Now that fall is nigh and cool weather comes to Phillips County, it is important to remember to insect proof your home.

If you are like me, you are annoyed when beetles, boxelder bugs, crickets, stinkbugs, spiders or any of the various other million or so different insect pests invade your home this time of year in an attempt to escape the cold weather outside.

The first thing most people think of when trying to prevent an insect problem is, "What insecticide do I spray?" Well, just hold on, there are other things that should be done first that will help prevent the pest problems and may even eliminate the need for an insecticide application.

Insect proofing your home is the best way to prevent unwanted pest invasions this time of year. There are some pest proofing steps to follow to stop these invaders. First, try to eliminate entryways used by pests. Things to consider outside the home include inspecting and repairing all caulking, weather stripping, screens, loose siding, and use residual insecticides around the foundation of the home.

Try to eliminate areas that can harbor insects inside the home. In other words, places where insects can rest and hang out or find food and moisture. Things to consider include seal indoor cracks and crevices, eliminate leaks and moisture, store food properly; and keep lids on garbage cans. If the listed maintenance and sanitation guidelines are carried out, pests will be discouraged or prevented from invading in the first place. However, if nuisance pests do get inside in large numbers, they can be vacuumed up and the vacuum cleaner bag can be discarded outside. You can also line the vacuum cleaner hose with a stocking and insects will be conveniently bagged. When insects are present in high numbers, no insecticide is recommended! Many insects will die in inaccessible places making clean up impossible and these dead insects will serve as a food source for other pest insects like carpet beetles or other dermestid beetles.

Now if insects are present in low numbers, pests can be swept up into a dust pan and removed by hand. Or if the home owner chooses, they could use an over the counter aerosol insecticide, spraying the insect directly and then removing the dead insect by hand.

Homeowners may also wish to use over the counter residual insecticides labeled for crack and crevice and/or surface treatment. This will provide relief for low numbers of insects only and should never be relied on with high numbers of invaders present.

Insect proofing or preventing nuisance pests from gaining entry in the first place is the best control strategy for insects trying to invade your home to escape the cooling weather. To learn more about insect proofing your home, contact the Phillips County Extension Service at (870) 338-8027or go to our website at www.uaex.edu.