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Box Elder Bugs Invade County

Boix Elder Bugs

Box Elder Bugs

Box Elder Bugs.  They don’t bite. They don’t do any structural damage to your house. And they don’t eat anything inside your house including house plants, and they won’t harm you, your family, or your pets. They are just simply a nuisance every year at this time, as they gather in the hundreds on the sunny side of your house, gradually working their way through spaces in your siding, and eventually making their way  into your house as they seek out warmth and a possible place to winter over. If they do get in your house, they will not breed, so there is no danger of an infestation. They are box elder bugs and they seem to be particularly numerous this fall. They get their name from the tree, upon the leaves of which they feed – the box elder tree, better known locally as the Manitoba Maple. One method of control that some suggest is to rid your property of box elder trees; however, box elder bugs also feed on other tree species, such as silver maples, but they do little damage. Superficially, box elder bugs resemble milkweed bugs, but if they are crawling all over the outside wall of your house these sunny days by the thousands, then they are undeniably box elder bugs. Enjoy them! There is not much else you can do!

Filed Under: News from Everywhere Else

About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Michelle – Box elder bugs are around every year at this time, but they seem to be especially abundant this fall. Perhaps it was an exceptional breeding season, maybe their abundance right now has been temperature related to produce such activity. We may never know for sure although their populations do seem to be highest after dry spells. Conditions are perfect right now with all this rain to produce a fungal disease that will kill off the excess numbers outside, leaving only those that have made it into your house to remain until spring when they will instinctively work their way outside to breed. Although they prefer Manitoba maples, they are attracted to oaks and maples as well, but do only some cosmetic damage to the foliage. So, other than making their way through the walls and into the house as they gravitate toward the heat, they do no damage at all.

  2. Michelle says:

    Our house has been crawlling with these bugs. Some have made there way inside now as well. I am so glad you have sent some information on this species. One question I have is where did they originate from, as I have not seen these in my past? It has only been in the last few years. The tree that is outside my house is an oak, would they feed off of this one?

  3. Gail – once this warm front moves on and colder weather takes its place, we should soon start to see a decline in their numbers. In other words, they will ultimately manage themselves! There’s not a lot one can do. If you have massive numbers of them, hosing them down with water and insecticidal soap will work, but others will take their place. Pyrethroid insecticides are available to treat foundation walls. If in the house, they will die eventually. Eliminating Manitoba Maples on your property won’t work either as these insects are pretty good fliers and will come in from other areas. Winter is just around the corner!

  4. Gail Henderson says:

    We have lots of them and I would love some tips on managing them.

  5. Louisa says:

    Well now I know. They’re a colourful and interesting critter – and while we don’t seem to have any here at our house, I have seen places with them, not only in the hundreds, but what seems like thousands. By the way, when we lived on our farm, our neighbour had another name for the Manitoba Maples, seeing that they sprang up prolifically everywhere and anywhere – Garbage Tree.

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