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Overwintering Pests: Boxelder and Stink Bugs

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 by Bill Cowley

Stink Bug

Aren’t bugs an annoyance that we should only have to deal with during the summer? After all, since these pests are cold blooded, shouldn’t they be long gone by the time the crisp fall air comes our way? Specifically, why do we see so many stink bugs and Boxelder bugs popping up in our homes during the fall season? The reason is pretty straightforward. After eating all they need during the summer, they are now looking for a nice warm place to spend their winter and escape the cold in Carteret, NJ, and other neighboring areas. Since they can’t catch a plane to Miami, they choose the next best place to hunker down: your house!

Boxelder bugs and stink bugs live and breed in our gardens and yards throughout the summer. Boxelder bugs feed on low vegetation and seeds on the ground. While they prefer to lay their eggs in seed-bearing boxelder trees, they will use maple and ash trees when boxelders are not found. Stink bugs also feed on vegetation during the summer months. In fact, stink bugs have such a voracious appetite that that they have become a serious threat to fruit, vegetables and farm crops in the Mid-Atlantic region.

After these pests have finished gorging themselves outside, they begin to search for a place to overwinter as temperatures begin to drop. In New Jersey, this search for hospitable living conditions usually happens throughout September and October. Some of these bugs choose to overwinter in natural locations like dead trees and in leaf debris; however, others find man-made structures more to their liking.

Prevention is the key for forcing stink bugs and boxelder bugs to spend their winter outdoors in dead trees instead of your den! First, survey the perimeter of your home to locate potential entry points where bugs can enter. Take extra care when looking on the south side of your home. This is where boxelder bugs are most likely to congregate as they seek out the warm sunshine. After inspecting the south side, continue to survey the rest of your home. Pay special attention to cracks around your windows, doors, and chimneys. Also, make sure that there are no cracks that would allow these bugs to get behind your siding or fascia boards. Any cracks, holes, or crevices are potential entry ways into your home.

Once you have found any potential entry points, take action by sealing any cracks. Use a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. To be sure, finding and fixing all the cracks in the exterior of your home is a daunting task. Just be methodical and do a section at a time. Trust us, it’s well worth the effort. The problem with these bugs is that once one enters, the floodgates can open. When a stink bug finds a suitable site to overwinter, it doesn’t keep its location a secret. Instead, it releases a chemical called an aggregation pheromone. This scent signal entices even more stink bugs to enter your home. So, if you do not stop the bugs from coming in now, by the time it’s the middle of winter, you may be overrun by these pests.

If you had more than a few stink bug and boxelder bugs crawling around your home last year or you are already seeing them congregate on the outside of your home, call Cowleys today. We have preventative measures that will head off a full-blown infestation and keep these overwintering pests were they belong  -- on the outside looking in -- all winter long.