There is no major danger or health threat. These insects are more a nuisance and reflective of boxelder tree presence on the outside of the home/structure. Inside however, their fecal material may cause a red stain and cause discolouration on curtains, furniture, clothes and other places they rest. When crushed, they omit an unpleasant odour.
The name of this insect reflects that it is a major pest of boxelder trees. They become a nuisance when they seek shelter in the winter months in homes and other structures. These insects are found wherever boxelder trees grow.
The adult boxelder bug is about 07/16-035/64 inches in length and black with reddish lines on back and wings. They are somewhat flattened and an elongate oval shape. Nymphs are similar in appearance to the adults but lack wings, are a brighter red and are smaller in size.
Overwintering adults emerge from structures in the spring when the buds from boxelder trees open. This usually occurs in April or May depending on location. These insects feed on fallen boxelder seeds in the summer and later move to the trees to feed on newly formed leaves. Feeding only occurs on the seed bearing female trees. They can feed on other species such as maples and fruit trees. Once cooler weather sets in, in the fall, these insects collect on the South side of structures for warmth. Then the migration into the void spaces of structures occurs for the over wintering until spring.
After winter, adults emerge from structures and their hibernation. Females lay clusters of light brown to yellow eggs on vegetation, rocks and tree bark cracks and crevices. Eggs hatch in approximately two weeks. Nymphs begin to feed on boxelder seeds and new leaves of the trees. Adults emerge mid summer. In warmer areas, there may be 2 generations per year.
Is the boxelder bugs hazardous to humans?
No, this insect is more a nuisance than a hazard to people and their structures/homes.
What causes a boxelder bug infestion?
Presence of boxelder trees and other seed bearing trees such as fruit and some maples.
How can I prevent an infestion?
Exclusion is the best prevention for overwintering boxelder bugs seeking shelter inside structures. Seal up entry points around structures such as windows, doors and roof lines.
How do I remove a boxelder infestion?
Physical control such as vacuuming adults found inside is best. If pesticides are required, contact a licensed pest management professional for the best approach/application.
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