We have these interesting looking beetle-type of bug currently sunning themselves on the side of my house. They have been out in droves for the last couple of days. They are black with red stripes with wings (and fly well), and are about as dumb as the earwigs are. They have a thin shell. We would like to know what they are, where they come from, and how to get rid of them. We are environmentally conscious and would like to do this as safely as possible as we have dogs and kids in the yard. Can you help?
Sounds like box elder bugs. These bugs eat the fallen blossoms from certain trees. They don't damage the trees, so we consider them a pest just because they are present in such large numbers. You can spray the outside of the house with Demon WP or Defense SC. It is a low-toxicity product and works very well. A good time to spray is in the fall months to prevent overwintering.
Boxelder bugs do overwinter like Asian Beetles. They seek shelter during the fall months in such as houses and other buildings, cracks or crevices in walls, doors, under windows and around foundations, particularly on south and west exposures. They can come out even during the dead of winter when it is cold outside and the sun is shining.
These bugs have been known to hide in your furniture,even appliances as televisions.
Boxelder bugs do not intenionally enter your buildings. They like to sun themselves on the exterior walls and crawl into cracks and crevices when the sun goes down. If these cracks lead to inside of the structure, and you may find them inside.
Can I spray inside?
It really would solve the problem. A vacumm cleaner is about all that can be done at this point. Mark your calenders to spray the exterior during the fall months.