I was sent to help a homeowner in Long Branch, NJ whose home was being invaded by “little red bugs.” I immediately identified these bugs as boxelder bugs. These oval, black bugs with reddish-orange markings on its back are about 1/2" long. These are true bugs with six legs, and two antennae. Boxelder bugs molt six times on their way to adulthood and the nymphs look nothing like the adult bugs. The tiny baby nymphs are often completely red in their early stages. These destructive agricultural pets are named for their primary host, female seed-bearing boxelder trees. Although these bugs feed primarily on the seeds of boxelder trees, they also infest maple and ash trees.
These bugs emerge in the spring and feed on their host tree until cool temperatures move in. Once cooler temperatures set in they look for warmer places to overwinter and escape the outdoor elements, including our homes. They like to hide in small cracks and crevices in walls. A thorough crack and crevice treatment will prevent these occasional invaders from entering your home. It is important to timely deal with summer bug infestations found outside of your home because once the weather cools, many insects, including boxelder bugs, will try to overwinter inside your home. With insects, because of their size, it’s relatively easy for them to find ways to access your home through gaps, cracks, and crevices around the foundation, improperly sealed doors, especially garage doors, and screens with rips or holes.