Boxelder bugs are generally black and red and have been identified in most states of the Union. Although other insects closely related to Boxelders look similar including the milkweed bug, none are likely to congregate in huge numbers like boxelder bugs. Members of this insect family feed on woody plants and herbs. The boxelder bug got it’s name because it was found to infest boxelder trees. These trees were planted in the west as settlers wanted quick growing shade trees. The availability of the vast numbers of boxelder trees allowed the boxelder bug to flourish. It now infests many other species of trees including maples, apple and almond. It seems to target a wide range of dead insects for food but will feed up on plants, vegetables and fruit when available.
BOXELDER BUG PROBLEMS ^
Boxelder bugs become a problem when they move into your yard or home. Once they infest a tree, their population will grow from year to year. You’ll notice them congregating in massive numbers on the tree bark, limbs and the immediate ground surrounding the tree. This congregation will occur in the spring and then again in the fall. In the spring, the boxelder emerges from its winter hibernation looking for a tree or plant that will supply food for the season; in the fall it will migrate to “scented” locations on which to hibernate during the colder months of the year.
BOXELDER BUG BIOLOGY ^
Boxelder bug young hatch in early summer and grow like roaches; they develop by instars. This means they go through several stages which resemble adults but will be smaller in size. As they molt (shed their exoskeleton) and begin a new instar, they’ll become more and more like their reproducing parents.
In the fall, they will seek the south or warm side of the tree or plant they’ve been feeding on throughout the summer. As it cools even more, boxelder bugs will take up residence in nearby homes and structures naturally drawn to the radiating warmth.
Since they over- winter and do not die from year to year, a population can reach huge numbers. This “colony” will readily infest the same area from year to year once a successful winter shelter has been found. Some will migrate onto your home, up under the siding and roofing and ultimately, inside. Besides the damage to leaves, fruit and trees around the home, if allowed to infest your house they will end up invading living spaces when its too cold for them to be outside.
Expect to have them climbing walls, clinging to curtains and buzzing around lights and ceilings throughout the winter. Since most homes are heated, boxelders don’t need to “sleep” through the cold. Instead, they will forage causing discomfort and being a nuisance until the spring.
Here is a short video of one inside a home. This boxelder was filmed in the middle of winter but because it’s warm inside, they’ll stay active.
This video shows many phases of Boxelder Bugs so you can see adults compared to nymphs. All sizes will be common when you have an active infestation.
One might think that you can keep them out of the house by properly sealing up all entry points. But we have found this is usually an effort in futility. Basically most any home has so many routes of entry, its not possible to get them all. But it can help and should be done. If not to keep out bugs to keep the warm air inside.
So if you attempt to seal them out, be sure to use quality products. No doubt homes which get invaded have lots and lots of small cracks, crevices and gaps through which boxelders enter. These entry points should be reduced and/or eliminated and a good product to start with is what professionals use known as PUR FOAM SEALENT.
These cans are self charged and good for small jobs. They can put down a 3/8th” bead of sealant over 1000 feet long.
If you expect to need 2 or more cans, get the larger 25 oz of PUR FOAM SEALANT. It can lay over 1600 feet of sealant per can and will be more cost effective.
You will need a FOAM GUN when using the larger cans but they’re well worth the investment. Basically they’ll make the task a lot easier allowing for a nice, precise bead of foam to be distributed without waste.
You’ll also need some FOAM GUN CLEANER to keep the guns clean and ready to go to work when next needed.
MESSY BOXELDER BUGS ^
No doubt boxelder bugs will make a mess. Their droppings will accumulate everywhere and their eggs will appear as a series of small sacks laid 6-12 in a row. Since warm homes interfere with their natural cycles and biology, you may find them reproducing and egg laying throughout the winter. To stop them from being a pest all winter, you need to treat outside in the fall.
BEST BOXELDER BUG SPRAY ^
So to start, you need to keep them off the home. This sounds easy but it can be tricky. Most infestations start slowly and therefore can be hard to notice. But if you’ve seen them congregating on a nearby tree or active on the side of your house, you need to spray immediately.
Use CYPERMETHRIN and SPREADER STICKER for a quick kill and long lasting residual. Cypermethrin is fast acting and the Spreader Sticker will enable it to “spread” over the bugs better which enhances the overall result. Be sure to spray high up your home, preferably to the roof line, and then around windows, doors, shutters, etc. Boxelder bugs love light fixtures and will find any crack or crevice so be sure to get them all.
Next, any tree, plant or inanimate object you see them accumulating on should be sprayed too. This will reduce the active bugs in the yard wanting to nest in and around your home. By reducing these numbers you are reducing the amount that could find their way inside.
The Cypermethrin should be mixed at the rate of 1 oz per gallon of water and a mixed gallon can cover up to 500 sq/ft.
Add 1 oz of Spreader Sticker to the tank mix with the 1 oz of Cypermethrin.
And be sure to use a good PUMP SPRAYER for the treatment.
If you have to reach up over 15 feet, consider our TROMBONE SPRAYER. It can reach up to 30 feet and will save time and effort for hard to reach tree tops or structures.
LAWN TREATMENT FOR BOXELDER BUGS
Boxelder bugs will thrive in pine straw and even in the ground. They will nest just under the top layer of soil feeding on roots, sap and leaf litter. That means if you’re seeing activity on a tree, you need to treat the ground around the tree. For this treatment, the use of DELTAGARD GRANULES are well suited. Use 2 lbs for every 1,000 sq/ft. Our 20 lb bag will cover up to 1/4 acre and should be applied once a month for active problems; once a quarter for preventive treatments.
Use a traditional “push” type fertilizer spreader to apply Delta Gard. A HAND HELD SPREADER can be used too.
STRESS DETECTION GLASSES WILL REVEAL DAMAGED TREES AND SHRUBS ^
In most cases, killing the active boxelder bugs will allow infested trees or shrubs to survive. Too many times an infested tree is taken down because the homeowner suspected it would die. But just because you see a lot of bugs does not mean your tree will automatically die. In general, trees and shrubs are quite resilient. And if you give them 6-12 months following the control of the problem, you will be able to tell if they’re coming back or gone for good.
To help identify just how unhealthy they might be, a pair of STRESS GLASSES can help. These unique filtering glasses will reveal just which shrubs and trees are under duress and need attention. Be sure to treat around them with the Granules and liquid Cypermethrin to insure you get any insect that might be causing your trees a problem.
BEST LAWN SPRAY FOR BOXELDER BUGS ^
Now if you discover the activity is distributed over a large area, like 5,000 sq/ft or more, go with CYONARA RTS instead of Cypermethrin. Cyonara is closely related to Cypermethrin but it’s designed for covering large areas more effectively. And since it comes with it’s own hose end sprayer, it’s easier to apply by using the garden hose to do the spraying. Each jug is 32 oz and can cover up to 1/2 acre. And it works on a wide range of pest too, not just boxelder bugs.
BEST BOXELDER BUG SPRAY FOR IN THE HOME ^
If the boxelder bugs have already moved inside and have started to be annoying in the home, you’ll need to get them where they’re nesting. This will usually be in the wall under an electric outlet cover or around a window frame. It could also be in a chimney or light fixture. For rooms where you’re unsure of where they’re nesting, PT-PHANTOM AEROSOL is a good option. It uses an active which insects will not detect and will readily walk over. The active doesn’t act quickly but instead will take 3-4 days to kill. But when one bug picks up some active it will in turn “transfer” the chemical to other bugs. This is very helpful because when it does kick in and start to work, it will many times kill many bugs even if just 1-2 walked over the treated area.
Phantom has virtually no odor and goes on relatively dry when used properly. Use it on window sills, door frames and basically spot treat anywhere you see them active. Retreat every 2 weeks until the problem is gone. It will usually take 4-6 weeks for all nests to die off.
Now if you know exactly where the boxelder bugs are hiding and have found them using the same areas over and over again, the FS MP AEROSOL might be the better treatment to use. Its fast acting and will kill in seconds. Since boxelder bugs can congregate in big numbers, having a fast acting killing agent is sometimes handy and FS MP is made for this need. It comes with a crack and crevice straw for hard to treat voids and will both flush and kill immediately. Use it every 2 weeks to make sure the treatment is fresh – especially for outside areas which are subject to the weather.
BOXELDER BUG ZAPPERS ^
Once you treat, only time will enable the application to kill off the problem. If you got them before winter, there is a good chance you won’t have them all winter long. But if they’re already inside living rooms, keep a vacuum handy. Alternatively, we have a couple of devices that are both handy and effective at removing single boxelder bugs one at at time.
First, the HAND HELD ZAPPER c is a powerful tennis racquet looking device that will kill any bug in seconds. Its handy because it works within a few seconds and can be kept discreetly out of sight. But when needed, its ready to go with a push of a button.
The second option is the BUG VACUUM ZAPPER. This device is the “humane” option. It features a long extension tube so you can vacuum up the boxelder bug and once captured, decide its fate. You can “fry it” by using the built in zapper or take it outside and let it go to live another day. You control its destiny.
Treating for boxelder bugs before they move into the wall voids of your home is the best way to stop invading populations. Expect to see them grouping in the fall as they prepare for their winter hibernation. Treat these congregations with Cypermethrin for quick control. If they have already established themselves inside, you will need to treat outside populations with cypermethrin, exterior wall cracks with Drione Dust and interior entrance cracks with PT Phantom. This practical approach will stop new infestations, force them away from your beneficial trees and shrubs in your yard and keep your home from becoming their winter play ground.
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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