Red Bugs in the Garden and on the House
I have these red bugs all over my gardens on 2 sides of my house—they might be called elder box bugs or beetles? Are they just a nuisance or are they harmful? When they all gather in a warm spot, the pile of them is huge! Or so it seems to me! I’m trying to decide if I need to do something and if so, if I can do it myself or if I need an exterminator.
Immature nymphs of boxelder bugs are bright red, wingless and 1/16th of an inch when they first hatch. As they grow larger they become red and black. Adult boxelder bugs are about 1/2" long and are black with orange or red markings (three red lines just behind the head, a red line along each side and a diagonal line on each wing). Their wings lay flat over their bodies, overlapping each other to form and 'x'. All stages of growth can be witnessed at any time during the summer.
They do not harm plants but can be a nuisance when they congregate on our homes or slip through a crack and make it indoors. These insects feed on the seeds of boxelders (Acer negundo) and other maples (Acer). In the fall they look for warm locations to warm themselves as well as a place to spend the winter. They do not pose a threat to the health of our plants. Treatment is only done to eliminate the nuisance. Some gardeners vacuum any that find their way indoors. Be sure to dispose of the bag.
Large populations can be controlled with insecticides. Consider using more eco-friendly products like insecticidal soap or Neem. Make chemical insecticides your last resort as songbirds, toads and several beneficial insects that eat these pests may be injured or killed by some chemical insecticides. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any product.