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What Are Boxelder Bugs?

While autumn brings cooler weather and pumpkin spice, it can also lead to bugs in your home. Though many insects seem to disappear after summer, some hide away in warm locations including your home. One of these uninvited guests is the boxelder bug. We’ve gathered information about boxelder bugs to help you identify and eliminate an infestation.  

Appearance

Boxelder bug

Boxelder bugs have a black body with reddish-orange markings. Adults grow up to ½ inch in length. They are flat and have an oval shaped body. Their wings allow them to fly up to several miles to find a suitable spot to overwinter. Boxelder bug nymphs are similar in appearance to adults. However, they are smaller and lack wings and black markings when they first hatch. During the nymph phase, they will molt five times. They develop dark areas after each molting. Boxelder bug eggs are oval in shape and transition from yellow to reddish-brown over time.

Habits

Boxelder bug on plant

Boxelder bugs are named after their preferred food source—boxelder trees. During warm months, these bugs hang out on and near boxelder trees. They eat leaves and seeds from these trees. They also lay their eggs on leaves, which will hatch within two weeks. Though boxelder bugs prefer boxelder trees, they will also feed on maple and ash trees. When temperatures begin to decrease, they start looking for safe places to overwinter. Boxelder bugs gather in large numbers on the sunny sides of buildings. Then they move inside sheds, garages, and homes until winter is over. Boxelder bugs are native to the western region of the United States, but can be found throughout the country.

Threats

Boxelder bugs

The main problem with boxelder bugs is their large numbers. Hundreds of boxelder bugs can migrate to the same location to wait out the winter season. If the house is warm enough then the bugs will begin to emerge in your home. Boxelder bugs aren’t known to bite, but very rarely can puncture skin causing an irritated, red mark. Their droppings can cause red stains on furniture, curtains, or clothing. When they feed on trees, they can cause discoloration or leaf curl. However, it shouldn’t affect the overall health of the tree. If these bugs end up in your home, you won’t want to crush them. When smashed or disturbed, they release a foul odor. This helps to protect them from potential predators.

Warning Signs

Boxelder on leaf

Spotting boxelder bugs is the best indication of an infestation. These bugs could be spotted on the exterior or interior of your home. They gather on the side of buildings and homes towards the end of summer. When temperatures begin dropping, they start slipping inside. Hearing buzzing noises in your home can also be a warning of an infestation. If boxelder bugs have found their way into your house, you may begin noticing their droppings. These will often leave red stains on furniture and fabric like curtains or clothing. Boxelder bugs release an unpleasant odor when they are crushed or they feel threatened. This can act as a warning sign of a boxelder bug infestation.

Prevention

Caulking near window

One of the best ways to avoid a boxelder bug infestation is to take preventative measures. Boxelder bugs can easily slip inside small holes. Check and repair any damaged window or door screens. Seal cracks and crevices and fix loose siding. You’ll also want to pay attention to your electrical outlets because they are common entry points. These bugs look for places they can hide and find warmth. Keep woodpiles away from your home and eliminate leaf debris. Boxelder trees are the main attractant of boxelder bugs. If you decide to plant one of these trees, make sure it is non-seed-bearing. If boxelder trees are already in your yard and you don’t want to remove them, remove any of the seeds that fall. This will make your yard less appealing to boxelder bugs.  

Treatment

Maggie's Farm Simply Effective Yard Bug SprayMaggie's Farm Simply Effective Home Bug Spray

Even if you don’t have boxelder trees in your yard, boxelder bugs will travel several miles to find a place to overwinter. If they choose your home, there are things you can do to treat an infestation. Indoor and outdoor action can help you take control of the infestation. If you spot boxelder bugs on the exterior of your house, you can use a hose to remove them. You can also spray down trees with boxelder bugs. Using an outdoor spray, like Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Yard Bug Spray, can help you fight an infestation while also providing you with residual repellency. If these bugs sneak inside your home, Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Home Bug Spray can be used to control the infestation.

Dealing with an unwelcomed house pest is never any fun. Keeping bugs out of your home begins with preventative action. Taking the time to seal entry points can help prevent an infestation. If boxelder bugs or other pests have invaded your home, we want to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Pest Control products.  


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