Enjoy colorful leaves, warm weather while you can
Indian summer has been defined as a period of warm weather following a hard frost. Last week, we had about three days of this really nice weather almost immediately following our first hard frost, last weekend. We even broke the record for heat on Tuesday, Oct. 18, when the thermometer hit 84 degrees in Albany! I sat outside on my deck until midnight in a short-sleeved shirt and got to see some shooting stars as a bonus. I don’t expect to be able to enjoy these conditions again in 2016.
Our fall colors were spectacular, as usual, this year, despite my concerns about the summer-long drought having a serious impact. I had to drive well over 1,000 miles this past week and the views were awesome!
However, the recent windy days, rain and cold temperatures are quickly knocking the leaves down, and, by next weekend, we will be looking at lots of bare trees. This beauty fades much too quickly each fall.
One phenomena that often accompanies Indian summer was very evident last Tuesday and Wednesday as thousands of insects suddenly woke up during the warm spell and congregated on houses and outbuildings. These insects are seeking out a sheltered location to spend the winter and your house will do fine! The main species of insects I noticed this year were ladybeetles, western conifer seed bugs, boxelder bugs and cluster flies, but I also heard of large numbers of mosquitoes suddenly appearing.
Ladybeetles or ladybugs are generally considered beneficial insects, because they feed on many different pests both as adults and even more so in their larval form. Unfortunately, the species of ladybug that has been so conspicuous here was imported from Asia and it has pretty much displaced the native species.
The ladybeetle emits an “aggregation pheromone” that attracts other ladybeetles. In some cases, they are so numerous as to cover the sunny side of a building. Most of these insects are looking for a comfortable place to spend the winter, and that means they may end up inside your house all winter in the wall voids or other refuges. When the heat is turned on, they may sometimes wake up and fly around. They can and do bite people on occasion, and, while not nearly as painful as a bee sting or as persistent as a mosquito bite, it is still pretty annoying.
The western conifer seed bug is often called a “stink bug,” because it emits a rather foul odor when disturbed. I think it smells like citrus and do not find the scent all that unpleasant. The bugs are large, awkward and ungainly, however, and slightly resemble clumsy flying cockroaches. They have a long, shieldshaped body, long legs, long antennae and what appears to be a large “W” on their back.
As far as I know, they
do not bite but they are also very unwelcome in most houses! Cluster flies look like large houseflies that often spin around on their backs resembling insect “break dancing”.
Once these pests are inside your house or in the walls and attic, there is little you can do except vacuum them up as noticed all winter. Some businesses or institutions such as hospitals have their exterior walls sprayed with a preventive insecticide in late August by commercial exterminators, and this does get rid of most of them, but I am afraid it is a bit too late for that treatment right now.
Enjoy the waning days of golden leaves, golden sunsets and, as I
am reminded each year, golden years for us seniors. Soon, I will return to Florida to fish and enjoy
the good life with my kids and Grandkids!