Boxelder bugs are not a threat to your health or safety, but they can be a nuisance.
Named for the box elder maple tree they love to live in, these insects can appear in large numbers. They are about a half inch long and have red stripes on their backs. They won't bite you or eat your food, clothes or other belongings, but they can be annoying when they're flying around your home. Plus, it is not too appealing of a sight when many of them are congregating on a window or exterior wall.
You'll more often see boxelder bugs in your home during the winter. When the temperatures drop, they seek a warmer place to live, typically the box elder tree. However, they're not too good at distinguishing between a home and their usual hideout. They can make their way into your house through small cracks or other openings, and their droppings can produce stains.
When they gather, you'll likely find them on a southern or western exposure of your home. As the sun warms exterior walls, they'll bask in the heat to warm up.
Removing boxelder bugs
As with any unwanted critters in your home, start with a pest inspection to determine the extent of the infestation. An expert will check your property to determine if any of the organisms present can be a threat to the structure the house and provide a list of solutions for getting rid of the pests.
When dealing with boxelder bugs specifically, it is not recommended that you use insecticides or other poisons, as they're not as effective as other solutions. Instead, use soapy water, which will kill them on contact. For your home's exterior, you can use a hose to spray the insects from the walls. You can also use a shop or wet vacuum or broom and dustpan to remove the bugs. In addition to removing the insects from your home, apply these techniques to nearby box elder maple trees to tackle the issue before it spreads to your house.
Avoid crushing boxelder bugs, as their bodies will release an offensive odor.
Preventing future infestations
To keep these insects from getting inside your home, inspect your property and seal any cracks you find with caulk or a similar solution. Ensure screens and windows are in good condition and consider calling in a pest control expert to treat the home's exterior.