Boxelder bugs: Enough to drive homeowners crazy this fallThey’re everywhere. All over doors, windows, cars. They crawl up on you at the office, they show up inside your home as they try to hide for the winter, and they can really ruin a nice walk outside in those sunny mild temperatures.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
They’re everywhere. All over doors, windows, cars. They crawl up on you at the office, they show up inside your home as they try to hide for the winter, and they can really ruin a nice walk outside in those sunny mild temperatures.
The boxelder bug invasion that hit Woodbury this fall has been one of the worst, experts say.
Duane Paffel, owner of Paffy’s Pest Control, said in the 20 years he’s been in the business, he doesn't remember it being this bad.
So far this fall he has treated about 100 homes in the Woodbury, Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park areas.
The good news is, he said, we’re getting close to the tail end of it.
The bad news is, if homeowners don’t treat them now, the bugs could be hiding in wall voids until they come out again next spring.
Although they’re harmless for the most part, Paffel said if not treated, boxelder bugs can attract other creatures that are not so harmless.
“They’re trying to make it through winter and about 40 percent will die in the wall voids and provide a food source for rodents,” Paffel said.
This week’s warm temperatures will bring out an influx of boxelder bugs, then they’ll start disappearing once temperatures drop.
But they’re already starting to die inside homes and buildings once they make their way in.
“That’s the problem with those things,” Paffel said.
The mild winter and dry summer may be responsible for the large invasion of boxelders this year and it won’t be until a good hard freeze before they go away completely.
The insects feed on boxelder trees in July and start leaving them come fall to find good hiding places where they can survive through the cold winter months, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.
“Although nymphs may be present in the fall, only fully grown adults survive the winter,” the extension website states. “Adult boxelder bugs typically can fly several blocks, although in some cases they can travel as far as two miles.”
Some homes may be more attractive to boxelder bugs than others, depending on how much sun exposure the structure gets.
During the winter the bugs become inactive, but at times when the sun is out, they come out of their hiding places.
Just like when they eventually all come out of the walls, attics and cracks come spring.
The University of Minnesota Extension lists a number of ways to treat boxelder bugs while they’re out in the fall so they don’t continue to become a nuisance.
Start by keeping them from entering the home by repairing or replacing damaged windows and door screens, and seal any exterior cracks.
It’s also a good idea to seal areas where cable TV wires, phone lines and other utility wires and pipes, outdoor facets, dryer vents and similar objects enter the building.
Homes constructed with vinyl siding provide too many gaps to exclude the insects, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.
However, spraying insecticides on areas where the bugs have congregated will treat them.
For those who don’t want to use chemicals, vacuuming up boxelder bugs will help get rid of them, but this method must be done every day or two until they’re gone.
A property manager for one of Woodbury’s townhome associations encouraged residents to use a half-cup of laundry detergent with one gallon of water to eradicate the bugs.
If you see them inside, removing them with a vacuum or broom and dust pan is the best option.
“Inside homes, insecticides have limited value and are not usually suggested,” according to the U of M Extension. “Remember that when boxelder bugs are active, they do not live indoors much more than a few days and do not reproduce inside.”
Paffel had a few services scheduled last week including two next door houses in Woodbury’s Colby Lake neighborhood.
He said by spraying the insects, the chemicals help keep Asian beetles and wasps, which have also been showing up on home exteriors lately, away as well.
“If you get it all treated in the fall, then you won’t have to deal with it in the spring,” he said.