Serving Edmonton for over 120 years

 Boxelder Bugs


Size: Boxelder bugs are approximately 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in length.
Color: They are typically dark brown or black, with striking reddish or orange markings on their wings and bodies.
Description: Boxelder bugs have a life cycle closely tied to their host trees, emerging in the spring and laying their eggs on leaves or bark. Once hatched, the nymphs feed on plant sap and undergo several molts before maturing into adults. As temperatures drop, they often seek shelter indoors, leading to infestations in homes and buildings.

Boxelder bugs, scientifically known as Boisea trivittata, are common household pests, often appearing in large numbers. They derive their name from their primary host, the boxelder tree, though they can also be found on other maple and ash trees. Adult boxelder bugs measure about half an inch in length, showcasing dark brown or black bodies with distinct reddish-orange markings on their wings and thorax. Their elongated, oval-shaped bodies are a characteristic feature. They are sap-sucking insects and are generally not harmful to humans but can become a nuisance when they enter homes in search of shelter during the colder months.

Identifying Boxelder bugs involves observing their distinct appearance and characteristics. Here’s how to identify Boxelder bugs:

  1. Body Shape: Boxelder bugs have elongated, oval-shaped bodies. They are relatively flat and somewhat shield-shaped, especially when their wings are folded over their bodies.
  2. Wings: When at rest, the wings of Boxelder bugs overlap, forming an X-shaped pattern on their back.
  3.  Antennae: They have long, segmented antennae.
  4.  Nymphs: Young Boxelder bugs, known as nymphs, appear similar in coloration but lack the fully developed wings of adults. Their coloration can be more vibrant and may change as they mature.
  5. Habitat: Boxelder bugs are often found on or near Boxelder trees, but they can also be found on other maple and ash trees. They feed on plant sap by piercing the plant’s tissue with their needle-like mouthparts.
  6. Behaviour: During colder months, Boxelder bugs may seek shelter indoors, becoming household pests. They are not typically harmful to humans but can become a nuisance when they gather in large numbers within homes.

By keeping an eye out for these key characteristics, you can accurately identify Boxelder bugs. This knowledge can be helpful for pest management and prevention strategies, particularly during the fall and winter when they may seek refuge indoors.

Recognizing signs of a boxelder bug infestation is crucial for timely intervention. Here are common signs that you may have boxelder bugs:

  1. Swarms on Exterior Walls: During the late summer and early fall, you may notice swarms of boxelder bugs congregating on the exterior walls of your home, especially on sunny sides.
  2. Entry into Buildings: As temperatures drop, boxelder bugs often seek shelter indoors. If you see them inside your home, especially around windows, doors, or near vents, it’s a clear sign of their presence.
  3. Distinctive Appearance: Boxelder bugs are identifiable by their unique appearance – dark brown or black bodies with striking red or orange markings on their wings and thorax.
  4. Stains: When crushed or handled, boxelder bugs can release a reddish-orange, foul-smelling substance that can stain surfaces. These stains may be visible on walls, curtains, or other items.
  5. Nymphs: In the spring, you might notice the presence of boxelder bug nymphs. They are smaller and lack the full adult coloration but have a similar shape.
  6. Host Trees: Boxelder bugs are associated with boxelder trees, but they can also infest other maples and ash trees. If these trees are on your property, it increases the likelihood of boxelder bugs.
  7. Overwintering: During the winter months, boxelder bugs tend to overwinter in sheltered areas like wall voids, attics, and crawl spaces. Their presence in these locations may indicate an infestation.
  8. Clusters: When you observe boxelder bugs clustered in large numbers, particularly around entry points like windows, doors, and vents, it’s a strong indicator of an infestation.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s advisable to take action to address the boxelder bug infestation promptly, which may involve implementing preventive measures, sealing entry points, or seeking professional pest control assistance.

To prevent boxelder bugs and manage infestations, consider these effective strategies:

  1. Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for gaps and cracks, particularly around windows, doors, vents, and utility penetrations. Seal these entry points to prevent boxelder bugs from gaining access to your living spaces.
  2. Remove Host Trees: If possible, remove female boxelder or other host trees from your property to minimize the presence of boxelder bugs in the vicinity.
  3. Install Screens: Ensure windows, doors, and vents are fitted with fine mesh screens to block bug entry.
  4. Remove Debris: Regularly clear leaves, seeds, and plant debris from around your home’s foundation to discourage boxelder bugs from congregating.
  5. Use Insecticides: Apply insecticides in consultation with local pest management professionals when necessary to manage severe infestations.
  6. Consider Professional Help: If boxelder bugs are causing significant problems, consult with a pest control professional to devise an effective control plan.
  7. Preventive Action: To avoid boxelder bug infestations, act proactively during the fall season, sealing entry points and taking preventative measures as temperatures drop.
  8. Cautious Handling: If you encounter boxelder bugs indoors, avoid squashing them, as they may release an unpleasant odour. Instead, carefully collect and remove them.
  9. Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Employ a combination of preventive measures, such as sealing entry points, and targeted pesticide use in consultation with professionals for a comprehensive pest management strategy.
  10. Stay Informed: Keep abreast of local pest management recommendations specific to your region to tailor your approach effectively.

By implementing these preventive measures and recognizing boxelder bugs, you can effectively control and manage infestations in your home.


est. 1900

Don't Let Bugs Get the Best of You


est. 1900

Don't Let Bugs Get the Best of You