Get ready for the boxelder invasion | Way of life
When the weather starts to cool, many insects start looking for a place to spend the winter. Some insects, including the boxelder bug and ladybugs, become a nuisance when they decide to move into our homes. Now is the time to prepare to help minimize the problem later.
Adult boxelder bugs are about 1/2 inch long, black with orange or red markings, including three stripes on the prothorax, the area just behind the head. Their wings lie flat on their body, overlapping to form an “X”. Immature nymphs are 1/16 of an inch long and are bright red when they first hatch. As they age and get bigger, they are red and black.
Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to prevent boxelder bugs from entering your home:
- Repair or replace damaged window and door screens.
- Repair or replace damaged screens in roof and soffit vents, and in bathroom and kitchen fans.
- Seal areas where cable television wires, telephone lines and other utility wires and pipes, outdoor faucets, dryer vents and the like enter buildings.
- Seal with caulk or for large spaces, use polyurethane foam spray, copper mesh or other suitable sealant.
- Install door sills or thresholds on all exterior entry doors.
- Install a rubber gasket along the bottom of the garage doors.
You may want to supplement non-chemical methods with an insecticide treatment around the exterior of your home, especially if a large number of boxelder bugs are present and / or if you have a history of boxelder bug infestations. The best time to spray is late summer and fall, when boxelder bugs first congregate outside buildings.
You can treat your own home using an insecticide labeled for the exterior of buildings. Examples of common names of publicly available active ingredients are bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, lambda cyhalothrin, or permethrin. Also make sure that the product indicates that it can be used outside or outside of buildings. Look for this information under Instructions for Use. Caution: Read all label directions very carefully before purchasing and applying any type of insecticide. The information on the label should be used as the final authority.
Once the boxelder bugs are found in your home, the best option is to physically remove them with a vacuum cleaner or a broom and dustpan. If this happens in the fall, check around the exterior of the building, as they can often congregate in sunny or warm areas. If they are near entryways, an insecticide may be needed to prevent them from entering a home.
Inside homes, insecticides are not recommended because boxelder bugs do not live very long. Keep in mind that when boxelder bugs are active, they don’t live indoors for much more than a few days and do not breed indoors. When they emerge from walls and other sites where they have slept during the winter, spraying insecticides does not prevent their return either.