My Top Five Least Favorite Insects – Number 5, the Boxelder Bug

Boxelder bugs are one of my top five least favorite insects. When looking at the facts, there’s very little reason for this: they don’t look creepy and they don’t bite or sting. In most cases, these bugs are completely innocuous. But I still have to classify them as one of my least favorite insects, simply because of my experience with these bugs.

Like I’m sure many of you have probably experienced, my parents’ home — which is my childhood home and truthfully was still my home until just a few years ago — plays host to these bugs every year. I assume this is mainly due to the fact that we have a large maple tree in our backyard. Boxelder bugs feed on plant matter, most often seeds and leaves from the boxelder tree for which they are named. However, they do also enjoy maples and their helicopter-like seed pods. These bugs have taken up residence in both the front of my parents home and the backyard, but they are especially fond of the backyard as it gets the best exposure to the afternoon sun. Swarms of these bugs are often seen along the back walls of the house in the fall, as the bugs are trying to stay warm and find a place to spend the winter.

I had the unfortunate luck to live on the side of the house that faces the backyard, which, admittedly, was nice in many ways. For instance, I could always see sunsets from my window! However, the boxelder bugs made it less than pleasant in a lot of ways and it is what has caused my dislike for these oblong, black and red-orange bugs. Boxelder bugs, like many other bugs (and honestly like some humans), will search in the fall for a place to spend the winter without freezing. In my unlucky experience, that place these bugs found to try to overwinter was often my room.

There’s nothing quite like waking up and feeling like something is crawling on you, assuming you are imaging things, then go to scratch the area and realize oh no, that’s not actually you imaging things, it’s just a casual friendly boxelder bug trying to share your bed. Or having a boxelder bug flying around your room, and its incessant buzzing and thunk-ing when it runs into a wall, while you are trying to fall asleep. This, of course, was not just in the fall when they first entered, but throughout the winter as the heating system would sometimes wake these bugs up and them, not realizing that it isn’t actually spring yet, would try to find food and water.

And of course, spring was always a fun time as well. One day it would be completely bug-free, and then suddenly, as soon as the weather gets nice enough for them to come out of their overwintering places, they are everywhere again.

Thankfully, my new apartment here in Milwaukee doesn’t appear to have a problem with boxelder bugs, or any bugs for that matter as far as I can tell. But I feel very lucky that I know a great company to turn to if I were to need assistance with pest control. I wish Advanced Wildlife Control had an Iowa branch though – my parents really could use the help!