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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Invasion of the red and black beetles

Gardening, Nature

Has your home and yard been invaded by 1,000s of small, red and black beetles? 

Mine has, and they are leaving blood-red drip marks all over my freshly painted white garage doors!

Though nowhere near the epic proportions of the plague of flies and gnats Pharaoh and the Egyptians had to endure in the book of Exodus, I do not recall ever seeing such swarms in my lifetime.

I didn't really know what these red and black beetles were. Fortunately, they seemed pretty harmless. And they were stupid--didn't even try to get away when I squished them with a tissue. They reminded me of a smaller, more red Box Elder beetle, and in fact, emitted the same odd scent that Box Elders did when killed.

A quick Google confirmed my suspicions: They were Boxelders--in the nymph stage! (Youngsters) This website instructed that homeowners "Take the offensive, and attack the fall box elder bugs to keep them from becoming spring box elder bugs." You can spay their swarms with insecticidal soap, diluted laundry detergent, or pyrethrin (chrysanthemum based) insecticides.

As for removing the blood-red drips on my pristine white garage doors, I used about a quart of warm water, 2T of Oxyclean, and a squirt of Shakley Basic H. The red marks, which I think are the drip marks from feasting spiders, came off easily with this mixture. Probably any mild soapy mixture would work. I rinsed with clean water, and the beauty of my summer work project was restored.

So don't despair, another webpage says only the mature adult bugs overwinter in cracks, crevices, and protected areas. The cold weather will put an end to them..

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