Menomonee Falls Patch
May 2nd, 2013
By: Shane McCoy

Boxelder Bugs

We had a very strange summer in 2012. First in the spring we had lots of rain, and then we went the whole summer with almost no rain at all, with very high temperatures. Because of this boxelder bugs were able to thrive because wet summers promote a fungal disease that is important for population control. So here we are now in the spring of 2013 and those bugs that found our homes and businesses to spend the winter are coming out to play.

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Boxelder Bugs can be a real problem in the fall, but with the onset of spring they can also be a huge problem. As late winter turns to spring the adults that have survived the winter hidden behind exterior siding, attics, wall voids, window/door casings, and similar protected areas attempt to make the return trip from hiding places to trees.

Spring is the time of year when there is renewed activity by these fall invaders inside the house. Some boxelder bugs attempt to escape into the outdoors but make a wrong turn inside wall voids and move inward into living areas of homes and offices, even emerging beneath baseboards, window and door frames, light fixtures, vents, etc.

Life Cycle

Boxelder bugs lay eggs on trees in the spring. The babies, called nymphs, emerge in about 2 weeks and begin feeding on trees. The nymphs develop into adults during the summer, and lay eggs of a second generation that is active in August and September. Boxelder bugs become a nuisance when the second generation congregates on the outside of homes on sunny days in September and October. Boxelder bugs then move indoors to find a protected place to overwinter.

What to Do

Homeowners often want immediate and complete relief from these annoying invaders. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible since the bugs are emerging from hidden areas that are inaccessible to insecticides. Total release foggers or “Bug Bombs” will not penetrate into their hiding areas to kill the pests. Insecticides that do leave a residual can kill the insects but often too slowly to be considered successful. The best way to dispose of boxelder bugs indoors is with a vacuum. I know what you’re thinking, “really, vacuum?” but it remains the most practical control once they have already overwintered inside your house.

If boxelder bugs have been making a pest of themselves this spring remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Go around your house this summer and seal around entry points such as window wells, pipes that penetrate the home, holes drilled in the siding for cable, torn window screens, loose vents and exhaust fans, badly-fitting garage door entrances.

Then next fall you can apply insecticides to the outside of your home to prevent these critters from ever becoming a problem in the first place. However, a common mistake for some homeowners is not being able to reach higher areas when the insects fly to the second floor. You will have to get a ladder and treat all the eaves, overhangs, along with any and all penetration areas. This is why a professional pest control company is more effective because they have the right materials, equipment, and training. Take comfort that boxelder bugs do not damage your trees, shrubs, or your home and they also do not bite or sting people. They are a pest because of their annoying habit of gathering on the inside and out of your home in the spring and fall.

Shane McCoy is an Associate Certified Entomologist with 17 years of experience in Pest Management and is the Technical Training Director for Wil-Kil Pest Control servicing the Upper Midwest. To learn more about Wil-Kil, visit or contact your local office at 800 236-8735. Follow Wil-Kil on Facebook and Twitter (@WilKilPest).

Wil-Kil Pest Control’s Pest of the Month: Box Elder Bugs in Sun Prairie, WI

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