I have never experienced something so revolting in my entire life.

My car was completely overrun by a mass of flying insects this weekend. Whenever I thought I got rid of them, more would come crawling out of my vehicle.

It took multiple car washes, vacuuming with near military-grade equipment, insecticide treatments and, finally, detonating a bug bomb in my garage to get rid of them.

Beware the Boxelder Bug

The infestation started Friday afternoon, when I left work to enjoy my weekend and saw a bunch of these strange-looking black bugs amassing on my taillight.

WIBX/Megan Stone
WIBX/Megan Stone
WIBX/Megan Stone
WIBX/Megan Stone

I figured a bug orgy was taking place on my car and that the insects would blow away in the wind once I started driving.

Unfortunately, that was my first error and that snowballed into a headache that lasted all weekend long.

At the time, I honestly didn't know what the bugs were, nor what they were capable of. Instead of being sucked away by the wind, they skittered in the nooks and crannies of my car and held on for dear life.

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So when I didn't see any scurrying around after my drive, I honestly thought that solved the issue. Oh, how naive was I?

I continued to see these disgusting bugs hanging out on my car, I finally realized I had a serious problem.

Tarheelson/Getty Images
Tarheelson/Getty Images

A frantic Google search finally revealed how bad my situation was - my car was infested with boxelder bugs.

What Are Boxelder Bugs?

Speaking with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County, they explained that boxelder bugs are "about 1/2 inch in length and brownish-black in color with red stripes on the thorax and wing margins. The body is also bright red."

They add:

The boxelder bugs pass the winter in the adult and sometimes nymphal stages in dry, sheltered places where they have accumulated in gregarious masses. They often choose buildings or houses as a protected place to overwinter... The boxelder bugs begin to aggregate in warm spots in the fall of the year and may continue to be active until cold weather sets in.

Scott Sait, owner of Accurate Pest Solutions, adds that boxelder bugs "generally become pests only during the fall, winter and spring when they are overwintering."

Cooler evenings during early fall signal the approach of winter and trigger overwintering site selection behavior.The warmth emitted by the walls attracts these insects, often in large numbers, over a period of weeks. Upon landing, the insects crawl up and about searching for entry points. Any openings that permit access to voids behind exterior walls may be used, especially those around windows, weep holes, and beneath flashing.

It should also be known these critters share a name with the boxelder tree, as they are known to lay their eggs in their bark and feed off their seeds. So if you have these trees on your property, you also have boxelder bugs.

Also, these insects can be a doozy to exterminate.

Nuclear-Powered Resistance

My quest to rid my car of boxelder bugs was a weekend-long adventure. I would go through multiple car washes (never the same one twice - to avoid being recognized or feeling shame) only to see these critters stubbornly clinging onto the exterior.

They also resisted being sucked up in the shop vacs and would stubbornly burrow themselves further into the crevices around my gas cap and hatch.

These bugs also didn't die when I sprayed them directly with a n insecticide that is designed to kill them instantly. Instead, they would writhe around and try to pathetically crawl further into my vehicle.

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Eventually, I had enough and brought out the big guns. I equipped myself with a holy hand grenade of sorts - a bug bomb.

I pulled my car into the garage, held my breath, and detonated it.

I let my vehicle idle in those noxious fumes all night. That morning, I inspected the carnage and felt I had wandered onto a battlefield.

Wirestock/Getty Images
Wirestock/Getty Images

Mountains of bug carcasses littered my garage floor - and it felt sublime being able to sweep them out onto the driveway.

I had won.

Do I know for certain this killed the bugs? No. But I think these pests will think twice before they decide to colonize my car.

How to Manage a Boxelder Infestation

Sait strongly suggests to homeowners who don't want these unsettling visitors to "find and seal as many exterior cracks as possible" around their building.

"Boxelder and Stink bugs are best controlled through preventative efforts. Once inside walls and other voids, total control is nearly impossible as location of and access to all infested areas is difficult," Sait explained. "Despite the best non chemical and exclusion efforts, some buildings infested by these pests will require treatment."

If I could do it all again, I would have immediately taken my car through the car wash. Perhaps they wouldn't have become so attached to my adorable SUV and gone through great lengths to stay in it.

The best way to manage an infestation is vacuuming, applying a solution of warm water with Dawn dish detergent, and insecticide.

I felt that I had to use the extreme option quickly because of the sheer number of bugs crawling around my car. There was a literal clump of them living in my gas cap.

While doing a bug bomb in my garage ultimately did the trick, the priority now is to park out of the sunshine.

Basically, these bugs love hanging out and copulating on warm, sunny surfaces like walls and cars alike. The best way to make your car an unsexy place to Netflix and Chill is by parking it in the shade.

As for when these gross little bugs will stop posing a threat to vehicles everywhere, exterminators say the first frost should do the trick.

However, Sait warned that Central New York will experience a stretch of 70-degree weather, so their season will stick around a little while longer.

Read More: Old Farmer's Almanac Predicts Cold, Snowy Winter 

However, once temperatures plummet, the bugs should no longer seek out warmth and, instead, focus on finding shelter during the cold winter months.

Sait advises homeowners, "Spot and general exterior residual treatments should be applied in late summer and early fall to exterior walls around windows and doors on the South and West walls."

The season for Boxelder bugs is short, nevertheless they have proven themselves a nuisance once inside.


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