- Color: adults are brown-black with three red stripes on the thorax (segments with the legs attached) and red veins in the wings; nymphs are smaller and bright red.
- Size: 1/2-inch long.
Boxelder Bug Habits:
- Adults overwinter in dry, protected locations emerging in the spring when they lay small, red eggs in the cracks and crevices within the bark of boxelder trees.
- Young bugs suck the juice out of the tree leaves and twigs with their piercing-sucking mouthparts.
- In warm climates, there are two generations per year.
- They prefer to feed on the leaves, twigs, and seeds of female boxelder trees and on maple and ash trees and the young fruit of grapes, apples, and plums.
- Migration begins in the autumn when they congregate on the south and west sides of structures, rocks, and trees in areas warmed by the sun. Subsequently, all fly to an adjacent building, enter it, and hibernate for the winter.
Damage From Boxelder Bugs:
- They become a nuisance around houses when they attempt to enter in order to find overwintering sites.
- Indoors, their droppings stain drapes, curtains, furniture, sheers, and other materials where they rest.
- When crushed, emit a strong disagreeable odor.
- Although not dangerous, there have been rare reports of boxelder bugs biting when handled.
- Boxelder bugs clustering on the south and west sides of the structure.
- Areas on the structure where they can hide and/or gain entry to the structure should be protected.
- Boxelder trees on or around the affected property.
How to Control and Kill Box Elder Bugs:
- The most effective control of boxelder bugs is to prevent their entry into homes by sealing and caulking gaps around siding, windows, doors, pipes, wires, etc. To be effective, this work should be completed by early August.
- Indoors, vacuuming will remove accessible boxelder bugs. The vacuum bag should be taped and discarded.
- Removal of female boxelder trees usually eliminates the problem but is rarely practical if trees are left on adjoining properties.