boxelder bugs toronto

Huge clusters of black and red bugs are popping up all over Toronto

As the weather warms up across the GTA, clusters of creepy critters are also venturing out of their homes to embrace the sun after a long, bitter winter. 

Dozens of Toronto residents have already reported spotting swarms of black and red bugs around the city — or in some instances —  inside their homes, who some say "breed like rabbits." 

Boxelder bugs are a North American species of true bug, and feed on developing seeds of boxelder trees, as well as maple and ash trees. 

They belong to the same family as stink bugs and cicadas, and are nuisance pests, meaning they are harmless to humans and do not sting or transmit diseases. 

Adult bugs are usually 13 millimetres or half-an-inch long, and are dark brown or black with red wing veins and markings on the abdomen.

Large clusters of the nuisance pests are most abundant during hot, dry summers when followed by warm springs.

Groups may swarm together near houses to find an entry point, and are known to cause damage when present in huge numbers. 

The bugs find their way inside homes through windows, doors, ceiling lights, soffit and dryer vents, and outdoor faucets. Wood stacks, leaf and rock piles, and overgrown plants near your home also may provide shelter for the bugs. 

If boxelder bugs find their way inside your home, The National Pesticide Information Centre recommends vacumming them up and disposing of the bag, or sweeping them up and discarding them outdoors. 

Some people also recommend using dish soap and water in a spray bottle to zap the creepy crawlers away. 

While boxelder bugs are completely harmless, you can also consider sealing any cracks and crevices around your home to avoid attracting any unwanted visitors. 

Lead photo by

Judy Gallagher 


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