If you have a boxelder tree, there is a good possibility that you have seen boxelder bugs.  These bugs are usually easy to identify by their black and red coloring.  Boxeldersemerge from hibernation and the females lay a cluster of yellow eggs on stones, leaves, grass, shrubs, trees, and even bark crevices of boxelder trees.  The eggs turn from yellow to red and will soon hatch in 2 weeks.  Once the eggs open, the adults emerge from hibernation and fly back to their host tree in late April to early May.

Host trees are usually female boxelder trees, where the boxelder bugfeeds on fallen boxelder seeds and newly developing leaves.  Occasionally, boxelders will feed on fruits from a plum or apple tree.

The boxelder bug is mainly a nuisance pest that will occasionally bite people, causing a skin irritation and producing a small red bump.  It is not recommended that boxelder bugs be crushed due to the strong, disagreeable odor that they let off when crushed.  Do not attempt to kill boxelders in any wall voids.  Dead insects, including boxelders, attract other pests such as beetles.  Instead of crushing, pull out the vacuum to get rid of them until the summer when they come out of hibernating.

The best way to treat for boxelder bugs is to start from the outside.  Have a licensed pest control professional to spray infested trees.  If the trees are not on your property, inform your neighbors of the nuisance boxelder bugs can cause.  Use both preventative physical and chemical barriers to keep boxeldersfrom your home.  Make sure to screen all vents and caulk around cable entrances, windows, doors, overhangs, facia board, etc, and install closable chimney caps.

Source: NPCA – Field Guide to Structural Pests

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