What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?

Boxelder bugs get their name because they are often found around boxelder trees. These pests are a nuisance to homeowners because they will frequently intrude into structures, especially homes, sheds, and garages to overwinter. These insects are black with reddish or orange markings on the dorsum. It crawls around on 6 legs that extend from an elongated-oval shaped and somewhat flattened body and its head is narrower than the pronotum. The boxelder bug averages about ½ inch long. These bugs have wings, but as nymphs, they are bright red and do not have wings.

Are Boxelder Bugs Harmful to Humans?

These insects are typically more of a problem when they intrude into structures in the fall and then emerge in the spring. They are not known to bite; however, their piercing-sucking mouthparts can pierce the skin if they are in close contact, which can puncture and leave the skin slightly irritated. Some people may experience a red spot like a mosquito bite. The fecal matter of a boxelder bug can cause red stains on porous materials, such as drapes, curtains, clothing, rugs, carpets, upholstery, and other fibers. If they roughly handled or crushed, they can produce a foul-smelling odor.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

Boxelders adults overwinter and emerge from hibernation in late March/early April when the boxelder tree buds open. These bugs return to host trees for the warmer months of summer. They will first eat the fallen boxelder seeds where they will then move onto the female boxelder or maple trees and devour the newly developing leaves. Some of these insects will consume the fruit on apple and plum trees if given the opportunity.

Boxelder Bug Life Span

Congregating on the south side of rocks, trees, and buildings during autumn where the sun hits and they can stay warm, boxelder bugs become gregarious. They migrate to nearby buildings or homes to overwinter once they have gathered in mass. To hide from the cold temperatures, they insulate themselves in the walls from the small cracks and crevices. As mentioned, by spring, they emerge to their host tree.

Boxelder Bug Control

Keeping your home well sealed will help prevent boxelder bug infestations. Caulk any cracks and crevices in the foundation, install weather stripping, and keep the ventilation and utility lines covered with mesh covers. Should you find these pests infesting your boxelder trees or if they have moved in during the fall, call Rentokil for treatment.

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