IDENTIFICATION — Chances are, you’ve noticed a swarm of these 1/2-in.-long, black-and-red insects loitering in sunny spots as the weather turns cool. And you’ve probably even hosted them in your home in fall and winter.
DAMAGE — Boxelder bugs don’t harm plants, people or property. They only swarm your home in the fall for warmth. You’ll probably notice the largest congregations on south-facing walls or pavement. But if their migration makes your skin crawl, you can help prevent them from using your home as a winter retreat.
CONTROL — These insects have long-distance stamina. They can fly up to two miles from their boxelder tree homes, so cutting down the boxelders in your yard isn’t the solution. Caulk all openings around windows and doors and in walls, siding and foundations to keep them out. The safest method of control is simply sucking them up in the vacuum cleaner. Because the insects do no real damage, insecticides may be a drastic measure. If you feel you have to, spray them with an insecticidal soap or insecticide that contains pyrethrins.