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Boxelder bugs can be found throughout the United States, and naturally, they are often found in yards where boxelder trees are located. These insects are also abundant on maple and ash trees, and the eastern and midwestern US sees a greater abundance of boxelder bugs than the far west. Boisea trivittata is the primary boxelder bug pest in east where they enter homes in massive numbers in order to establish warm shelter for overwintering. Homes that are located near boxelder, maple and ash trees are vulnerable to nuisance boxelder bug infestations, but the insect pests can travel a few blocks from their host tree in order to enter homes during the fall. While boxelder bugs do not inflict serious damage to trees or plants, and are not known to inflict bites, the pests do leave fecal stains on valued indoor fabrics, especially carpeting, curtains, clothing, and furniture upholstery.

Boxelder bugs are around half an inch in length and are black in color with reddish-orange wing borders. Boxelder bugs are in the habit of congregating on the outside of homes in large numbers where they access indoor areas through windows, attic vents, rooflines and small cracks and other entry points on the exterior walls of homes. Once these pests gain access indoors, they cluster together within hard-to-access locations, most notably wall voids, attic spaces, chimneys, beneath flooring, and they are known for hiding behind baseboards. In response to the cold weather, boxelder bugs remain inactive indoors throughout the winter season, but on unseasonably warm days, inactive boxelder bugs often emerge from their indoor hiding places, causing a nuisance. Once spring arrives, the pests will re-emerge and make an attempt to access the outdoor environment, resulting in yet another nuisance for occupants of infested homes. Sealing gaps, cracks and crevices on a home’s exterior walls, and spraying boxelder, maple and ash trees helps to prevent fall invasions. While it may be tempting to take a vacuum to these insect pests once they enter a home, numerous anecdotal reports claim that doing so will cause the insects to emit a foul odor that may permeate the indoor environment.

Do you have boxelder, maple or ash trees in your yard? If you do, have you ever experienced a boxelder bug invasion into your home?