Sep 19, 2023 - News

What to do about boxelder bugs in Minnesota

A boxelder bug

A boxelder bug. Photo: Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you've noticed more boxelder bugs on your house in recent years, you can probably thank the drought.

Why it matters: While the pests aren't harmful to you or your house, they creep people out. If you're like me, you're wondering what to do about them as they begin congregating on your south-facing walls every fall.

How they get there: Boxelders, as well as lady beetles and stink bugs, find little cracks and get into your walls, where they lie dormant all winter before coming out when temperatures warm in February and March.

The intrigue: Researchers don't monitor boxelder populations, but there are accounts from the hot and dry years of the Dust Bowl when they were out in bigger numbers, said Marissa Schuh, integrated pest management educator for the University of Minnesota extension.

What they're saying: Rainbow Pest Experts general manager Matt Ferguson said the first step is to fill cracks and holes in your home to prevent them from getting in, though that can be difficult because the bugs can fit into a crack about the size of six pieces of paper stacked.

  • There are spray treatments you can buy at a hardware store, but Ferguson said a professional treatment will be more effective, last longer and can get hard-to-reach places.
  • Those treatments will prevent boxelder bugs as well as lady beetle and stink bugs.

The other side: Schuh suggested that customers ask pest control companies what affects the treatments have on pets, kids and pollinators.

  • "It's not a decision to take lightly."
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