Uninvited HouseguestsMany gardeners move potted plants from outdoors to indoors in the fall to protect them from winter weather. For example you may have a potted jade plant that does fine on the deck from April to September but would die if exposed to even moderately cold fall weather. In fact, potted houseplants often do better if given this yearly exposure to outside sun and air. Be aware, however, that you may introduce some uninvited houseguests indoors by this practice. Slugs, root weevils and spiders are notorious for hitching a ride on these plants. As the plants warm up the critters become active and will often move off the plants. These houseguests (unlike some!) pose no threat whatsoever unless, of course, the spider happens to be one of the very few poisonous species in your area. So, if you find slugs or root weevils wandering across the floor this winter they probably came off the potted plant that you moved indoors from the deck in fall.
One solution is to give the plants a "bath" before moving them indoors. On a warm day in early fall hose the plants off with water then spray with insecticidal soap, wait 30 minutes then rinse with water. Allow the plants to dry completely. This procedure will also remove any dirt, aphids and spider mites that you also don't want to take indoors.
Small greenhouses are another ideal solution for protecting non-hardy plants during winter. Even if the greenhouse is unheated the enclosure will protect many plants from the harsher winter extremes. This, of course, depends on the climate, and plants involved, and will require some experimentation.
Other "uninvited houseguests", not associated wth moving potted plants around, include cluster flies, boxelder bugs and Harmonia lady beetles.
See www.LivingWithBugs.com for related and additional information about all these uninvited houseguests. Jack DeAngelis, PhD - www.LivingWithBugs.com
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