Boxelder bugs

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Identification

  • Colour Black, red and orange
  • Size 11 to 14 mm long
  • Also known as Maple bugs
  • Description Have three distinctive, reddish-orange stripes on their thoraxes. When their wings lie flat, these stripes overlap to form what looks like a letter X.

How to identify Boxelder bugs

Growing up to 14 mm long, boxelder bugs are black in colour with three distinctive, reddish-orange stripes on their thoraxes. When their wings lie flat, these stripes overlap to form what looks like a letter ‘X.’ The colour red carries through to the edges of their wings and appears in their eyes, as well. Immature boxelder bugs, called nymphs, are bright red with black wing buds.

Signs of an infestation

Adults prefer to overwinter in dry, sheltered areas such as woodpiles, inside barns and sheds, or around window casements. Brightly coloured and easy to see, boxelder bugs infest homes in large numbers when searching for refuge from cold winters.

Boxelder bugs Removal

Homeowners can remove boxelder bugs with vacuums. Nevertheless, as infestations generally occur in overwhelming numbers, contacting a trained pest removal specialist is usually the best method to keep these pests away. Proper treatment is important as for overwintering boxelder bugs because any dead bugs can become source of attraction and food for other insects, such as carpet beetles. Indoor influxes can often be prevented by application of exterior perimeter treatments by a professional; however timing of this application is crucial for it to be effective. Boxelder bugs already inside can be removed by use of vacuuming.

How to prevent Boxelder bugs from invading

Gaps around foundations, open vents, and unscreened windows and doors can provide easy access into homes for these pests. Seal these and other entry points to make it more difficult for boxelder bugs to get indoors. Removing any female boxelder trees from the property or choosing male trees when landscaping and planting may help homeowners avoid future problems.

Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle

Habitat

These seasonal pests are found primarily on boxelder trees as well as other maples and ashes. However, they are also known to gather on home exteriors on sunny days and overwinter indoors.

Diet

Boxelder bugs feed on the seed pods of their host trees and other similar species by sucking the sap out of them. From time to time, these pests will also feed on fruit trees, including cherry, plum, peach, and apple.

Life Cycle

Overwintering adult boxelder bugs emerge in the spring and deposit red, oval-shaped eggs on the leaves and bark of host trees. These hatch into nymphs that immediately start feeding on seeds, foliage, twigs, and fruit. Nymphs develop through a series of molts before reaching adulthood and begin reproducing immediately. It is the second generation of adults that will overwinter and emerge the next season.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I have boxelder bugs?

Boxelder bugs, also known as maple bugs, primarily suck the sap out of the seed pods of female boxelder trees, but have been known to infest maple and ash trees, as well as fruit trees, including cherry, plum, peach, and apple.

On sunny days, boxelder bugs gather on home exteriors (usually on the south side where the most there is the most sun), while in the winter, they seek warmth and food in wood piles, inside barns and sheds, or around window casements, gaining entry through gaps around foundations, open vents, and unscreened windows and doors.

These boxelder bugs emerge in spring to lay red, oval-shaped eggs that will hatch into nymphs, which will immediately start feeding on seeds, foliage, twigs, and fruit.

How worried should I be about boxelder bugs?

Boxelder bugs do not bite or cause structural damage to homes, but are a nuisance because they invade in large numbers. The bugs also inflict cosmetic damage to trees, leaving behind speckled leaves and scarred fruit.

Crushed boxelder bugs emit a foul odour and can stain structures, while their excrement can stain draperies, furniture, and other linens. Dead bugs can also attract other insects, such as carpet beetles.

Because boxelder bugs infest in such overwhelming numbers, it’s crucial to get help from a professional pest control service to apply exterior perimeter treatments effectively and safely.

Other pests related to Boxelder bugs

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