5 Steps for Removal and Ways to Prevent Infestation of Boxelder Bugs
If you live in the vicinity of boxelder, maple, or ash trees, you have probably encountered a boxelder bug, especially in the early fall. They are a distinctive looking bug, so identification is easy. The boxelder bug is about ½ an inch long, brownish black with red markings along the edges of its wings. They have six legs and two antennae. The nymphs, or juvenile boxelder bug, is bright red. To scare away predators, it will emit an obnoxious odor when threatened.
Why Should You Care?
Boxelder bugs feed on the seeds of these trees. They hate cold weather and who can blame them? You will see them sunning on the side of trees, houses, barns, and rocks. But when it turns cold, look out! These little bugs are on the prowl for a warmer place to winter. They can sense temperature change of even 1 degree and will continue moving to a warmer spot until they are comfortable.
These little critters will burrow into cracks in your house. Cracks in walls, roof, or foundation are easy ways to escape the cold. If they are lucky, the break might lead them all the way into the house where it is nice and warm. They will invade your home, your garage, your shed…anywhere that is warmer than outside. They may even choose to winter in your house! Boxelder bugs do not make good roommates!
Once they get in, they will emit a scent that will attract others. Their entire extended family will move in for the winter! If you find yourself in this predicament and need professional assistance to eradicate the little pests, call Environmental Pest Management whose master licensed technicians will safely and permanently solve the problem.
Are Boxelder Bugs Harmful?
Boxelder bugs are not harmful to people. They don’t bite or sting, but they are a complete nuisance and will cause significant damage to your home. Boxelder poop is red, just like they are, and wherever a boxelder bug goes, a boxelder bug poops. It’s the nature of the beast.. or bug. These colorful little roommates will likely destroy your carpet, curtains, and the contents of your closets. Little red splotches will stain anything they touch, and when you have an invasion, everything in your home is a candidate for red poop stains.
As if this isn’t bad enough, other bugs and beetles will enter your home to feast on dead insect carcasses, so insecticide is not a good option. If they get into your ventilation system, they can cause serious mechanical issues to your furnace and air conditioning systems. These bugs definitely have to go, but how do you do that? It’s not like you can serve an eviction notice.
Steps to Remove Boxelder Bugs in Your Home
The best tool to clean them out of your home is your vacuum. They move fast so you’ll need to have it ready to go. Just suck them up with the hose attachment. The neighbors may wonder what is up when they see you scampering around with the hose up in the air, but soon enough they will be doing the same thing!
When you think you have captured them all, don’t just put the vacuum away. These little stinkers are still alive! Remove the bag, seal it up and throw it away. If you want to reuse it, you have the option of freezing it overnight. The bugs will be dead; empty the bag and reuse it.
You can pick up stragglers by hand. Put on gloves and pick them up. Be gentle with them. When threatened they may emit a little stink cloud. If you squish them, they will leave a red stain behind. It may be best to pick them up and bag them until you can dispose of the bag.
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Sweeping is useful if they are outside your building. Sweep, scoop, and dispose. Just remember they are still alive, so best to seal them up in a bag before disposal. If you don’t want to kill these bugs, you can always catch and release, but be cautious as these same bugs will re-enter your home, given a chance.
Kill the bugs. You can use insecticide outside where it’s not as risky to leave dead bugs. Some claim a soapy water mixture of five tablespoons of laundry soap to a gallon of water and spray it on them. Others argue this is a myth and is not effective, but the jury is still out on that.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Once boxelder bugs have invaded your home, it is challenging to get the situation under control. The best thing you can do is focus on prevention. Below are a few simple things you can do to avoid a boxelder bug infestation.
Screened Windows & Vents
Replace missing screens, and repair any tiny holes since boxelder bugs can squeeze through a 1/8 inch opening.
Make sure there are screens on all the vents. Unscreened vents such as a dryer or bathroom vents are a flashing neon welcome sign for these bugs. Don’t forget to screen soffit or attic vents. They are often overlooked and are a natural access point for a cozy winter home.
Seal Spaces Entering Home
Use silicone to seal the space around pipes, cables, and utility lines. If not sealed completely, these are entry points for boxelder bugs to invade your home.
Install Door Sweeps or Thresholds
Outside doors have a natural bug entryway at the bottom. Installing a door sweep or threshold will close off that entry point. A door sweep is screwed to the bottom of your door, as opposed to a threshold which is mounted on the floor beneath the door. CAUTION: Be careful with a threshold as it can be a tripping hazard.
Cracks in your home, i.e., walls, roof, foundation, are an easy entrance to your home and sealing these cracks will prevent access. Use a sealant that is appropriate for the specific building materials. Pay particular attention to areas where different types of materials meet as this is a typical gap area.
Boxelder bugs are considered a nuisance bug, but as you can see, people who have an invasion would consider it much worse than a nuisance. These simple measures will go a long way toward keeping boxelder bugs out of your home.
Environmental Pest Management is proficient in boxelder bug eradication techniques.