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Boxelder bugs – it’s a Utah thing

Boxelder bugs are native to North America but are particularly numerous in states where there are lots of boxelder, maple and ash trees, including Utah. The bugs are around 0.5” or 1cm in length and have a black or brown back with red wing tips. Boxelder bugs have 6 legs and two long antennae. 

Boxelder bugs are often mistaken for stink bugs which look very similar, with a mottled brown back and shield-like shape. They are also confused because, despite belonging to the so-called “scentless plant bugs”, boxelders also give off a strong odor intended to discourage predators. 

Why do Boxelders Cause Problems?

Though boxelders are not dangerous to people or pets, they can be real pests in the garden. They tend to gather in large numbers and will feed on the leaves and seeds of boxelder trees as well as maple and ash. This behavior is not fatal to the trees they target, however it does leave the trees scarred and may cause fruit deformation in some trees too. 

The other main issue with boxelder bugs is that they tend to appear all at once. You never see just one boxelder bug! Even if they aren’t harmful, the sight and smell of them all over the garden or inside the house is really unpleasant and should be sorted out as soon as possible. 

When do Boxelders Tend to Appear?

In the spring, female bugs lay their eggs on the bark of the trees. These eggs hatch all at once in the summer but then there is another breeding season and a new set of eggs hatches in the early autumn. Ideally, if you can rid your garden of the bugs before the second batch of eggs is laid, you should be able to keep them out of the house over winter but there is no real guarantee.

As winter approaches, many bugs will be looking for somewhere warm to overwinter. They will search for small openings and cracks around windows to get into your house. The problem is that when your central heating comes on, the bugs mistake this for the start of spring and step into action while they are still inside. 

How to Get Rid of Boxelders

Getting a professional to deal with the problem is always the best solution. Our professionally trained technicians at Greenix will evaluate the severity of the problem and target key areas using eco-friendly and organic pest control products.  Boxelder bugs tend to breed and hide in similar places so they are not difficult to identify and remove safely. 

Our technicians will also advise you of the best methods for keeping boxelders from getting inside the house. Usually, this means fixing any cracks and gaps they might crawl in through the walls and around windows and doors but may also include using safe products to dissuade the bugs from coming in in the first place. If you have severe and regular infestations, you might wish to remove the tree in question and replace it with another less appealing one (to the bugs).

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