Fall is such a great time of year. The air has cooled and the trees are putting on a spectacular show. It is the time of year that makes us all want to start hunkering down in the warmth of our homes and settle in for the winter. Humans are not the only creatures looking for shelter from the cold – box elder beetles and many other bugs need to overwinter in the safety and warmth of a structure. If that structure ends up being on your property (including your garage, shed or home), you may have a problem.
Adult box elder’s are about a half-inch long and are usually black with red markings. Adult bugs live and breed on the leaves of box elder trees, laying their eggs in spring. They feed on the soft part of the box elder tree and extract juices from the leaves, flowers and new twigs. During the fall the beetles migrate into buildings and homes to find shelter for the winter. They find entrance into homes, buildings and sheds through cracks and openings in exterior sidings.
Exclusion from homes and buildings is the best method to stop these bugs from finding haven on your property. Cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath the wood fascia and other openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. If the box elder is able to emerge when heat sources within the building are high they will not cause damage to buildings, but their droppings are unsightly and leave stains on furniture and linens.
The University of Michigan advises avoiding these stains by following these exclusion tips.
- 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 TV wires, phone lines, and other utility wires and pipes, outdoor facets, dryer vents and similar objects enter buildings.
- Seal with caulk or for larger spaces use polyurethane expandable spray foam, copper mesh, or other appropriate sealant.
- Install door sweeps or thresholds to all exterior entry doors. Install a rubber seal along the bottom of garage doors.
If you find that box elders have already entered your home call Pest-End to eradicate the problem.