Box Elder Bugs
A reader asks: I've been finding a large number of black bodied insects with a red line running across their wings in the shape of a œV. What are they and are they dangerous?
Dear Reader: Sounds like it might be a Box elder bug. Box elder bugs, sometimes spelled boxelder, normally feed on the leaves, flowers, and seed pods of the boxelder tree or silver maple. Large numbers of box elder bugs are usually on the female, or pod-bearing, tree. The adults search for a place to hide in winter which brings them into houses where they can be found in small cracks and crevices in walls, door and window frames, attics, and around the foundation of the house. During warm days in winter and early spring they come out of hiding and scatter throughout the house.
They are primarily a nuisance as they crawl or fly about in the rooms. They do no damage by feeding, but their excrement spots on draperies are difficult to ***image1***remove. The bugs cause little damage to trees.
Box elder bugs sometimes appear on light painted surfaces outdoors on the south and west sides of the house, resting in the sun on warm days during winter and early spring. You might think that the boxelder bugs are trying to get inside, but they are only sunning themselves. When the sun goes down and it gets cooler, they crawl into a crack to find protection from the cold.
There are dozens of chemicals that are registered for control of the Box elder bug. I really like Talstar Pro to treat the outside exterior. In addition to that, there are plenty of pest control professionals who are ready, willing and able to come out to your house and apply pest control chemicals. We say, save your money. For the few bugs that get inside your home simply use a vacuum cleaner to pick them up. No insecticides are necessary. Don't squash them, either. You'll get red stains. On top of that, they also have a foul odor when crushed.
The box elder bugs are absolutely harmless. They are not dirty and they won't sting you or eat anything inside your house.