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Boxelder BugsBoisea trivittata (Say)
Boxelder Bugs Identification
Black with reddish or orange markings on dorsum
Elongate-oval, somewhat flattened with head narrower than pronotum
1/2” (11-14 mm)
What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?
If you come across black and orange bugs, you may be seeing boxelder bugs. These types of insects have black with reddish or orange markings on their back in the form of a pattern, adult boxelder bugs have a body shape that is a somewhat-flattened and elongated oval and is about half an inch long. They have six legs and two antennae that are typically half of their body length. Nymphs look similar to adults but lack wings and are bright red in color instead of the familiar black and orange pattern.
Signs of a Boxelder Bug Infestation
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. Signs of an infestation include red stains on cloth items like curtains or clothing.
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Do Boxelder Bugs Bite?
Boxelder bugs are not known to bite, but their piercing-sucking mouthparts can occasionally puncture skin, causing a slight irritation and producing a red spot similar to a mosquito bite. This is another reason why it’s best to avoid them.
Boxelder Bugs Information
Where Do Boxelder Bugs Live?
Overwintering adult boxelder bugs emerge from hibernation in late March to early April when the boxelder buds open. During this time, the adults leave their overwintering sites to return to their host trees for the warmer months. They first feed on fallen boxelder seeds and later move to the female boxelder trees or maple trees where they eat newly developing leaves. Occasionally, these black and orange bugs will feed on the fruits of plum and apple trees.
The females lay clusters of straw-yellow eggs on stones, eaves, grass, shrubs and trees – especially in the bark crevices of boxelder trees. The eggs turn red as the embryos develop and hatch about two weeks later. The nymphs feed on fallen boxelder seeds and later on new leaves. There are two generations per year in the warmer regions of the United States.
In the fall, boxelder bugs become gregarious and congregate on the south side of rocks, trees and buildings where the sun hits. After large masses gather, they migrate to nearby buildings or homes to overwinter. These black and orange bugs tend to hide in small cracks and crevices in walls to insulate themselves from the cold winter temperatures. In late March to early April, adults leave their overwintering sites to return to their host trees for the warmer months.
Can Boxelder Bugs Hurt You?
Inside, boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest, meaning they shouldn’t be considered a threat. This is because they don’t typically intend to bite humans. However, if you notice the distinctive black and orange pattern of these bugs, you should avoid them, as their mouths can irritate your skin like a bite.
Their fecal material can cause a red stain on curtains, drapes, clothing, etc. Like stink bugs, when crushed or handled roughly, boxelder bugs can also produce a strong, disagreeable odor. This is why it is often recommended you contact an exterminator instead of trying to handle an infestation on your own.