The Definition of a Pest

October 21, 2009 0 Comments

This is what is listed in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for pest:

Pronunciation: \ˈpest\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French peste, from Latin pestis
Date: 1513

1 : an epidemic disease associated with high mortality; specifically : plague
2 : something resembling a pest in destructiveness; especially : a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns (as agriculture or livestock production)
3 : one that pesters or annoys : nuisance


I think most of us associate definition number three with the word.  And I am pretty sure that almost everyone will think that this:

Asian Lady Beetle

Asian Lady Beetle

is a pest.  Especially at this time of the year when they start to migrate.

Sometimes I think this many are coming into the house on my clothes!

Sometimes I think this many are coming into the house on my clothes!

A lot of people think that they start to head to our houses when the farmers start combining the beans.

According to entomologists at Iowa State, this is not so.  There are apparently soybean aphids that the asian lady beetles love to eat, but by the time the farmers are in the fields the aphids are gone.  The plants are dead, so there isn’t anything for the aphids to eat and therefore, there is nothing for the beetles to eat.  This is just the time of year that they start to migrate.  They tend to migrate when it gets warm after the first hard freeze and that happens to coincide with the harvest.


The ladybug that we all love and want in our gardens

...and they all came down for the Ladybug picnic!

...and they all came down for the Ladybug picnic!

likes to head for the hills and shelter in natural cavities in the fall.

The Asian Lady Beetle, however, likes to stay at lower elevations and seems to prefer our houses.  They will cling to vertical surfaces which is why you see them all over the outside of your house.  They work their way into the house through small cracks or crevices or natural breaks in window panes.

This is a photo from Diane Lipgens Dodd's blog.  She is in Turin, Iowa out in the Loess Hills. She doesn't like them either!

This is a photo from Diane Lipgens Dodd's blog about life in the Loess Hills.

To keep this from happening, seal cracks around doors and windows and where the utilities come into the house.  

Place screen over vents. 

A type of screen that you can put on vent pipes.

A type of screen that you can put on vent pipes.

And you can spray around the outside of the house to get rid of some of them.  Checking with the ISU Extension service (here), they mention that “Ohio State Universityresearches have found that lamda-cyhalothrin, deltamethrin and bifenthrin work the best. You can find them at your local garden centers. Read and follow label directions when you apply pesticides.”  I am glad that I don’t have to try to pronounce those chemicals!


Of course, that doesn’t help when they hitchhike into the house on your back.  They don’t really do any damage, they are just a nuisance.  Once they are in the house the best thing you can do is vacuum them up.  Dwayne always puts moth balls in the vacuum bag.  I don’t like the smell of them at all, but neither do the bugs that he sucks up with the machine.  And they never crawl back out, either!


I hope this helps keep at least some of these pests at bay.  Or at least at a minimum.  I usually rely on the cats to let me know when the bugs are in the house and then we drag out the vacuum cleaner to sweep them up. 

Let me know if you have any other suggestions for “treatment”.


Dig it!

Filed in: General, Pests

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