University of Maryland Extension

December Indoor & Outdoor Insect Tips

praying mantid egg case on tree
A praying mantis egg case is firmly attached around the Christmas tree's stems and needles, but it can be carefully peeled from the tree. Photo: B. Malinich, OSU Extension

(More tips from HGIC)

  • You may notice insects and spiders emerging from around your Christmas tree. They came in unnoticed on your tree. Simply escort them outside or vacuum them up.
  • The brown marmorated stink bug is settling down in nooks and crevices in houses and buildings for the winter. You may see several moving about in your home especially on warmer sunny winter days. Do not use insecticide sprays in your house to kill them, capture and dispose of them using your shop vac. The stink bug is likely here to stay for a while, but like all insects may display fluctuating population cycles.
  • Miscellaneous beetles, like long-horned beetles and bark beetles may emerge from firewood stored inside the home. These are nuisance pests; they are not a threat to the wood in your home. You can also prevent pests from coming into the house by storing firewood outside the house.
  • You may notice large, brown humpbacked crickets with long antennae and long back legs that don’t chirp. These are camel or cave crickets and are attracted to damp, dark locations in the home. Exclude them as you would other nuisance pests by sealing up openings around foundations, doors, and windows – dehumidify basement if possible.
  • Ticks remain active as long as daytime temperatures are above freezing. Check yourself and loved ones closely for ticks after hiking.
  • Pantry pests, like Indian meal moths, cigarette beetles, and sawtooth grain beetles may be found around windows trying to get out of your home. No chemical controls are recommended for pantry pests. Discard infested products and vacuum and clean the area around the infestation with soapy water. (PDF HG 67)
  • Cluster flies resemble large houseflies and may suddenly appear around window or lamps in the fall, winter or spring. They occupy attics or wall voids and become active on warm, sunny days during the winter. Prevent their entry by sealing up all small holes and cracks around the outside or your home. Control them once indoors with a fly swatter…they are very easy to hit.
  • Grain mites are extremely small, 8 legged creatures that are light colored and resemble household dust. They often feed on dry pet foods and dry goods stored in the pantry. Discard infested products, vacuum and clean the area around the infestation with soapy water.
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