Boxelder bugs are the small black and orange bugs that will swarm indoors during cooler weather. While they typically do little damage, having thousands of little bugs flying around your home is no fun. Prevention is the best way to keep these pests out of your home.
These bugs can grow up to 1/2 an inch in length. They primarily feed on boxelder trees, hence their name, but will also feed on maple and ash trees. Although they do not cary disease and are not a threat to human health, boxelder bugs can become a pest because of the damage they do to plants and their tendency to swarm inside homes.
Because it's warm. Boxelder bugs are primarily a problem in Houston in October through February, when the weather is cooler. These bugs will come inside homes to seek shelter for the winter. They will often set up colonies inside of walls or roofs, only to emerge when the heat gets turned on in the house and they think that it's spring again.
Boxelder bugs move in swarms. They hibernate over the winter in sheltered areas, then emerge in the spring to feed for several weeks before mating and laying eggs. After the eggs hatch, the young boxelder bugs grow to maturity, the older bugs die off, and the swarm seeks shelter for the next winter, as the cycle repeats.
While boxelder bugs aren't considered a serious agricultural or garden pest, they can do damage to young buds on fruit trees and cause the fruit to grow misshapen and distorted. The one plant they will do the most damage to is boxelder trees, which are their preferred food source. That's why they're called boxelder bugs.
Making sure that your house is free of cracks and well-sealed can help reduce the chances of boxelder bugs entering your home. Boxelder bugs are especially likely to enter the home through gaps in windows and doors, so check to make sure that all window and door seals are tight, and that there no holes in window screens.
Also, be sure to check that the seals around the eaves and under the roof are tight. Ensure that any attic vents are tightly screened.
If you notice a large number of boxelder bugs around your house during the summer, it can also be a good idea to contact a pest control company to apply a preventative treatment around the house to keep boxelder bugs out. Spraying under the eaves and around doors and windows in mid to late August can help prevent these pests from coming in to your home.