Box elder bugs, also known as maple bugs or politician bugs, are a common nuisance pest in American homes and backyards. Here are four things you need to know about these unwanted visitors.
What do box elder bugs look like?
These pests are fairly easy to identify. They have flat, long bodies and usually reach lengths of about 12.7 mm (0.5 in). Their main color is either dark brown or black, but they have prominent red markings on their backs that help to distinguish them from other bugs. These red markings tend to be straight lines on the sides of their bodies and the edges of their wings.
Where do they live?
Box elder bugs have a wide range within North America. They are found in southern Canada, from Alberta to Ontario, and in the United States, they're found east of the Rocky Mountains. They are generally found outdoors in habitats like meadows and forests, but they can also invade houses. This tends to happen in the fall when females move indoors to overwinter.
Why are they pests?
Box elder bugs can cause a few problems for homeowners. The first problem is that they tend to form large clusters on the outsides of homes, the sight of which can be distressing. If these bugs enter your home, swatting them with a rolled up newspaper or a shoe can make the problem worse: they produce a red dye that will stain surfaces when they are crushed. Their excrement is also known to stain indoor surfaces like walls and curtains.
Box elder bugs can also bite, though fortunately, this isn't common. You should try not to get too close to them to avoid this occurrence.
How can you control them?
To keep box elder bugs out of your house, you need to seal any openings that will allow the bugs to sneak inside. Cracks around doors, torn window screens, and other gaps allow the bugs easy entry.
There are a couple of ways to control box elder bugs that are swarming on the outside of your house. One easy and inexpensive option is to vacuum them up with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner. The downside of this method is that you need to repeat the process every day or every two days.
You can also control the outdoor swarms with insecticides. Residual insecticides are best because they will keep working for a longer period of time and save you the hassle of needing to re-apply them frequently. If you don't feel confident working with insecticides, enlist the help of a pest control company like Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services.
If box elder bugs are taking over your home or backyard, take action right away to get rid of them.