I had a pest guy come and look at our bugs and he told me they were minute pirate bugs? They are little tiny black bugs that are on the outside of our home on our doors and window screens. Usually they are just around in the fall but now we’re seeing them more. I was told it was when the farmers start harvest but this spring they are here and seem to keep getting worse. We live in Iowa by the way.
They are worse on the doors during the day and then go away at least on the doors in the evening but are still on the window screens. I also see them in the yard on various plants and I think they can bite! If these are pirate bugs, what do you recommend for treatment and how long do you think it would take for them to be gone or at least get them to where they aren’t as bad and we can actually be outside without them being everywhere? I have a toddler and a dog and I think the dog is allergic to them. Let me know, thank you.
Based on how this pest is behaving, I’m sure they’re pirate bugs. And since a local pest control technician believes that’s what they are too, let’s assume this is the target pest.
PIRATE BUG BIOLOGY
In general the pirate bug is a pest late summer and early fall. They’re predatory by nature feeding on small insects (they love larval stages of crop pests) and when farmers harvest crops many will get relocated from their natural home.
Once in the yard, they will hang around untreated plants looking for active food. People and pets in the yard will find them annoying and if you’re allergic to their touch, your skin will welt in a fashion similar to flea or mosquito bites.
Now since most insects peak in population by late summer and fall, they can literally run out of food. This causes them to migrate toward more urban, populated areas. It’s here where they encounter man and in many cases, will even sting people so you’re concern is warranted.
Now in some years they’ll get active early spring, way before there is any food present, and it appears this is happening right now for you. And when they emerge early, there is usually is no food available. So if there is no food and still some cold in the air, pirate bugs will seek any heated structure to roost and stay protected. This is why you’re seeing them on your home.
PIRATE BUG INVASIONS
In the past we’ve seen where many of these early infestations will just “disappear” as the temps rise with spring kicking in. But this might take another month or two. Worth noting is that once pirate bugs start coming around, the structures they target tend to get infested annually over and over so it’s not something you want to let develop if you see it getting worse. And in most cases once they start appearing in the spring you should expect to see them coming around in the fall too.
PIRATE BUG SPRAY FOR THE HOUSE
The good news is they’re easy to treat. Just mix up some CYPERMETHRIN and SPREADER STICKER and spray down the siding where you see activity. It usually only takes 1-2 treatments to knock them out and the Cypermethrin will repel them for several weeks as well. So if you want them gone now this is what we recommend. And if they come back next fall, be sure to treat then too or else they’ll start using your home for safe keeping during the normally cold winter. And you don’t want that happening because once that starts, some will find their way inside the home for sure.
Use 1 oz of Cypermethrin per gallon of water and plan on getting about 500 sq/ft of coverage per mixed gallon. Pirate bugs and other insects will die quickly when you spray and since Cypermethrin is highly repellent, insects will avoid treated areas.
Add Spreader Sticker to the tank mix. This additive allows the cypermethrin to penetrate the thick shell of pirate bugs which protects them well and shields them from the impact of the spray.
For gardens where you’re growing vegetables or fruit, use organic MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER. It’s approved for organic gardening so it’s safe to use on any plant that will produce an edible crop. Keep in mind this formulation does not provide any length of residual so that means within a few days of treating, it will effectively be gone. Of course, this is why it’s so good for use on fruit and vegetable bearing plants but the down side is obvious; pests can re-infest easily so be prepared to treat more frequently if you go with the organic option.
Treatments can be done with any good PUMP SPRAYER and there is no need to treat the soil so really, there should be no hazard to you or the family when the applications are done properly.
MINUTE PIRATE BUG SPRAY FOR THE YARD
For the grass, shrubs and other ground cover, spray it down with CYONARA RTS. This odorless treatment is actually labeled for vegetables gardens too so it can be used everywhere. It works quickly and can cover large areas.
1 quart will cover up to 1/2 acre and treatments will last 2-4 weeks. Renew throughout the season to make sure they don’t come back.
MINUTE PIRATE BUG REPELLENT
Lastly, to keep them off you and the pet, spray down your clothing, skin and fur with BUG OFF INSECT REPELLENT. Minute pirate bugs do not like this active and will stay away from people and pets once treated. It doesn’t take much and will last 6-8 hours so you can go out and enjoy the yard.
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