Why Do Boxelder Bugs Come Back in Spring?

Boxelder Bug swarm on wood

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:

boxelder bug

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.

Boxelder bugs entering home through a gap

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. 

Boxelder tree seeds

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.

A stack of window screens

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!

Simple Ways to Keep Pests Out

cartoon cockroach with "no" sign over it

Getting pests out of your home can be hard. Keeping them out in the first place doesn’t have to be. Most kinds of common household pests get into homes using the same couple tried-and-true infiltration tactics. It’s easy to pest-proof your home by depriving pests of ways they get in, and periodically checking for any new vulnerabilities.

If you’re interested in learning how you can pest-proof your home quickly, easily, and efficiently, start by checking off the items on this list. Following these basic steps will make it hard for even the most tenacious of pests to let themselves in.

 

Air conditioning units

Seal Around Utility Lines

Pests like ants, spiders, cockroaches, earwigs, and rodents use small gaps where your utilities enter your house to sneak in. Look for places where utility lines enter your home. Using caulk, steel wool, or an equivalent sealant, fill in the gap between your house and these utility lines.

Do this outside and inside. If you can see daylight shining through a gap, it’s big enough for a pest to fit through. Seal it up. Don’t worry–you won’t impair the function of any gas, electrical, or water lines by filling in gaps, but you will keep pests out.

 

Technician installing weatherstripping

Weatherstrip Doors and Windows

Weatherstripping acts as a cover over the natural gaps between the door or window and its seal. This cover prevents drafts and keeps cold out, but it also helps prevent pests.

Check each door and window. If you notice it’s crooked, have trouble closing it, or feel a draft, it may be time to replace the weatherstripping. Pests can chew through worn weatherstripping, so if you’re unsure at all, replace it right away.

 

crack in foundation

Seal Cracks

The number one way pests get into houses is through tiny gaps in the siding, floorboards, foundation, or walls. Mice can fit through any dime-sized opening!

Look for likely places indoors and out where pests may be able to squeeze in. Check low and high especially, as well as in corners or unfinished parts of the house. Look for holes in insulation or cracks in the flooring.

 

trimming branches

Lawn Maintenance

Yards with lawn debris such as loose leaves, fallen sticks and branches, or overgrown shrubs are attractive to a wide variety of common house pests looking for shelter and food. Spiders, roaches, and even rodents can use overgrown ornamental plants to climb onto and into your home.

Rake up leaves in the fall, gather fallen sticks, and trim bushes and shrubbery to eliminate possible sources of shelter and food for unwanted pests. Keep any firewood stored outdoors at least 10 feet away from the house. Trim trees and ornamental plants so that they never directly touch your house.

 

Throwing out trash bags

Take Out the Trash

Leaving trash out, whether it’s in the open or in bags or cans, will attract pests looking for a meal. One of the best things you can do to make your house less appealing to unwelcome guests is to take your trash out every night.

Store your trash bin at least 10 feet away from the house. Rinse out any bottles or cans before you recycle them, too. Recyclables should be taken out with the trash every night.

 

dirty dishes in sink

Don’t Leave Dishes Out

Whether it’s the moisture from the dishwasher or the debris left behind on plates after a meal, pests can’t get enough of it. Food and water on plates attract pests like crazy, especially the sugary water of soft drinks.

Wash, dry, and put away any and all dishes before you go to sleep at night. You could do this right before you take out the garbage and kill two birds (or pests, in this case) with one stone.

 

 

Pests are notoriously crafty, and it’s possible that even these pest-proof methods won’t always be enough. If you find that’s the case, give Griffin Pest Control a call. We’ll find the source of your infestation, deal with the pests, and show you how to prevent it from ever happening again.