Boxelder Bugs

OVERVIEW

Boxelder bugs get their common name from the fact that they are often found on and around boxelder trees. This species is native to the western states, but can be found from eastern Canada throughout the eastern United States, and west to eastern Nevada, wherever boxelder trees are found. Boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest as they they enter structures, including homes, sheds and garages to overwinter.
Boxelder bugs generally become a problem when they invade homes, sheds and garages in the fall and when they emerge in the spring. Like many overwintering pests, homeowners may see evidence of these bugs as the winter ends and they leave their overwintering site to go back outdoors.

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Biology & Behavior

Box elder bugs become nuisance pests as they move into buildings. Problems are most severe along south and west sides of structures, since the bugs tend to move into cracks and crevices in the sun warmed areas. ​Adult box elder bugs are about 1/2″ inch in length, dark brown or black, with conspicuous red markings. Immature box elder bugs are smaller and a solid bright red color. Only the adults are capable of overwintering successfully. ​The box elder tree seeds, produced on female box elder trees, are the food of the 2nd generation. The severity of box elder bugs as nuisance pests is correlated with such factors as in the amount of seeds produced the previous year, nearness of female box elder trees, and length of the growing season. ​When inside a building, box elder bugs are in a semi-dormant state. They cannot reproduce and do not feed. Bites on humans are rare, but occasionally occur.

Diseases

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