Boxelder Bugs

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What do box elder bugs look like?

box elder bugs trying to get inside tucscon az home

Adult boxelder bugs grow to up to 1/2 inch in length. They have distinctive red and orange markings on their wings and specialized mouthparts for feeding. Immature box elder bugs are bright red in color, are smaller than adults, and do not have developed wings.  developed wings. 

Life cycle of boxelder bugs

Gradual Metamorphosis

After overwintering, the females and males will feed for about two weeks prior to mating.  The female will then lay eggs in cracks and crevices in the tree bark.  The nymphs that hatch are bright red and will complete 5 molts (instars) prior to reaching the adult stage which takes about 60 days.  The adults will have fully developed wing pads and wings.  Two generations will occur from spring to fall.

Habits of boxelder bugs

  • Diet: Sap from female boxelder trees, see, foliage and twigs. Will also feed on maple, pear and ash trees.
  • Activity: Will live in clusters and migrate in large groups that often overwhelm homeowners.
  • Preferred Climate: Warmer temperatures from spring to early fall.
  • Defense: Dark markings on wings
  • Cautions: Some species may stain interior of home with excrement
  • Home Invasion: Will enter homes in fall for shelter for overwintering. Travel in large clusters many times.

Are  boxelder bugs dangerous?

No, boxelder bugs do not transmit disease. They are considered nuisance pests that do not sting. They are not generally known to bite but there are rare reports of defensive biting. 

Where do boxelder bugs nest?

Boxelder bugs do not infest homes year-round but rather enter structures in the fall in order to find overwintering shelter. 

Helpful hints related to boxelder bugs

To stop boxelder bugs from infesting and overwintering in your home, we recommend the following pest prevention tips:

  • Seal entry points that, if left unaddressed, would allow access into the interior of the home
  • Remove all food sources including boxelder trees from the yard
  • Apply product to the south side of the home or fence lines where these bugs rest in the fall for warmth

Interesting facts about boxelder bugs

Boxelder bugs will fly as far as two miles from their original harborage point.

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