The Q&A Archives: Box Elder Bugs

Question: I have lived here for 6 years and during the first 5 years I saw just a normal number of boxelder bugs in the yard, driveway, and in the house. Last year, I had an incredible infestation of boxelder bugs. There were literally thousands of them in my yard and driveway and many, many more of them moved into the house this past fall. Do you know of any reason why there would suddenly be so many bugs? Friends of mine reported the same phenomenon last year and they don't have any boxelder trees on their property. Is there anything I can do to prevent this extreme infestation? I still believe that they are harmless but last year, they were such a nuisance.

Answer: Boxelder bugs are harmless, and the population may have soared just because of a lack of predators and the right conditions. The same thing happened at my house with lady bugs! Chances are that either this year or next the populations will fall back to tolerable levels naturally. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent the explosions except perhaps go to great lengths to encourage predators such as birds. If you really get to a point where you feel you must control the bugs indoors, there is a product called Drione, a silica aerogel (antidessicant) which also contains the insecticide pyrethrum, that is moderately effective. Use with caution because it is toxic to fish, and be sure to follow all the directions on the label. You might also contact your cooperative extension office (313-971-0079) to inquire about the high populations. Good luck!

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