If you see a black and red oval shaped insect with black wings, chances are, you are looking at a boxelder bug. Sometime you might find hundreds to thousands on the southern side of your home, basking in the fall sunlight. They might look frightening with their red eyes and piercing, sucking mouth parts, but they are really more of a nuisance than anything else.
Are they dangerous?
Even though a boxelder bug’s mouth is slender and needle like, they rarely, if ever bite humans. You would have to really make one mad to get it to bite, and then it would be in complete self-defense. Since humans are not in their diet plan, they use their needle like mouth to drain the sap from— you guessed it—boxelder trees. When winter comes adult boxelder bugs like to find a place to overwinter, your home will is often a nice warm target. When you begin to see them in your home, you might want to avoid smashing them. Boxelder bugs can release a foul smell when squished, and the resulting exudate can stain your carpet, couch or clothing.
Will they kill my trees?
Even though their favorite food is female box elder trees, adults and nymphs will gladly suck the sap from a variety of other trees. You can find them on your maple, ash, cherry, plum, peach and apple trees. They will also attack grass, strawberries and grapes. Even with larger numbers a health plant will be able to tolerate boxelder bug attacks. If you notice thousands on your boxelder tree, you might need to help your tree and eliminate the insects.
How do I get rid of them?
Unfortunately, birds don’t eat them. Boxelder bugs taste bad because the foul smelling fluids they carry inside their body. Spiders will gladly eat box elder bugs, but the number that fall victim to spiders is small. If they are in or around your home, you won’t be able to depend on Mother Nature to get rid of them; it’s all up to you. When they are in your home, the best ways to get rid of a boxelder bug is giving it a trip into your vacuum. The tiny dust inside will clog up their lungs (insects don’t technically have lungs; rather they have tiny holes along their abdomen called spiracles, from which they pull in oxygen). To keep them out, caulk any gaps in your windows and make certain that doors and windows close tightly.
If you need to kill them in your yard, it is time to pull out the garden hose. Boxelder bugs, adults and nymphs are easy to drown. While you are watering your tree, you can spray the leaves and wash off the boxelder bugs. If you do not want to wait for the water kill them, you can add in a little bit of dish soap to increase the effectiveness. Another way to reduce the number of boxelder bugs around you home is to eliminate any boxelder trees. If your favorite shade tree is a boxelder and you want to eliminate the insect, it time to plant an oak.
If you have a box elder infestation, give Pointe Pest Control a call, let us do the dirt work.