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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.  

What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?

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.

What Do Boxelder Bug Nymphs Look Like?

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.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

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.

Why Are Boxelder Bugs in My House?

When temperatures begin to decrease, boxelder bugs start looking for safe places to overwinter. They gather in large numbers on the sunny sides of buildings. Then they move inside sheds, garages, and homes until winter is over.

Are Boxelder Bugs Dangerous?

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 your 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.

Signs of a Boxelder Bug Infestation

Boxelder on leaf

Being able to identify an infestation is the first step to getting rid of boxelder bugs. Check out a few signs that these pests have invaded your home.

  • Spotting Boxelder Bugs: Seeing boxelder bugs is the best indication of an infestation. These bugs can be found on the exterior or interior of your home. They gather on the side of buildings and houses towards the end of summer.
  • Buzzing Noises: Hearing buzzing noises in your home can also warn of an infestation.
  • Droppings: If boxelder bugs have found their way into your house, you may notice their droppings. These will often leave red stains on furniture and fabric like curtains or clothing.
  • Odor: 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.

How to Prevent Boxelder Bugs

Caulking near window

The best way to avoid a boxelder bug infestation is to take preventative measures. Here are a few tips to keep these bugs away.

  • Seal Entry Points: 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.
  • Keep Your Yard Clean: These bugs look for places they can hide and find warmth. Keep woodpiles away from your home and eliminate leaf debris.
  • Watch Your Trees: Boxelder trees are the main attractant of boxelder bugs. If you decide to plant one of these trees, make sure it’s non-seed-bearing. If boxelder trees are already in your yard, remove the seeds that fall. This will make your yard less appealing to boxelder bugs.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Yard Bug Spray and 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.

  • Spray Them Away with a Hose: 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 that are infested with these pests.
  • Protect Your Plants: If you notice these bugs on your trees or plants, our Beetle & Boxelder Bug Killer can help to control boxelder bugs and other pests. 
  • Create a Protective Barrier: Using a plant-based insecticide spray, like our Yard Bug Spray, can help fight an infestation. It kills bugs on contact while also providing you with residual repellency. This helps to create a protective barrier that keeps boxelder bugs out of your yard.
  • Use a Plant-Based Insecticide Spray: If these bugs sneak inside your home, our Home Bug Spray can help control the infestation. It kills and repels boxelder bugs. You can also spray near entry points to help deter them from entering.

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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