that are on the plant already," Ring said. "You could have ants in the pot or fungus gnats in the soil."

Spraying the plants with an appropriate insecticide before you bring the plants in could kill the pests on the plant. Drench the soil to kill ants and gnats.

Firewood can contain roaches, beetles and spiders. Ring says to store firewood in a closed container indoors to keep these pests from emerging in your home. Only bring in what you intend to use in the next day or so.

When we take Christmas decorations from the attic, we can introduce silverfish into our homes. These pests may move into structures looking for warmth, according to Ring.

"The important thing with silverfish is reduce moisture and paper," the entomologist said. "They eat paper, and if you store things in a cardboard box, youíve provided them with paper."

A pyrethroid will kill silverfish.

Ring says pantry pests are common in the winter.

"Many people bake a lot during the holidays, and if you buy items that have sat in a warehouse a while, they could contain pantry pests."

Common pantry pests include saw-tooth grain beetles and Indian meal moth. They are found in processed foods. Ring also says to seal openings around the home that may entice rodents looking for wood and warmth to enter the house.

"If itís not metal or glass, they will chew through it, so seal openings with metal screens," he said.

Ring also recommends changing outdoor lights to yellow bug lights to cut down on the amount of insects attracted to your home.

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