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Recycle A to Z

alternatives to pesticides - bugs/pests - boxelder bugs

                                 Actual size: 1/8"

These bugs feed on the seeds of box elder, maple and ash trees. Full-grown boxelder bugs are about 1/2” long with reddish brown or black bodies and red lines. The young are bright red. After feeding on plants in your yard during the summer, boxelder bugs may enter your house for a warm place to winter. Look for boxelder bugs in warm, sunny places in spring, such as on the south side of a house. They tend to congregate under such conditions and can be vacuumed up with little effort. However, they will not feed on anything and will not cause damage.

Physical control
Hand Remove - For smaller infestations, try hand picking the bugs. Reduce their numbers by removing nearby unwanted female box elder trees (they produce the seeds).
Sweep/Vacuum - Inside, sweep them up and dispose of them. If you use a vacuum, dispose of the bag so bugs can’t crawl back out once the vacuum is stored away or place the bag in the freezer for a few days to kill the bugs.
Seal Cracks - Also, seal cracks in exterior walls and around windows.

Least-toxic chemical control
insecticidal soaps or summer oil - Trees should be sprayed with insecticidal soap or with summer oil when pests appear. However, don’t use this approach on Japanese maples as it may damage foliage. Insecticidal soaps are highly refined liquid soaps (technically the potassium salt of fatty acids), sometimes combined with citrus oil.  Soaps are normally mixed with water and sprayed onto leaves to control spider mites, aphids, scale insects, whiteflies and other soft-bodied insects. They are contact insecticides, meaning you must wet the pest for them to be effective. Always follow package directions and cautions when using these products.


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