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Fall is upon us in Lake Oswego! The days are shorter, the air is crisp, and the leaves are beginning to turn beautiful hues of red and orange. In the Fall, we are home to many things including the Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market, Luscher Farm’s Scarecrows, and many, many box elder bugs!

What do box elder bugs look like?

Box elder bugs, or box elder beetles as they are commonly called, are a fact of Fall life in the Pacific Northwest. You’ve likely seen them around before but probably didn’t know the name for these little guys.

Box elder bugs are black with reddish or orange markings on their backs. These bright markings accent their shape and make them stand out from most other insects. Typically, they are small enough to fit on a fingernail with their bodies measured approximately ½” long. Their wings lay flat over their body—shaped somewhat like an elongated and flattened oval.

Why are they called box elder bugs?

Box elder bugs were given their name because they love box elder trees, particularly seed-bearing trees. The bugs feed on the developing seed of the tree.

While box elder bugs are found primarily on box elder trees, they can also be found on sage and maple trees. You can often find them in large groups on trees that look like small, moving red splotches—running from the roots up the trunk.

Why are there so many box elder bugs in Lake Oswego in the Fall?

Box elder bugs spend the spring and summer outdoors, but as soon as the weather in Lake Oswego shifts to fall, they relocate. When the weather begins to cool, the box elder bugs look for a warm place to shelter. They are commonly found on buildings that have a lot of southern or western facing exposure. Wherever they can find heat, box elder bugs will gather.

Box elder bugs can find their way behind the siding of a home and will cluster there for warmth. When the homeowner turns on the heat, the bugs will sometimes think that the season is beginning to turn and they will come out from behind the siding and into the home.

Where there is one box elder bug there are often several. Humans tend to be unwilling to host the box elder bugs for the winter. How rude of us! That’s why pest control companies like us get an increase in calls from Lake Oswego homeowners dealing with box elder bugs in the Fall. Box elder bugs are one of the most common pests we treat and we are happy to talk with you about your pest problem.

Are box elder bugs dangerous?

Although the box elder bug can look slightly menacing with its beady eyes and bright colors, the insect is harmless to humans and pets.

Box elder bugs don’t bite and they don’t reproduce within the house. The bugs can stain furniture and curtains and will occasionally feast on houseplants, but they do not carry diseases.

In rare instances, they have been known to get in the heating systems of homes and cause serious damage, so it is always best to have a reliable pest control company out to inspect if you begin to see the insects inside your home.

Outside of your home, they can impact their hosting trees. As they feed on the seeds of box elder, sage, and maple trees, it can sometimes result in discoloration of leaves or deformities in the fruit the tree bears. The overall health of the tree will typically not be impacted by even large groups of box elder bugs.

How do I keep box elder bugs out of my home?

The best way to keep box elder bugs out of a home is sealing up entry points and not allowing entry in the first place. Make your home a well-guarded fortress against box elder bugs by following these tips:

  •      • Make sure that screens on doors and windows do not have any rips or tears
  •      • Ensure that any cables that enter the home do not also allow for an entry point for box elder bugs
  •      • Make sure that doors contain thresholds and door sweeps that prevent the bugs from entering underneath
  •      • Siding that is pulling away from the exterior of a home can appear like loose tree bark and box elder bugs can seek shelter behind the loose siding
  •      • Exterior home maintenance can drastically assist with the prevention of box elder bug problems
  •      • It can also be helpful to remove wood piles, landscape debris, or any other place where the bug may seek out shelter

That said, the bugs are sneaky and persistent. Even the most dedicated homeowner will sometimes deal with a box elder bug problem within the home. If these tips don’t resolve your issue, give us a call for a free quote on box elder bug treatments.

How do I know when I should treat for box elder bugs?

When the bugs are seen in large numbers and are beginning to get into your home—it’s a good time to treat. Most often, our Lake Oswego customers have their homes and business treated in the Fall and Spring. The bugs tend to come back to the same area year after year—they are persistent. Unfortunately, it can become worse over time if not treated properly.

Treating at the appropriate time can help to prevent larger infestations down the road. Treatment consists of sealing up entry points and timely use of child & pet safe insecticide. This helps keep the box elder bugs at bay and out of your home.

Can I use a vacuum to remove box elder bugs from my home?

Yes! Many homeowners experience temporary relief by using a vacuum to suck up the insects both inside and outside the home. Using a shop vac, vacuum the colonies on the outside of the home around entry points like thresholds and windowsills. Vacuum any bugs that are visible within the home.

Vacuuming is not a permanent fix as destroying the colonies outdoors and sealing up entry points to the home are the best long-term defense.

It can be helpful to add a small amount of soapy water to the shop vac as this will kill the bugs as they enter the vacuum canister. Don’t forget to empty your vacuum afterwards!

Should I remove box elder trees from my yard to control the box elder bugs?

No! The bugs can fly from miles away, so removing the trees is not an effective solution.

Additionally, Lake Oswego enforces a tree code to preserve the wooded character of the City of Lake Oswego and to protect trees as a natural resource of the city. Lake Oswego wouldn’t be home without our beautiful wooded landscape. The benefits of the area’s beautiful foliage far outweigh the costs of these pests.

At Aspen Pest Control, we provide green pest control to Lake Oswego residents and aim to preserve the environment. All of our products are 100% family and pet-friendly.  And yes, our products are totally safe for the environment. We live here too and are committed to being good stewards of nature.

Who can I call to address a box elder bug problem in Lake Oswego?

We, at Aspen Pest Control, have been serving the Lake Oswego community for years. We have likely worked with one of your neighbors’ homes and/or businesses.

Box elder bugs are a common pest that we treat this time of year. Work with someone who has years of experience treating these pests. We are committed to the Lake Oswego community and to using products that are safe for your family and pets.

We offer free, no pressure estimates. We also offer same-day service for no extra charge—which is helpful if your box elder bug problem needs immediate attention.

Our results are 100% guaranteed.

Contact us to discover why your neighbors in Lake Oswego are loyal customers of Aspen Pest Control!