Boxelder Bug: A Complete Guide

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A boxelder bug is a nuisance because it enters homes and other buildings, often in large numbers. Their red and black coloring can identify them, and they tend to congregate on the sunny side of the building.

While they do not evidently pose any major health risks, they can be a nuisance because of their sheer numbers.

In the summer, you might not even notice boxelder bugs since they are mostly inactive. However, come fall, when they start trying to move into homes to find a warm place to hide for winter, that’s when you’ll start seeing them more often. And if you’re not careful, they can become a real nuisance.

Let us learn more about Boxelder Bugs.

What is a Boxelder Bug?

bug outside

Boxelder bugs are a kind of beetle that may be found all throughout North America. They are normally harmless, but they are regarded as quite a nuisance since they penetrate dwellings for refuge throughout the winter months, where they often lay dormant until spring.

When the weather begins to warm up again in the spring, you may often see them congregating in sunny spots on the sides of buildings or under boxelder trees.

Boxelder bugs are safe and will ultimately fly away, but if they disturb you, you can spray them with a hose or vacuum them up.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?

Boxelder bugs go through three stages of life: egg, nymph, and adult. Eggs are laid in late summer/early fall and hatch a few weeks later.

Nymphs look identical to adults but are smaller and have no wings. They will molt five times before becoming adults. Adults can live up to two years.

These bugs get their name from the boxelder tree, which is one of the trees that they like to feed on. The adults are black with red or orange patterns on their back and have a flattened, oval-shaped body approximately half an inch long.

They’re roughly an inch long, with a reddish-orange body and black wings. The nymphs resemble the adults, except that they are significantly smaller and brilliant reddish-orange because they lack the black wings that cover their abdomen.

Where Do Boxelder Bugs Come From?

Common black and red hemipteran on a white background.

The boxelder bug is a native insect found in the western United States. They are most commonly located in Nevada but can be found in other states as well.

They are common in many places in the United States and Canada. They tend to concentrate in warm spots where the sun shines in the fall, such as rocks, the sides of buildings, and trees.

Boxelder bugs often live in colonies, and after a big colony has formed, they will relocate to areas such as homes, sheds, or any other sort of building where they can keep warm throughout the winter.

They are a nuisance because they will hide in whatever nook, crevice, or crack they can find in order to insulate themselves. When the temperature heats up again in the spring, they will return to boxelder trees.

What are the Habits of Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bug

Boxelder bugs are a common pest that can be found in many parts of the United States. These pests emerge from hibernation in the spring and return to the host tree. They typically lay their eggs on the tree, and the larvae will feed on the leaves.

In the fall, boxelder bugs will congregate on the trees to feed. They will feed on any fallen seeds and female trees. They will also sometimes feed on plum, apple, or maple trees.

Female Boxelder Bugs

Female boxelder bugs lay eggs in the spring. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which then go through a series of molts before becoming adults.

These female boxelder bugs lay eggs in the fall. The eggs are straw-colored and about 1/16th of an inch long.

Female boxelder bugs are the ones that you will find on boxelder trees. However, they can also lay eggs on other types of trees, in the grass, on stones, and even on houses.

They prefer to lay their eggs near food sources so that their offspring have an easy time finding food when they hatch.

Boxelder Eggs and Nymphs

Female boxelder bugs lay eggs in late summer and fall. The eggs are small, red, and oblong. They will turn a bright red/orange color as the embryos develop. The eggs hatch within 2-3 weeks, and the nymphs will feed on boxelder tree sap until they reach adulthood.

Boxelder bugs go through five stages of development: egg, nymph, pre-adult, adult, and senescent. The eggs are laid in late summer and early fall and hatch within a week.

The nymphs are small and red when they first hatch and will feed on fallen boxelder seeds and newly formed leaves.

They will molt four times before becoming adults. The pre-adults are black with red markings and will start to mate and lay eggs in the fall.

The adults are brownish-black with red markings on the thorax. They will overwinter in sheltered areas until spring, when they will start to mate and lay eggs.

Are Boxelder Bugs Harmful?

Eastern box elder bug (Boisea trivittata) in springtime.

Boxelder bugs are a species of North American bug that feed on boxelder trees. They are not generally harmful to humans and will not bite or sting. While they can be pesky, they do not pose any threat to people or property.

However, have a piercing mouthpart that can occasionally puncture the skin, leaving you with an itchy red spot.

Boxelder bugs are not harmful to human beings, but they can be a nuisance. Their odor is strong and unpleasant, and their fecal matter may leave behind red stains on the fabric.

How To Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs?

When it comes to this sort of insect, the first line of defense is prevention. The likelihood of a house infestation will decrease if you adopt a few easy precautionary actions.

Insecticides for Boxelder Prevention

There are various ways to prevent boxelder bugs from invading your home. The most effective way is to use residual insecticides. This will help to kill any boxelder bugs that come in contact with it. You can also use traps and other deterrents to keep them away.

In addition, spray an insecticide around the exterior walls of your home. You may also concentrate your efforts on areas where these pests like to hide, such as the eaves, attic vents, windows and doors, and any other fissures or points of entry where the bugs could enter.

How To Prevent Boxelder Bugs From Infesting Your Home?

There are a few other ways to prevent boxelder bugs from infesting your home. The most popular way is to seal off any cracks or openings in your home where they could enter.

You can also bring into use a vacuum cleaner to remove them from your home, and you can spray an insecticide on them if they are present.

Besides caulking the cracks and crevices where boxelder bugs might enter, another way to prevent them from invading your home is by using silicone or silicone-latex caulk. This will help to seal off any potential entry points and keep the bugs out.

You can also repair any holes in your window and door screens and install door sweeps on all exterior entrances. If you have an issue with these specific pests, contact a pest control professional for assistance.

How The Killers’ Pest Control Can Help

Boxelder bugs are a common type of bug that can be found in many parts of the United States. While they are not popular to carry any diseases, they can be a major nuisance and should be eradicated by a professional pest control company.

These bugs can be difficult to get rid of, so it is important to take preventative measures and follow the instructions of your exterminator.


Boxelder bugs, more than anything else, are a big-time nuisance. Hopefully, now that you have learned about boxelder bugs, you will be able to safeguard yourself, your pet at home, and your family members from these annoying insects.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.