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Boxelder Bugs

The boxelder bug occurs throughout the range of its principle host in the U.S. The nymphs (immature) are bright red in color; adults (12-14mm in length) are dark brownish-black with three red stripes on the thorax and red wing veins. The wings are thickened and leathery at the base and membranous at the tip. The wings at rest are held flat over the back with the membranous tips overlapping.

Boxelder bugs feed on pistillate (female) flowers, fruits, foliage and tender twigs of its preferred host, boxelder, but also may feed on other maples, ash, and even apple, grape and plum.

In the fall they will swarm towards houses looking for suitable hibernation sites and will congregate in large numbers on porches, exterior walls, foundations, and walkways. They do not feed on foodstuffs, fabrics or furnishings, but they may feed on some houseplants. They can bite, and will do so if carelessly handled. They may stain resting areas on walls and curtains with brown fecal material, and they produce a disagreeable odor when crushed.

If you choose to use an insecticide out of doors, spray boxelder bugs on tree trunks, foliage (diazinon 25%EC carbaryl 50% WP and insecticidal soap). Do not use carbaryl on house or other buildings. Indoors: vacuum them up.

For a complete listing of suggested control options for all home, yard and garden insect pests contact your local Extension Service, found under local government in the phone book.

Read and follow instructions on the pesticide label. Heed all warnings. Check with your physician if you have any concerns regarding your personal health risk.


Revised by Tom Ellis, M.S., Department of Entomology

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