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Even though it's not usually common, boxelder bugs have invaded Minnesota this spring. Here's how to keep them from bugging you too much this season.

If your house is like ours in northwest Rochester, it's been inundated by a barrage of those black and red flying bugs, especially on warmer days. Even though they're not usually a problem this time of year, boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittatus, if you're being all scientific) are back and have shown up across much of Minnesota this spring.

Why are there so many boxelder bugs in Minnesota this spring?

Experts at the University of Minnesota Extension office have an idea of why we're seeing more of those pesky insects this season: They noted that because box elders were especially prevalent last year due to the drought Minnesota experienced, they're not surprised we're seeing more of them this spring, as well.

Here's why: This CBS-Minnesota story says that pest management specialists at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum noted boxelder bugs seek warmth in our homes over winter and emerge as the temperature outside rises.

So are boxelder bugs poisonous?

Boxelder bugs are NOT poisonous, but they do emit a bad odor when crushed and have a bitter taste if your pets bite or eat one. They don't cause damage to property, though they can potentially stain surfaces. They like warm areas and are attracted to buildings with a lot of southern or western exposure-- which makes the front and side of our house and garage prime targets.

So what can you do about boxelder bugs?

The U of M says the best prevention is to keep boxelder bugs out of your house. They say to make repairs to openings they can get into:

  • Repair or replace damaged window and door screens.
  • Repair or replace damaged screens in roof and soffit vents, and in bathroom and kitchen fans.
  • Seal areas where cables, phone lines and other utility wires and pipes, outdoor faucets, dryer vents and other objects enter buildings.
  • Seal with caulk or, for larger spaces, use polyurethane expandable spray foam, copper mesh or other appropriate sealants.
  • Install door sweeps or thresholds to all exterior entry doors.
  • Install a rubber seal along the bottom of garage doors.

And if boxelder bugs do get inside your house?

If boxelder bugs do get inside your house, the U says pretty much your only option is physically removing them with a vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan. It's important to note that the U doesn't recommend using a spray insecticide (it's generally not effective and can harm other pollinators) unless you have a really large infestation-- and then you'll probably want to call a professional service.

Boxelder bugs are just one of those nuisance insects that are native here in Minnesota. Thankfully, not all native insects and animals are-- some, in fact, are pretty handy. Did you know there are several animals native to Minnesota that can predict the weather? Keep scrolling to check 'em out!

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KEEP READING: 10 Animals in Minnesota That Can Predict the Weather