Boxelder bugs bugging you? At least they can’t hurt you or your plants

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2013

SALISBURY — It’s a little early in the year for boxelder bugs, but some homeowners have already called complaining about the home-invading insect. This insect is a menace emerging in the fall and now in early spring, congregating on sides of homes. Many are complaining that the insects are invading their homes, causing problems.

The insect is attracted to the seed of boxelder trees. Boxelder trees are actually maples found growing on roadsides and ditch banks. But the bug may also feed on other hardwood trees with little damage.

Although boxelder bugs are associated as pests of shade trees, this insect is more commonly a household pest. They do not bite people or harm goods, but their presence is clearly a nuisance. On warm winter days as we generally experience, the insects become active, moving in and on buildings causing concern for homeowners.

Adult boxelder bugs emerge from their over-wintering shelters to feed for a couple of weeks before mating. These insects prefer sunny areas and, therefore, 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 for over-wintering. 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. Outdoor pesticide applications around windows and doors may reduce the number of boxelder entering the home. As with using any pesticide, always follow the label before applying any pesticide material.

Contact Darrell Blackwelder at 704-216-8970.