What Are Boxelder Bugs & How To Prevent Them

By Drazen D

Wonder what those black and brown cockroach-looking bugs that swarmed the exterior of homes around Toronto this fall are?

These are Boxelder Bugs, a nuisance pest that is native to Southwestern Ontario and commonly seen around homes in the late summer to fall when temperatures begin to drop.

Although they are present every year in the GTA, this year they were out in much larger numbers making a lot of Toronto residents concerned about the issue. It turns out that the dry summer provided them with optimal breeding conditions, allowing them to have a sort of baby boom. And because they enjoy basking in the sun to soak up the heat, they were found in droves on south facing walls all around Toronto.

swarm of boxelder bugs

Every year when the cold weather approaches, they look for a warm place to spend the winter, most often inside our homes. No need to be concerned about these nuisance pests though as they cause no harm to humans, pets, crops or structures.

Even though they cause no harm to humans, they are still a major annoyance, especially if they get into your home. To help prevent this, we have put together some boxelder bug prevention tips and some suggestions on what to do if they do enter your home.

Boxelder Bug Habits

Before going into detail about how to prevent and get them out of your home, it is important to have an understanding of boxelder bug habits in the first place.

Boxelder bugs are small insects, able to fit through cracks as small as ⅛ of an inch in width. They have the ability to fly making it easy for them to get into your home when a window or door is open.

Gathering of Boxelder Bugs on a spring day

They are most commonly found in areas with a lot of Manitoba Maple Trees (aka Boxelder Trees), which are abundant in Toronto, since this is where they lay their eggs and feed. When the cold weather begins approaching, adult Boxelder Bugs look for a warm place to hibernate during the winter where they will be inactive until the warmer spring weather returns.

If your home is commonly infested by Boxelder Bugs in the late-summer and fall period, there are some preventative measures you can take around your home to stop them from invading again.

Boxelder Bug Prevention

Since they like to bask in the sun during the late summer, they will often congregate in large numbers on south facing walls with a lot of exposure to the sun. If your house is higher than neighboring homes, or is in an area with no homes nearby giving it full exposure to the sun during the day, there is a greater chance that you will find a lot of these insects resting on your exterior wall.

Man outdoors filling holes that developed around an exterior home window frame to prevent boxelder bugs from enterring

To prevent these bugs from coming near your home, and eventually into your home, you can try these proven tips:

  • Treat any exterior wall that has a lot of sun exposure with a proven insecticide to keep them away from resting on the wall
  • Check all window and door screens so you can fix or replace any damaged ones
  • Install screens on vents and soffits or repair any damaged ones that are already in place
  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors
  • Seal areas where cables, wires and pipes enter the home to make sure there are no cracks larger than ⅛ inch in width
  • Use caulking to seal any other accessible holes or cracks that you may find around your home

Putting these tips into use will be very beneficial since most of these preventative measures will also help you avoid other common household pest invasions in Toronto.

What To Do If Boxelder Bugs Infest your Home?

If it is too late to try your hand at some of the preventative measures listed above and Boxelder Bugs have already invaded your home, there is no need to worry since the worst that they will do is dirty furniture with their droppings or leave a stain when they are squished.

Young Happy Male Worker Cleaning Floor With Vacuum Cleaner

Usually once they are indoors they are inactive so it is unlikely you will see them all winter. If you do see them, it will most likely be on warmer days when they are coming out of hibernation. When this happens, the best way to get rid of them is to use a vacuum or a broom to sweep them up and throw them in the trash or outside.

Using pesticides to kill them in your home is not efficient since it will not prevent further boxelder bugs from coming in. It is also not recommended since spraying insecticides in an enclosed space can be harmful to people and pets living in that space.

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