Minneapolis MN Pest Control | Box Elder Bugs

Box Elder Bug Pest Control Minnesota

For most of us Box elder bugs, (Boisea trivittatus) need no introduction. The box elder bug (BEB) is a common and well-known insect in Minnesota that are a nuisance in and around homes from fall through early spring.  However, the abundance varies greatly from place to place as well as from year to year. Box elders in particular may be especially prolific this year, thanks to a dry summer. The explosion of insects could result in an unusually intense onslaught for homeowners as the bugs make a beeline for your home.

During the summer months, Box Elder Bugs live, feed and reproduce on trees, shrubs and other plants (including box elders, maples, ashes and others).  They feed on sap from their host plants but do not cause significant damage.  BEBs become nuisance pests in the fall when they leave the plants to find hiding places for the winter.  When it gets cold at night, they find those cracks and crevices and just go right inside and hide.

During their random search, they congregate in the sunshine on the south sides of buildings, trees and rocks.  From there they stray into houses through cracks in the foundation and siding, gaps along windows and doors, and other small openings.  BEBs within walls or attics remain inactive while they are cold.  The nuisance occurs when the ones warmed by heat from the furnace or the sun become active during the winter and crawl into the rooms.

Box Elder Bugs do not reproduce indoors.  They only lay eggs on trees and other plants.  BEBs do not feed indoors.  They are sap feeding insects with a beak that can only suck liquid food (sap) from the twigs and seeds of selected species of trees and shrubs.

Box Elder Bugs are primarily a nuisance pest, annoying residents by crawling on exteriors and inside dwellings on warm fall and winter days. They also may stain draperies and other light-colored surfaces and produce an unpleasant odor when crushed, but these are not major problems. They do not reproduce during this period. They may attempt to feed on house plants but do not cause any damage.

Milkweed bugs look remarkably like box elder bugs until you compare the two together. The difference is then quite noticeable. Milkweed bugs are primarily found on or near milkweed and some other plants of the same family. Milkweed bugs are not normally found indoors-unless you have a field full of milkweed.

There is no easy way to determine when and where there will be a problem until it starts.  By then it may be too late for effective treatment. Bugs could be controlled on the trees in mid summer with insecticides labeled for use against box elder bugs on trees, but the effectiveness is limited.  Spraying large trees is difficult and tree spraying is usually impractical.

The best deterrence against Box Elder Bugs and similar invaders (e.g., crickets and attic flies) is to prevent entry by caulking and sealing possible entry sites (cracks and gaps).  Secondly, spraying to reduce the number outdoors may limit the number that will get into the house.  A lawn and garden insecticide or soapy water spray (5 tablespoons of liquid detergent per gallon of water) can be used outside on masses of bugs perched on and along the foundation in the fall.  Additional insecticides are available to professional pest control company for exterior treatment.

Unfortunately, there is no easy cure for eliminating Box Elder Bugs already inside the house.  They are generally not killed by the aerosol household insecticide products, and most residual insecticides are not of much benefit.

A sure control for bugs already in the house is to remove them as they appear by vacuuming, sweeping or picking them up and discarding. Treatment by a Minnesota pest control expert may be more effective than what homeowners can do using generally available household insecticides.  To guarantee absolute elimination of all Box Elder Bugs, your best bet is hiring an exterminator.  What you may not realize is that the ones you see are not close to the number you may have.


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