Minnesota Pest Control | Box Elder Bugs

Box elder bugs, Boisea trivittatus, are familiar insects in Minnesota. They are generally not noticed during summer, but often can become an issue when they try to move into homes during fall as they search for overwintering sites.  During late summer and fall, box elder bugs start to leave the trees from where they were feeding to find protected areas for the winter. Although nymphs may be present in the fall, only fully grown adults survive the winter. Adult box elder bugs typically can fly several blocks, although in some cases they can travel as far as two miles.

Some homes are especially attractive to box elder bugs, while neighboring buildings may have few. This usually depends upon the amount of sunny exposure a building receives.  Box elder bugs like warm areas and are attracted to buildings with a large southern or western exposure. Buildings standing taller than surrounding structures or standing isolated on flat ground can also attract large numbers of box elder bugs. Color does not appear to influence box elder bugs as they are found on buildings of all hues.

Box elder bugs looking for overwintering sites on a home.

As the weather cools, box elder bugs push into cracks and spaces around homes. In some cases they end up in the interior of buildings where they are often found around windows. They remain active until it becomes cold, which could continue into winter when the weather is mild. While you may see persistent numbers of these bugs, individuals are short-lived, only surviving for a few days up to a week. Other box elder bugs end up in sheltered areas in walls, attics and similar areas where they remain until it warms up.

During winter, box elder bugs are generally inactive. However, during mild, sunny days, box elder bugs become mobile with the increased temperature. They enter a home’s interior from overwintering areas within the home, e.g in walls or attics. As they wake up, they follow the warmth into the home’s living quarters. Once there, they typically move towards windows and other sunny areas. However, the warmth does not reach the insects equally and they do not all become active at the same time.

Adult box elder bug

Eventually by spring, all the surviving box elder bugs that overwintered inside buildings become active. They try to move outdoors but many remain trapped inside. Despite the circumstantial evidence, they do not reproduce in homes — all the box elder bugs seen inside during winter and spring entered buildings the previous fall.

Chances are box elder bugs are already creeping into a space near you this fall. Every year, right on time, they come out from their nests with a vengeance. Hundreds, thousands, swarms and swarms of beady, red little eyes and poking, prodding, peeking antennae, up over porches, plastering across the window panes, lining every door and crevice of every house across the entire state of Minnesota, they fly, perch, crawl, creep, zoom slowly and ominously around you as you try to make your way out of the house.

Their red and black wings spread straight out, their bodies vertical much like a lightning bug, and they hover and circle and dip and dive, and when they land they scuttle and scuttle and scuttle. They’re everywhere. You can’t escape them. The lawn is blanketed with their babies, little red dots with six, tiny legs. They like buildings to hibernate in, so they flock to the sides of them, and they wait for the opportune moment when an innocent human comes walking out of their door to then take flight and find their way into your home.

A nemesis, the box elder bug, is present in large numbers this year.

While box elders could be abundant in 2012, it still won’t be as severe as 1988, which was the last record year.  But after a hot, dry summer some experts are saying that bloated pest populations could become a big pest problem for Minnesota homeowners. The weather has a lot to do with that as years of hot, dry summers are very favorable for their development and we often experience much larger populations of them then.

The more you can prevent from entering your home during fall, the fewer you will deal with later. To guarantee absolute elimination of all Box Elder Bugs your best bet is hiring a Minnesota Pest Control Expert. What you may not realize is that the ones you see are not close to the number you may actually have.

Fall is also the time of year that mice and rodents tend to make an appearance inside homes. Like bugs, house mice and deer mice are seeking out a warm place to live for the winter. But unlike bugs, rodents pose a threat to humans in that they can spread diseases and cause damage to homes.

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