Boxelder bugs are named for the boxelder tree, their primary host. Boxelder bugs do unusual damage to apples, peaches, oranges, tomatoes, plums and non-fruiting plants, including maple and ash, one of the least damaging agricultural pests. They search and enter homes in clusters of hundreds, perhaps thousands of insects as cold weather approaches, collecting in walls and warm cellars, making themselves at home in the winter and sometimes appearing in kitchens, dining quarters, bedrooms and other human-inhabited areas, a greater annoyance to homeowners. There’s nothing like seeing your toddler put to her mouth a stray, otherwise harmless boxer bug that finds its way through the carpet. It’s an experiment that kids would typically not replicate. When disturbed or crushed, Boxelder bugs, while often scentless, give off a pungent odour.
Boxelder Bug Infestation
Box elder bugs are sap suckers, with their considerable proboscis entering plant tissue and using secretions to make it consumable. They feed almost entirely on the acer family of maple trees and vines that include the boxelder and its spinning “helicopter” seed pods, although during dry summers they have also been known to feed on fruit. Box elder trees infestations may cause the leaves to yellow and curl or leave spots on stems and fresh growth. The bulk of trees survive. Damage is often cosmetic to apples, peaches, and other soft fruits, arising as depressions, often as bruises. Boxelder bugs, though a pest, do comparatively little harm to fruit crops, choosing to feed and procreate in their namesake tree.
Bugs can be a big concern indoors. While they typically do not inflict structural damage to homes or contaminate food supplies (individuals sometimes turn up in dried beans and flour if not kept in securely sealed containers), due to their sheer numbers, they may be a source of filth, odour and disappointment. Warm weather or a rise in home heating will persuade individual boxer bugs that spring has come and, in need of a way out, they can invade the living room of a household. Then they assemble in clusters in late summer and autumn, just like swarms of bees on the sun-facing, ideally white side of homes and garages where, if allowed to linger, their overwhelming numbers would discolour the side of the house.
Most exposure to outdoor boxelder is minor and will not need care for most years, most years. More boxelder bugs will be developed in some years than others. Dry years can motivate the bugs to look for berries. In the dispersal of flying boxelder bugs, wind plays a major part.
How to get rid of Boxelder Bugs
A bad choice for boxelder infestations is chemical pesticides. Their indoor usage can be a threat. Colony dusting will kill thousands of bugs, but only other insects and rats that feed on dead bodies would be encouraged. Dead boxelder remains are drawn to the widespread and problematic carpet beetle. It feeds and lays eggs there, ensuring damage to another generation with higher numbers in your houses.
Contact Benlux Hygiene to control boxelder bugs.