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Are Boxelder Bugs actually Dangerous?

In your Chicago area home, boxelder bugs might not be on your radar as a dangerous element lurking around on an autumn moonlit night. But in the fall, these critters can swarm in by the hundreds or more. You might find them crawling around your landscaping or the sides of your house, up and down your windows, or even inside your home. They don’t pack a sting, but they can cause a boxelder bug infestation inside your home, causing stains, getting in the way, and generally being a massive problem. Although they aren’t high on the danger list, they can be a nuisance around your home, especially when the bugs cluster in large numbers in the Chicago area in the autumn.

Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs are flat, oval-shaped insects about ½ inch long with black and red markings around the wings. Boxelder bugs (Boisea rubrolineata, or their sister species, Boisea trivittata) are considered “true bugs” because of their small mouthparts. They are plant eaters and usually hang around the trees that produce their favorite sources of food. The box elder tree, maple trees, and ash trees produce seeds in the spring that these little critters love to eat. They are also found feeding on fruit like plums, peaches, or apples, but generally hang around their favorite boxelder trees or maples.

Around March or April, boxelder bugs awaken from hibernation in search of leaves, fruits, or seeds. In the springtime, you might notice the yellow or orange egg clusters gathered along the cracks of the nearest maple trees or female boxelder trees. The female boxelder bugs lay their egg clusters in the spring, which germinate for 11-19 days and hatch into bright red nymphs (baby boxelder bugs). Boxelder nymphs will feed voraciously on the host tree until they gain their adult coloration and size, but until then, they are often mistaken for mites or large ticks.

Boxelder bugs are overwintering pests, so in late fall, to prepare for winter hibernation, they bask in the sun on the south side of trees, rocks, sidewalks, or the siding and windows of your Chicago area home. These gatherings become massive because boxelder bugs have very few predators willing to risk the stinky scent they emit or the feces they smear on a predator. When they are severely agitated by birds, dogs, cats, or a human hand, they can emit a nasty smell for survival, and can even smear you with their foul-smelling, yellowish feces. Although they mostly use their mouthparts for chewing leaves or fruits, if threatened, they can bite on rare occasions. The area can swell and grow red, much like a mosquito bite. If you are bitten and experience a severe reaction, seek medical attention. Some dogs or cats might lap up a few boxelder bugs now and then, but the boxelder bug’s nasty flavor and strong feces could make your pet vomit. If your pet swallows one of these pests and vomits, consult your veterinarian.

After bathing in the autumn rays before winter is the Chicago area, boxelder bugs grow cold enough to seek shelter in a warm place. Your comfortable Chicago area home is the perfect spot for them to bed down for the winter, leading to a potentially severe pest management problem.

Boxelder Bug Infestation

As winter moves into the Chicago area, so do boxelder bugs. Any home in the Chicago area has plenty of entry points for box elder bugs to move inside. This nuisance pest crawls along baseboards, ceiling moldings, window sills, or even your kitchen counters. If the boxelder bug infestation is severe, it is possible (but rare) for them to infest the inside of your walls, between the wall studs and inside the wall insulation. You know you have a severe infestation with boxelder bugs inside the walls when they emerge from outlets, light fixtures, or other cracks and crevices inside your Chicago area home. Whether between the walls, on window sills, or another place inside your Illinois home, their feces leave yellow or orange stains on curtains, carpets, clothing, walls, floors, etc. If you smash them, their bodily fluids will leave a stain that stinks and is hard to get out of fabrics.

If you have boxelder bugs inside your walls, never try to control this severe boxelder bug infestation on your own. Over-the-counter pesticides will only force them deeper into the holes between your walls. If they do die, their bodies will dry out and cause bacterial infestation and can attract other bugs to infest your walls and eat the bodies of the dead boxelder bugs.

If you think you might have a severe boxelder bug infestation inside the walls, seek help from a pest professional. Fox Pest Control has commercial-grade products that will force the boxelder bugs to flee from the walls, prevent them from returning, and eradicate the problem for you to provide peace of mind.

Boxelder Bug Control

Control this nuisance pest around your home on your own with these do-it-yourself precautions. Prevent a boxelder bug infestation before infestation control is required. Boxelder bug control requires some time and a few materials, but these can be effective to control get rid of boxelder bugs.

  • Vacuum them up. Squishing them will only smear their bodily fluids and leave a stain. Seal the vacuum bag in a plastic garbage bag and freeze them overnight. Then your vacuum bag is safe to use again. Doing this will prevent them from crawling out of the vacuum and reinfesting your Chicago area home.
  • Seal cracks in your home. Using silicone caulking from your local department store, seal exterior cracks and crevices around door and window frames. Take special care to seal any gaps along your home’s foundation.
  • Repair or replace door and window screens. Any holes in door or window screens are a prime entry point for boxelder bugs. Also, be sure to seal any gaps between the screen and the door or window frame. Use caulk if necessary.
  • Install door sweeps or winter stripping. The gaps under any window and door will allow the boxelder bugs to enter. Door sweeps and winter stripping will help keep them out.
  • Wash them off. It might sound weird, but it works on the outside of your Chicago area home. Mix 1-2 teaspoons of dish soap with 1 gallon of water. With a hose attachment or spray bottle, spray the clusters of boxelder bugs when they gather on your car, siding, windows, landscaping, etc. This method is a clean and easy way to remove an infestation. The soap breaks up their cuticle, or exoskeleton, and washes them away. But this soapy solution only controls boxelder bugs when sprayed on contact and does not act as a residual insecticide to kill boxelder bugs. If more return to the same area, this solution provides no residual deterrent.

Choose Fox Pest Control

Although boxelder bugs aren’t going to mug you in a dark Chicago area alley, they are expert home invaders. They cluster around homes and bask in the sun during the fall before they overwinter in your comfortable Chicago area home. They rarely bite, but they pack a nasty stench and powerful stain. Remember, if you suspect this nuisance pest is inside your walls, do not attempt to get rid of boxelder bugs yourself. Call Fox Pest Control. We’ll send our well-trained technicians to flush boxelder bugs out from their hiding holes in your walls. Prevent or control a boxelder bug infestation with Fox Pest Control professionals. When you think pest control, think Fox Pest Control.

Posted on November 27, 2019.

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