It’s October, which means fall weather. With cooler weather, we may be going outside more to clean up our gardens or to spend time outdoors in the more enjoyable weather. However, some insects and arthropods may decide to crash our parties.

Pirate bugs

It’s still early October, but there is already a bug outside that thinks he or she is going to be a pirate for Halloween. The minute pirate bug is active and it bites us in the fall months and it is quite a painful bite.

Minute pirate bugs are the tiny, black insects that seem to fall out of the trees. The bug, which is a true bug, is a black insect with white and black wings that grows to 1/8-inch in length. The appearance of this bug is very similar to a chinch bug. The wings have an “X” on them, which is typical for insects that are true bugs.

Minute pirate bugs are present throughout the summer but they are out in fields, woodlands, and gardens. During the summer they are feeding on other insects, working as a beneficial insect. But, in the fall, these insects move into the areas where people are more often outside and they begin to bite us. When they bite us, they insert their piercing-sucking mouthpart into our skin, which can be painful. Some people may react differently and swell up from the bite, but most people just have the initial pain with the bite. Minute Pirate bugs do not feed on blood, inject a venom or transmit diseases.

Control is not practical for them as they will also die with our first frost and they don’t come inside our homes. Insect repellents do not deter them because they are not attracted by carbon dioxide, so it is best just to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to reduce areas for them to bite.

Spiders

Spiders always come to mind at Halloween as a decoration and because they become a problem inside our homes with the cool fall weather.

The most common spider that people bring into my office to be identified is the wolf spider. These are one of the largest species of spiders that we will find in Nebraska. They are quite hairy and often will have two white or lighter brown-colored stripes down the back of the spider. There are some wolf spiders that can be the size of a half dollar or more, legs and all.

These spiders are not poisonous, but they can bite. Most often, a wolf spider will not bite us, but if they do the reaction is usually similar to a mosquito bite.

Most people are concerned with brown recluse spiders. They are about the size of a quarter, legs and all and are brown with a darker brown fiddle shape on their back. They can cause a bad reaction in some people, but not all people are as sensitive to the bites. If you have brown recluse spiders in your home or office, just take the time to look around things that have been stored before you move them. These spiders are reclusive so they want to stay away from you.

Spiders are beneficial, as they feed on other insects, but not understandably desired in a home. The best way to control a spider population indoors is to seal up all cracks and crevices in your home foundation and around windows and doors to reduce the amount of spiders moving inside. You can also use the indoor/outdoor barrier sprays to spray around the foundation of your home and around the windows and doors to reduce spider populations inside your home. Finally, sticky traps are a great way to manage spider populations indoors.

Nicole Stoner is the Gage County Horticulture Extension Educator. She can be contacted at (402) 223-1384, nstoner2@unl.edu, or by visiting the Gage County Extension website at www.gage.unl.edu. Like her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NicoleStonerHorticulture, or follow her on Twitter @Nikki_Stoner.