Watch out for boxelder bugs

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 13, 2009

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
Boxelder bugs have already emerged, causing problems after only a few days of warm weather. This insect is a menace, emerging in the fall and now in early spring, congregating on sides of homes. Many people are complaining that the insects are invading their homes, causing problems.
The insect is attracted to the seed of boxelder trees. Boxelders are actually maples found growing on roadsides and ditch banks. However, the bug also feeds on other hardwood trees.
Although boxelder bugs are associated with pests of shade trees, this insect it is considered more of a household pest. They do not bite people or harm goods, but their presence is clearly a nuisance. On warm winter days, the insects become active, moving in and on buildings, causing concern for homeowners.
Adult boxelder bugs are now emerging from their winter shelters to feed for a couple of weeks before mating. These insects prefer sunny areas and are found most abundantly on trees in a southern exposure and on sides of buildings facing south. The bug is attracted to light or pastel colors of siding or trim work.
The female boxelder deposits about 230 eggs in cracks and crevices of boxelder and other trees. The eggs normally hatch in about two weeks. The insect will amass large populations in July to early September because of two generations each season. The insects often move indoors in September and October searching for a place to overwinter.
These insects can easily move indoors, especially in older homes that are not properly sealed. Boxelder bugs are easily swept up or vacuumed up. If pesticide application is preferred, a number of pesticides are available for indoors. These include Bayer Advanced, Ortho Home Defense and Spectracide Bug Stop.
Outdoor pesticide labeled for boxelder bugs may be sprayed around windows and doors to reduce the number of bugs entering the home. Always follow the label before applying any pesticide material.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.