Fall is here and along with the cooler temperatures and falling leaves it’s brought an increase of box elder bugs to the region.
The black and red insects grow to about half an inch in length and feed on the seeds of the box elder trees. This year, because of the stress from hot temperatures and lack of rain, the trees have produced more seeds than usual, causing a spike in the bug’s population.
Recently, box elder bugs have been noticed by people throughout the area on the doors and windows of their homes and work places. Falling temperatures bring out the bugs.
“As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, the bugs, the adult ones, look for places to stay over the winter,” said Chris Logue, a representative Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County.
Windows and doors of buildings are a consistent source of warmth. The bugs may come inside through damaged window and door screens and holes in siding.
“It has been my experience that they particularly like south and west sides of light-colored buildings,” Logue said.
The box elder bugs, once inside, usually spend the winter within the walls of buildings, most of the time staying there until the weather gets warmer. They don’t do damage to the structure of the house because unlike termites and some other insects they don’t eat wood. They also will not reproduce within the walls.
When there is a warmer day than usual, the bugs may move outside of the walls and into the house.
Box elder bugs are not dangerous and don’t eat indoor plants. Still, people want to get them out of the house. The most common thing people do is squish them, but the bugs have a dark-colored blood that often stains walls.
“We recommend that people vacuum them up and discard the bag,” Logue said.