Starting in early spring, boxelders re-emerge from their overwintering sites to feed and mate. The bugs re-appear so quickly every spring because they often find their overwintering sites around homes and neighborhoods. Adult boxelders begin reproducing immediately after they wake up from winter dormancy, triggering population growth all season long.
Although “boxelder season” is generally considered to be fall, you may find boxelders are equally prevalent in spring. You probably find them a little too prevalent. Unfortunately, if you have boxelders in spring, you’ll probably have them in fall… and next spring. Fortunately, you don’t have to have them in either season! By learning about why boxelders come out in spring, you can learn to keep them away from your home for good. Here’s what you should know about the other boxelder season, and what you can do about it:
Why They’re Back
Technically, it would be more accurate to say they never left! During the winter, boxelder bugs sneak into the nooks and crannies of homes, where they can stay safe and warm while they hibernate. Unfortunately, boxelders are great at getting into walls, attics, basements, crawl spaces, or floorboards. Once inside, boxelders hunker down in out-of-the-way places and stay there all winter. They’re so quiet and un-intrusive, you may forget they’re there!
Unfortunately, even if you forget about them, the boxelders are still there. In spring, boxelders wake up waiting two things: food and… uh… companionship. Boxelders mate in early spring, so their offspring will be ready to survive when next winter rolls around. Thing is, boxelder bugs have to get busy to… get busy, which means they come out in force looking for places to eat and court mates. Honestly, their spring behavior isn’t all that different from ours.
Where They’re Coming From
(Cue the horror movie music) The bugs are coming from inside the house! Any adult boxelder bugs you see this spring hibernated through the winter. Unfortunately, if you see some boxelders hanging around your place, it’s probably because they spent all winter squatting. Don’t feel bad about it–it’s more common than you’d think.
Boxelder bugs exploit even the tiniest breaches in a home’s defenses. They’ll crawl through floor cracks, squeeze through insulation, or creep under gaps in a window frame. Look in dark, warm, humid, hidden spaces. You might find them under boxes, in walls or insulation, near corners, or on window frames.
What They’re Looking For
Like we said above, when boxelders wake up they’re looking for food and mates. They’re interested in food first (priorities). Boxelder bugs got their name from their affinity for boxelder trees and other trees in the acer family, but they’re not picky. They’ll will eat just about anything, especially in early spring when they’re at their hungriest. They cling to trees, leaves, developing seedlings, or low vegetation.
After mating, boxelders want to find a place to lay eggs. The best places to lay eggs are places where the newly hatched offspring will have a plentiful food source readily available. Acer trees like boxelder, ash, and maple trees satisfy every one of the boxelder home requirements, which is why they’re so particularly appealing to the lazy little bugs.
How We Can Stop Them
It’s tough to stop boxelder bugs in spring, after they’ve already infested your home or surroundings. There are a few ways you could make your yard or building less attractive to them, however. First, perform regular lawn maintenance. Mow your lawn, trim your hedges, make sure branches or leaves don’t touch the home. If you have an acer tree, clear seed droppings regularly. If your problem is really bad, you may consider having the tree removed.
Inside, you could vacuum, sweep, and clean boxelder bug-prone spaces frequently. Vacuum the bugs up directly when you encounter them. Boxelders don’t hatch eggs inside homes, so you don’t have to worry about that. Look for places where they might be getting free food and moisture. Seal up cracks in the floor, insulation, or foundation. Consider replacing window screens annually.
Boxelder bugs are annoying and a little distressing, but they’re not dangerous. The best way to keep them away in spring is to keep them away in fall, too. Look for ways they get in and take away the things they want, and you’ll find it’s completely possible to significantly cut down or even eliminate the boxelder presence around your home.
Finally, just remember: if you’ve tried everything and you still can’t seem to deter your red-and-black nemesis, give us a call. We’ve got plenty of experience skirmishing with the vengeful “bug from beneath the basement”, and we’re happy to play your sidekick. Have a happy spring!