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Category: box elder

Bugs that Overwinter – Box Elder Beetles

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.



Nuisance Bugs – the Box Elder

For most of us living in the northeast this bug needs no introduction.  The Box Elder is about 1/2 inch long as an adult, black, with three red lines on the thorax, a red line along each side, and a diagonal red line on each wing. Box elder bugs feed on a variety of plants, but their favorite food is box elder seed pods, which are found only on the female box elder tree, and occasionally maple seeds.

Let’s look at some quick facts about Box Elder Bugs. . .

  • During the spring and summer Box Elder bugs feed on the leaves, flowers and seed pods of box elder and silver maples trees. Both nymphs and adults remove plant fluid from newly developing leaves that may result in distortion of the foliage.
  • In the fall, the bugs start looking for shelter in homes and other building structures.  They are especially attracted to the sun warmed (southern exposure) exterior of homes and will squeeze between siding and cracks in the home’s exterior.
  • The Box Elder overwinters as an adult in protected places such as houses until the warmth brings them out.  That warmth could merely be the heated air from the inside  of your home.
  • Box elder bug feces can stain carpet and other fabrics.
  • Box elder bugs will not bite, sting or eat food but they are very intrusive and annoying.  .

To avoid attracting Box Elder bugs in the first place –

  • seal all cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home
  • hire a pest-end for regular maintenance of all insects around and in your home.

Once the pests have invaded your home, especially in large numbers,  the best plan of action is removal.  Pest End can remove and plan for a maintenance program to stop recurrences including stopping their mode of entry into the home.  Contact Pest-End if you feel the Box Elder is a problem for you as the weather warms this spring.