I don't know what it's like around your home or workplace, but if yours are anything like mine, you've got lots of boxelder bugs hanging around, inside and out, at this time of year.

They're hanging around my house like a busload of relatives, and the supply of boxelder bugs here at the radio station could be easily described as plentiful (like the one I found doing the breast-stroke in my coffee this morning, and the roughly 200 or so that are making a home in our light fixtures).

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It must look like this when bugs have "door buster" sales. (Getty Images)
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Why Are They Hanging Around? What Do They Eat? Are They Venomous? Do They Bite? Should I Squish Them? Why Do I Have Them If I've Got No Box Elder Tree?

Wow. You've got lots of questions (although, I guess I'm the one with questions, since I wrote that), so let's get to some of the pertinent answers:

  • They're hanging around because when temperatures begin to cool in the fall, they will start to seek out warmer areas. They are most often attracted to buildings with large southern or western exposures because they are warmer than the surrounding area. They are looking cracks and other spaces to squeeze into, and will occasionally make their way indoors until warm weather returns.
  • You don't have to have a box elder tree to have box elder bugs. For food, they sometimes feed on maple or ash trees, too. So, no box elder tree---no problem for the bugs.
Box Elder bugs in a cluster on the side of an old house.
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    • They're not venomous at all. A couple of sources I checked said that they can bite "defensively," but other sources say they do not bite at all. The biggest problem box elder bugs can give you is that their poop can stain light-colored surfaces.
    • Don't squish them, because they will emit a foul odor, and cause a big stain on whatever you've smashed them on. Your best move is to vacuum them up.
    • Once boxelder bugs are in your house, they're relatively good guests, as they don't eat anything, and they don't reproduce inside your home (which is more than I can say about many houseguests we've had over the years)

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