Signs You May Have a Boxelder Bug Infestation
- Seeing the bugs – boxelder bugs are rather distinct since they have black and red beetle-like bodies. These bugs are often clumped together in large colonies, meaning that if you see one in your home, there are likely more in the area.
- Seasonal changes – during the winter, boxelder bugs will be driven to warmer areas, namely inside your home.
- Boxelder tree nearby – also known as the ashleaf maple or Manitoba maple, boxelder trees often house boxelder bugs in large colonies. If there is one of these trees near your home, there is likely an infestation of bugs close by.
If you have any of the above signs of a boxelder bug infestation in your Milwaukee home or commercial building, schedule an appointment with one of our professional exterminators.
Is the Box Elder Bug the Same As the Stinkbug?
Despite what some may say, the boxelder and the stinkbug are not the same bug. The stinkbug has a noticeably broader body with a shield shape and shorter legs. Its mottled brown to green coloration makes it virtually invisible on a tree trunk. The reason people think they are the same is that both will emit a similar foul odor if crushed. Some liken it to a rotten smelling cilantro. Both types of insects do also tend to gather in warmer shelters, like your home, in order to avoid over-winterization.
Boxelder Bug Pest Traits
The boxelder (Boisea trivittatus) is a species of North American tree bug typically found on boxelder trees. Adults grow to around ½ inch long and are dark colored with red markings on the wings and abdomen.
Boxelder bugs feed on low growing vegetation and seeds they find on the ground. The primary source of food for these bugs is the sap from boxelder leaves, seeds and twigs, but they will also feed on maple and ash trees. As part of the mating cycle, the female of the species will move to seed-bearing boxelder trees around the middle of July to lay eggs, hence the "boxelder bug" name. Though boxelder bugs feed on ash or maple trees, they inflict no serious injury to the trees.
These bugs don’t harm plants, animals or humans, however, when the weather turns cold they will work their way through any little crack or opening in a home’s exterior to find a warm place to winter. The sheer numbers that take up residence in your home can be a major nuisance. About the worst damage they do is staining curtains, window ledges and walls with their excrement.
Once inside, boxelders will work their way into cracks and crevices, where they will hibernate for the winter. If their hiding place warms up enough, they think it's spring and will become active. Homeowners often find boxelder bugs congregating in warm, sunny spots such as windowsills with a southern exposure. Once out of their hibernation spots, they only live a few days. Fortunately these insects do not reproduce indoors, so you don’t have to worry about 10,000 baby boxelder bugs coming from every egg-laying female.
For more identification tips, check out our pest identifcation guide.
Milwaukee Pest Control For Boxelder Infestations
For large infestations of boxelder bugs, a professional exterminator may be necessary. This is also advisable if your home or business has a history of boxelder infestations. By treating the perimeter of your home with pesticides known to deter boxelder bugs, we can make your home less appealing to these bugs. Our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach focuses first on using non-toxic approaches to controlling and eliminating infestations. We've had great success with this approach, and customers like the idea of not having toxic chemicals around their home. Many of our organic approaches leave a residue that continues to control the boxelder population for weeks after application.
A word of advice: You can help keep boxelder and other bugs out of your home by sealing all openings with caulk and repairing any cracks or holes around the exterior walls of your home. This is a must-do for every homeowner in the fall, a time when insects and rodents will be looking for a nice, warm place to spend the cold winter months. Also, since these bugs tend to gather on south and west facing walls before working their way into any opening they can find, it's a good idea to spray those walls with soapy water in the fall.
Your Neighbors are Protected by Ehlers Pest Management
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Contact Ehlers Pest Management today for more information about our residential and commercial Wisconsin pest control services!