Boxelder Bugs Information

Boxelder bugs are common insects, which are real nuisances in and around homes. They are predominantly found from fall through early spring. They are about half an inch long and sport three red lines in the thorax. Though they feed on a variety of plants, their favorite food is boxelder seedpods. These seedpods are found on the female boxelder trees and sometimes on maple seeds. They can fly several blocks with ease and some even have the ability to fly up to 2 miles. 

Boxelder bugs move to female boxelder trees that bear seed in mid-July in order to lay eggs on their trunks, leaves and branches. They start leaving the trees during late summer and fall to find other protected areas for the winter. The nymphs may lose their lives during winter and only the adults survive the cold weather.

If you live in an area where there are only a few neighboring buildings, then your home is especially attractive to the boxelder bugs. An isolated building can act as a magnet to these bugs. Warm areas are their favorite and they are attracted to buildings, which have large southern or western exposure. When winter sets in, the boxelder bugs enter into the cracks and any space around your home. They are active until the weather is warm. They need a wintering hibernation location and will remain inactive inside the cracks of the walls throughout the winter.

Problems caused by the Boxelder bugs:

Boxelder bugs can be a real nuisance if they enter your home. However, they do not bite or cause severe damages to property. Nevertheless, their piercing mouthparts can puncture your skin, causing mild irritation. They can stain the walls, curtains and other surfaces with their excrement. The problem becomes worse if they infest in large numbers. When they seek moisture, they may go near the houseplants, although they do not really attack the plants. In rare cases, boxelder bugs may injure indoor plants, particularly when they do not get enough food supply from other sources.

Tips to manage boxelder bugs:

It is advisable to prevent the boxelder bugs by taking some precautions:
    • You can repair or replace damaged screens in vents, roof, bathroom and kitchen fans.
    • You can take steps to fill the areas where the phone lines, cable TV wires and other utility wires enter your property.
    • You can get  damaged windows and door screens either repaired or replaced.
    • You can install door sweeps to all entry doors. This is especially important to outside doors.
    • You can even install a rubber seal at the bottom of garage doors.
    • You can seal small cracks with caulk, and copper mesh, polyurethane expandable spray other sealants are more appropriate for larger gaps.
    • You can fix door jams to prevent the boxelder bugs from entering your home.
    • Although not foolproof in getting rid of your boxelder bug problem, you can remove any nearby female boxelder trees.

      Some other guidelines to prevent boxelder bugs:

      • You can reduce the number of boxelder bugs entering your property by checking the outer surfaces for cracks and spaces.
      • The stone or brick layer of your foundation may have weep holes at the bottom of the walls.  You can buy ventilation plugs and install them in these weep holes.
      • If your home has vinyl sliding, then it may have many gaps inviting these bugs. You need to take steps to seal the gaps with a house wrap.

      Boxelder bugs treatment methods:

      If you do not get the desired results by using non-chemical methods, you need to use an insecticide treatment. You can spray the insecticide around your home in late summer and fall, as the boxelder bugs are huddling around the outside of buildings especially during this period.

      Removing the seed-bearing boxelder trees in your yard may not give an effective solution to the boxelder bugs problem. This is because the adult bugs can fly up to two miles in search of food. Insecticide treatment can be effective in such cases.

      You can spray the nymphs on the host trees so that the adult boxelder bugs do not get a chance to migrate. If you find it hard to use the power spray equipment, you can seek the help of a professional. This can help you get rid of boxelder bugs completely.


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