Fresh AfieldMore posts

Black and Orange and Bugging You

Feb 08, 2013

We either had a bumper crop of boxelder bugs last year or they’ve made an evolutionary leap in intelligence and become much more capable of getting inside my house. boxelder bugThere are always a few boxelder bugs roaming the interiors of many Missouri houses and buildings over the winter, but I don’t ever remember seeing several per day every day.

Boxelder is a native Missouri tree in the maple family. During the growing season, boxelder bugs will feed on the leaves, flowers and fruits of boxelders and silver maples. Neither of those species are considered good landscaping trees, even if not for hosting this pesky insect. Boxelder trees are seldom planted; but they spread easily through the winged seeds produced by the female trees, so they are commonly found in home landscapes.boxelder bug aggregation

During the summer, boxelder bugs lay eggs in the crevices of tree bark. These hatch into red nymphs that mature into adults by late summer. We usually first notice the bugs after the first cool days of fall, when they congregate by the hundreds or thousands on the sunny sides of trees, homes and buildings. They soon begin to look for overwintering sites to avoid the coming cold. They can fly or crawl to crevices or cracks in houses and eventually, almost magically, find their way into the living quarters where bugs are usually not welcome. Not normally active during the winter, the insides of our heated structures are like spring break in south Florida to boxelder bugs. Unlike spring breakers, they actually do little, if any, damage to people, pets or homes but most folks do tire quickly of seeing them inside.

Potential solutions to box elder bugs include removal of boxelder trees from your property, especially the female, fruiting specimens. Sealing any cracks or crevices on your home that provide access to the inside may help. Once inside, hand-picking them is probably the most efficient means of removal. I’ve never had one bite me and I don’t think they are capable of biting, but someone reading this will contact me and say they’ve been bitten. Vacuuming is also an option but hardly worth the trouble if you only see them one at a time. For a good reference on other control options, see the University of Missouri Extension document.

 

top photo:  Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org

second photo: Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

Comments

we have an infestation of boxelders at our house this winter. I am in rural North St. Francois County.

If you put water and dawn dish soap in pump sprayer and hose them down it kills them

Recent Posts

The Kids Who Were Afraid of Snakes

Feb 11, 2016

Twin Pines’ Naturalists bring a slithering sign of summer to Willow Springs elementary on a cold winter’s day.

Fly Tying

First Flies

Feb 03, 2016

There's something very special about the first fly you ever tie. It won't be your best, and it might not be your worst, but chances are it will be your favorite.

A group of hikers poses for a photo at Klepzig Mill.

The Best Kept Ozark Secret is Out

Jan 22, 2016

Find out what you've been missing out on just outside the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.