Boxelder bugs may not bite, sting, or transmit diseases, but they certainly are a nuisance. Although they don’t cause much damage to homes or plants, their feces has the ability to stain light-covered surfaces, not to mention that smashing them can release a rather foul stench.
What Are Boxelder Bugs?
So what, exactly, are boxelder bugs? They are black-and-red bugs that attracted to the box elder tree, hence their name. They also are drawn to maple and ash trees. Boxelder bugs are considered a nuisance bug, as they swarm in droves and can find their way inside your home, although they mostly tend to stay outside during warmer weather. They tend to invade buildings during the autumn, in order to find a place to overwinter.
What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?
Adult boxelder bugs narrow, elongated, flat-backed insects that are about Â½ inch long and 1/3 inch wide. They are a dark, brownish-black color with three red strips going lengthwise from the area behind their head. Their heads are black with an reddish-orange proboscis, or beak. They have four segmented antennae that are long and thin, and are usually half as long as their body. Their wings are membranous on top, while being thick and leathery at the base. Boxeleder bugs have red veins in their wings, and their abdomens are red beneath the wings. Nymphs, or baby boxelder bugs, closely resemble adults, except they are rounder, smaller, wingless, and completely bright red.
What Do Boxelder Bugs Do?
During the autumn, boxelder bugs must seek shelter for overwintering during the cold, harsh months of winter. They are attracted to lights and often fly in through open windows and doors. When they are outdoors during the hot, dry summer months, they are usually found on the sides of trees or buildings. They reemerge during the warm months of spring, relocating from their hiding places into living spaces.
What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?
During warm spring and summer months, boxelder bugs feast and reproduce upon female box elder trees. They consume sap by sucking it from the leaves, tender twigs, and developing seeds. Occasionally they will also feast and reproduce on male box elder trees, which can cause minor deformities of fruit and leaves, as well as yellow leaf discoloration.
How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs
Since boxelder bugs mainly feast on box elder trees, the obvious solution for these nuisance insects is to remove the source of the problem. By taking out the trees they like to populate, you would be dramatically decreasing the boxelder bug population. Some towns have outlawed these types of trees, although adult bugs can fly up to 2 or more miles in search of another place to live.
Boxelder bugs are a nuisance, which is why you really don’t want them hanging around. They could ruin your curtains of furniture with their fecal matter, and they will literally stink up the place upon death. If you’ve noticed a large population of boxelder bugs in your area, you should consider contacting a pest control professional.
About the author: Chris is a blogger for a odessa pest control company. His wife has appointed him as official bug remover of the home, and regardless of what he is doing he drops it and takes care of the spider, beetle, or other creepy crawly.