Boxelder bugs are brownish black bugs with red striped wings. Find out what they are and what to do if they are in your home.
What is it?
An insect of the leptocoris species common across the United States and often numerous in areas where boxelder trees grow.
What does it look like?
They are brownish black bugs about 1/2 inch long and have red stripes on their wings. They are found in hordes and swarm both in the home and outdoor living areas.
How does it manifest?
In the spring, female insects lay their eggs in the bark of boxelders or other trees such as maple, ash and several types of fruit trees. Young hatch and feed on twigs, foliage and seeds throughout the spring and summer months. On bright, sunny fall days the bugs migrate in large numbers seeking a place to winter. Boxelder bugs congregate on walls, furniture, drapes, outdoor walks and other indoor and outdoor areas. They will hibernate in tree trunks, homes, buildings and any other dry, protected locations such as garages and garden sheds that would provide adequate shelter.
What can you do about it?
Your best bet is to keep doors and windows screened in the fall, and fill the cracks around doors and windows and areas of the home that are open to the outdoors in the fall. Boxelder bugs can be vacuumed with any tank-type vacuum cleaner. Just make sure to destroy the bag afterward, as leaving it in the home could allow them to escape. Bugs can also be sprayed with a malathion containing insecticide or one with pyrethrins or diazinon.