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Seasonal Pests in Kansas

Box Elder bug on daisy

Boxelder Bugs

The bodies of box elder bugs are black in color and are marked by red lines along the thorax and sides. Their wings are flat and red. Box elder bugs measure between 11 to 14 mm long.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Box elder bugs do not nest indoors year-round. Rather, they make their homes in box elder, maple and ash trees during warmer seasons and migrate into buildings and homes to find shelter for the winter. They enter through small cracks and crevices within the building, and remain inside, hibernating, through fall and winter. They emerge when heat sources within the building are high and can be located in the warmest areas of a structure’s walls. While they do not cause damage to buildings, their droppings are unsightly and leave stains on furniture and linens.

Adult bugs live and breed on the leaves of box elder trees, laying their eggs in spring. They feed on soft parts of box elder trees, including leaves, flowers and new twigs. They also extract juices, causing minimal to substantial damage to their host tree.

Signs of a Box Elder Bug Infestation
Like many overwintering pests, the most startling sign is the bugs when they invade in staggering numbers. They usually appear on sunny sides of buildings in the fall. They invade the voids of the building to overwinter. While overwintering, they do not feed or reproduce.

To stop box elder bugs from multiplying, it is often helpful to remove their host trees from the area surrounding your home, but the adults can still fly from locations off the property. If you choose to plant box elder trees in your yard, choose male trees: (non-seed-bearing) since female box elder trees are more susceptible to infestation. However, box elder trees are not recommended for ornamental planting. These insects can also enter through windows and doors; ensure that these close properly and utilize screen doors to keep box elder bugs from entering.

Box elder bugs become a pest nuisance when they congregate on the exterior of buildings and eventually find a way inside to overwinter. While box elder bugs are somewhat easy to identify, it is best to contact your pest management professional for treatment advice and recommendations since boxelder bug treatment must be an integrated program that includes both non-chemical and chemical methods.

Exclusion is an effective, long-term treatment method even though it may be labor intensive. Since box elder bugs become most problematic when they get inside buildings, keeping them out is vital. Some examples of important exclusion activities include:

  • Repairing damaged windows and door screens

  • Installing door sweeps on exterior doors

  • Installing or repairing screens in roof and soffit vents

  • Sealing holes or gaps around places where cables, wires or plumbing enters the building

  • Plugging gaps at doors, windowsills, roof joints, and fascia boards. Checking for and sealing gaps and cracks where different building materials meet. For example, where siding meets the brick exterior or foundation.

However, there may be some locations where exclusion is not practical, so using chemical product treatments (extermination) in strict accordance with the product’s label directions might be a necessary adjunct to exclusion, especially if large numbers of boxelder bugs are present and/or there is a history of boxelder bug invasions.

The best time of year for using chemical products is late-summer and early-fall when boxelder bugs are first clustering around the outside of buildings. Also, if boxelder bugs do get inside a building, using vacuums rather than chemical methods is preferred.

Camel Cricket up close

Camel (Cave) Cricket

Cave crickets, also known as camel crickets and spider crickets, belong to the Family Rhaphidophoridae. As their name implies, these crickets are commonly found in caves, although some species also dwell in cool, damp areas such as beneath rotten logs, damp leaves and stones.

Cave crickets are wingless, brown in color and their bodies, not including legs, can measure up to 5 cm in length in some species. They have large hind legs and a set of long antennae, which serve as guides through their darkened environments. The cave crickets’ long limbs enable them to jump high and far. The bodies of these crickets are bent forward and appear to be humped at the back. Many cave cricket species live without sufficient food sources. Some species of cave cricket have been known to damage clothing and curtains when they invade homes.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Cave crickets may move inside when their environment becomes too hot and dry. They are not usually capable of reproducing outside of their outdoor habitats and rarely find indoor locations that are dark and damp enough to suit them.

Infestation and Prevention
Should a cave cricket infestation become a problem in your home, it is important to locate and eliminate all possible breeding conditions. Piles of damp wood or leaves in or surrounding the structure should be removed. The basement or crawlspace should be kept ventilated and dry, as these conditions prove unlivable to cave cricket populations. Screens on crawlspace vents and basement windows can help to keep these crickets out.

Two Clover Mites up close

Clover Mites

Clover mite adults are oval shaped, eight legged, red colored and are about as small as the head of a pin. The front pair of legs is very long compared to the other six legs and may be confused for the mite’s antennae.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Although clover mites are not a danger to human health and do not destroy furniture, clothing or food items, they can become an indoor nuisance when invading homes, business and medical facilities. Once inside, they will soon die, but not until they have created problems resulting from an annoying presence and cosmetic damage from red stains resulting from mites that are crushed. This stain is not the mite’s blood, but is the mite’s body pigments. Clover mites are not blood feeders, but feed on plants getting their nutrition from sucking plant juices from grasses, clover and other plants common to lawns. Clover mites can become a nuisance in multi-story buildings since they can live on rooftops and patios where mold or mildew provide sources of food.

Clover mites go through 4 life stages – eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults. The clover mite overwinters in any dry protected location primarily in the egg stage. Sidewalk cracks, walls of buildings and logs can host vast numbers of overwintering eggs.

The overwintering eggs hatch early in the spring and clover mite adults become active as soon as the temperature warm above about the mid-forties and begin to climb up the exterior walls from the ground and gain entrance around windows and doors. Overwintering mites hatch in the spring and begin to produce second generations. Spring generations will aestivate, which is a form of summer hibernation where mites go inactive on warm, dry days. Second generations typically complete in the fall.

Clover mite populations may become large since females can lay up to 70 eggs and each becomes a mature adult in 30 days or less under suitable circumstances. Clover mites reproduce by parthenogenesis, which means the females are able to reproduce without being fertilized by the males.

Signs of Infestation
Observance of the reddish colored clover mites crawling on surfaces such as windowsills and siding on the sunny sides of homes are the most obvious indicator of an infestation.

House Cricket on tile

House Cricket

House crickets grow up to 2 cm in length. They are light brown in color and feature three stripes on their heads, as well as long, slender antennae. The wings of the house cricket are held flat against the back and are bent at the sides. Female specimens have long, slender, tube-like structures known as ovipositors. These are projected from the abdomen and are intended for laying eggs. Both sexes have cerci at the back of their abdomens. Young house crickets resemble adults, except for their underdeveloped wings. The life cycle of a house cricket is typically two to three months.

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Behavior, Diet & Habitat
House crickets (
Acheta domesticus) are opportunistic omnivores. They reproduce quickly and make loud, high-pitched sounds at night. These sounds are produced when male crickets rub their forewings together to attract females. Research has shown that female house crickets are capable of discerning which cricket is larger through these songs alone. Cricket sounds also vary by species.

House crickets are not native to the United States. They have been introduced from Asia trough their use as pet food and fishing bait. Wild populations of house crickets are most common east of the Mississippi River, although there are also concentrations of crickets in Southern California and in Texas.

Signs of Infestation
Signs of a house cricket infestation mostly include seeing an unusually high number of insects inside your home.

Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetle (lady bug) on tree

Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beetle

Multicolored Asian lady beetles are common throughout most of the United States and parts of Canada. The scientific name is
Harmonia axyridis (Pallas). This is one of a very large family of beetles known as Coccinellidae. Many people call these beetles “ladybugs.”

Multicolored Asian lady beetles are about 7 mm long. As the name indicates, they occur in a wide spectrum of colors ranging from yellow to orange to red and have a varying number of spots. The variability of appearance in the adults can mislead people to think they are different species. A characteristic that assists in their identification is an “M” shaped marked located behind the head.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
There are many species of Coccinellidae in the U.S. and Canada. Most are beneficial insects. Plant specialists imported several species of lady beetles into the United States to control crop pests. The adults and larvae of most lady beetles are predators of aphids, mealybugs and scale insects.

In the fall, multicolored Asian lady beetles gather in large numbers on the outside of light-colored houses. As they gather on the house, some find cracks or holes. They use these holes to get inside. Some lady beetles enter quiet places like the attic. They hibernate through the winter and become active again in spring.

Signs of Infestation
The most troubling sign of the multicolored Asian lady beetles is the mass appearance of large numbers of adults on and around buildings. This occurs during the fall with renewed activity on warm winter days and again in the spring. The larvae may be seen on plants or outdoor surfaces but, due to their radically different appearance from the adults, may not be recognized.

Control Lady Bugs
Ladybug beetles are a problem for homeowners when they move inside our homes and other structures seeking a protected site to overwinter and then when they decide to once again move outdoors as the weather warms in the spring. When this happens, the following proactive and control actions are useful:

  • Proactive Measures – keeping them outside

    • Seal gaps and cracks where ladybug beetles may enter the structure. Pay close attention to areas such as siding, doors, windows, chimneys, ridge, soffit and gable vents and openings around pipes, conduit and utility wires

    • Repair or replace damaged window or door screens

  • Control Measures – getting rid of those inside

    • The first thing to do when dealing with ladybug beetles is to contact your pest management professional and request an inspection. Your pest management professional will correctly identify the pest insect(s) and provide a plan for dealing with the problem.

    • Some other effective and safe methods to deal with ladybug beetles are:

      • Use a HEPA filter vacuum. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag after using it.

      • Use a broom, sweep the insects into a dustpan or other container and put them outdoors

      • Use insect light traps in locations that stay relatively dark and attractive to ladybug beetles such as attics.

    • If the above methods do not work to your satisfaction, Betts Pest Control may apply the proper insecticides at the right time of the year to control ladybug beetles before they get inside your home.

How to get rid of ladybugs when they’re outdoors
During the summer, homeowners can prevent many lady beetle problems. Inspect the outside of the house carefully. Caulk cracks around windows and doors. Check the attic, roof and overhang vents. Repair any damaged screens. Check the weather stripping on all exterior doors. Repair any damaged window screens. Inside the home, patch any holes that lead into the attic.

Insecticide application on the outside of the home will act as a barrier. It will repel many of the pests that gather on the home and keep them from entering. The application should begin in the late summer. Because of temperature and other factors, the barrier will need to be re-applied periodically. Betts Pest Control has the equipment to make this treatment.

Springtail up close


Springtails are tiny insects. Their size ranges from 0.25 to 6 mm. They get their name from a spring-loaded structure, called the furcula, located on the underside of their abdomen. When the insect is disturbed, the furcula is released causing the insect to be flung into the air. One jump can cover 10 centimeters.

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Behavior, Diet & Habits
Springtails normally live in damp soil. They eat mold and fungus. They are common in flowerbeds, under logs, paving stones and landscape timbers. Woodpiles are also a common place for springtails to hide.

Springtails lose water through the surface of their body. If their environment becomes dry they tend to relocate to wetter space. They sometimes enter homes under door thresholds. When they get inside, they go to humid areas. Rooms that offer the needed moisture often are basements, kitchens and bathrooms. They also find areas where there has been moisture damage. Springtails have been found inside walls where a pipe has been leaking. They have also been found in furniture that has become wet and mildewed. Overwatered potted plants and planter boxes are also places where springtails live.

Springtails do not sting or bite people. They do not damage buildings or the contents. They develop quickly and it’s common to find them in very large numbers. The fact that there can be thousands of jumping insects in an area can be very distressing to homeowners.

When the dampness is corrected, the springtails disappear very quickly. Eliminating dampness is very important in preventing or eliminating springtails. A thorough inspection is the first step.

Signs of Infestation

  • Mildew – If springtails have been a problem in the kitchen, start inspecting under the sink. Empty the cabinet and check the drainpipe. If it has been leaking, there could be mold or mildew present. Dry the cabinet completely to discourage the springtails. If springtails have been active in the bathroom, start the inspection under the sink. Also inspect the trap behind the tub for leaking pipes. Examine tile walls carefully. If there is missing grout, mildew can develop behind the tiles.
  • Dampness – In the basement, check the walls for dampness. It may be necessary to get a waterproofing compound for the basement walls. The specialists at the home store can point out the right product. A dehumidifier can be helpful to get rid of dampness in a basement.

During the outside inspection, look for damp places where springtails could occur. Stack firewood up off of the ground and move it away from the house. Move mulch away from the foundation. Create a bare zone next to the foundation of 15 cm or more. If the zone is dry and free of leaves and mulch, springtails and other pests will not find it as attractive.

Make sure gutters are cleaned out. Downspouts should drain away from the foundation. If necessary, trim tree limbs that cause damp shady areas near the foundation.

Check exterior doors to be sure they close properly. Replace weather stripping that is missing or damaged. Check crawl space vents to be sure they are open to allow air circulation. Access openings into crawl spaces should have a door that closes tightly.

When the dampness has been eliminated, the springtails will leave quickly or they will die.