Cold weather wont kill all insects

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2001

Bitterly cold temperatures in the state probably will reduce insect populations. But don't be surprised if some of these pests fi'nd their way into your home.

When temperatures drop below freezing, insects tend to become inactive or freeze to death, says Xing Ping Hu, urban entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

The bad news is some of the pests that survive these hard freezes may end up in your home.

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In most cases, insect infestations are caused when people bring potted plants and firewood into the house – many of which contain unwelcome stowaways such as ants or spiders.

On the other hand, many insects living within walls-especially ants and cockroaches sometimes move into the home when temperatures drop.

The first step should be controlling the insects' point of entry – namely cracks and other openings leading to the house. Also make sure potted plants brought into the home are free of insects. One effective control for fire ants is to water the potted plants thoroughly, forcing the ants out of the potting soil.

It is also important to move piles of debris, such as firewood or lawn debris, as far away from the house as possible. Debris provides a perfect place for insects to hide. As temperatures drop, these pests are likely to move into the home.

If you haven't followed these directions and insects already are in your home, don't panic. First, sweep the insects up and take them outside. The cold weather will take care of them, so they should not reenter.

If some of these pests manage to get away, don't worry. Toxic baits and sticky boards designed for ants and cockroaches are available for homeowners in small stations and can be purchased in most discount and grocery stores. Place bait stations in hidden areas where you see these pests. Insects need sources of food and moisture to survive. So long as the food storage and preparation areas are clean and there aren't open food parcels or leaky faucets around the home, they eventually will die.

Try and pinpoint openings in and around the home where the insects came from. Once you find these openings, seal them to ensure you get no more unwelcome visitors.