How You Can Win the Battle with Boxelder Bugs This Fall in Minnesota
They're back... boxelder bugs have once again invaded Minnesota. Here's how to keep them from bugging you too much this fall!
If your house is like ours in northwest Rochester, it's been inundated by a barrage of those black and red flying bugs. Yes, the boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittatus, if you're being all scientific) are back again this fall and have shown up with a vengeance across Minnesota.
Why are there so many boxelder bugs in Minnesota this year?
For some expert advice on these biennial bugs (okay, I don't know that they're actually biennial-- meaning that they show up every two years-- but they DO seem to be worse every few years than others, right?) I checked with the University of Minnesota Extension office.
They said while boxelder bugs aren't a problem every year, they do seem to be abundant during years with hot, dry summers followed by warm autumn weather. Which has been the case this year.
So are boxelder bugs poisonous?
Thankfully, no, boxelder bugs aren't poisonous, but they do emit a bad odor when crushed, and have a bitter taste if your pets bite or eat one. They don't cause damage to property, though they can potentially stain surfaces. They like warm areas and are attracted to buildings with a lot of southern or western exposure-- which makes the front and side of our house and garage prime targets.
So what can you do about them?
The U of M says the best prevention is to keep them out of your house. They say to make repairs to openings they can get into:
- Repair or replace damaged window and door screens.
- Repair or replace damaged screens in roof and soffit vents, and in bathroom and kitchen fans.
- Seal areas where cables, phone lines and other utility wires and pipes, outdoor faucets, dryer vents and other objects enter buildings.
- Seal with caulk or, for larger spaces, use polyurethane expandable spray foam, copper mesh or other appropriate sealant.
- Install door sweeps or thresholds to all exterior entry doors.
- Install a rubber seal along the bottom of garage doors.
And if they get inside your house?
If boxelder bugs do get inside your house, the U says pretty much your only option is physically removing with a vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan. It's important to note that the U doesn't recommend using a spray insecticide (it's generally not effective and can harm other pollinators) unless you have a really large infestation-- and then you'll probably want to call a professional service.
Boxelder bugs are just one of those nuisance insects that are native here in Minnesota. Thankfully, not all native insects and animals are-- some, in fact, are pretty handy. Did you know there are several animals native to Minnesota that can predict the weather? Keep scrolling to check 'em out!