These black and orange colored beetles are known as “true bugs”. Boxelder bugs or Boisea trivittatus, are a nuisance on both the inside and exterior of our homes and other buildings.
During the summer and fall months these black and orange insects might not be as heavily recognized. Yet, as the thermostat drops, and they look for a place to overwinter, the problems arise.
What are Boisea Trivittata?
Boisea Trivittata, or the boxelder bugs, get their moniker because they can be located in the vicinity of boxelder trees. These insects have sucking mouthparts that are capable of puncturing the skin, creating a painful bite.
These black bugs have a body less than an inch long as adults. Besides being black in color, they have thin red lines along their back.
The western states are considered the natural home to this black, red, and orange species of insects.
However, it is not uncommon to find these tiny black pests in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada.
Wherever the boxelder bug may call home, they are a nuisance as they seek shelter to overwinter in, from garages to sheds, to our homes!
You may find these pests in large numbers during the fall as cold weather approaches in search of refuge.
What are the Characteristics of a Boxelder Bug?
These bugs can be recognized by their distinctive markings. A boxelder bug is black, and on its back are bright orange or reddish-colored markings.
The black body is shaped like a long oval, sort of flat, and measures almost half an inch in length. Their head is thinner than the oval body.
They have two antennae nearly half as long as their body, and six legs. The nymphs are sans wings but look like the adult version with a bright red hue.
How Do I Know I Have an Infestation?
When boxelder bugs start to get inside the garage, shed, and even your home, you will have an invasion. It normally happens during the fall, as they prepare to come out in spring. Boxelder bugs enjoy overwintering in these areas, similar to other pests.
After they are finished overwintering, they will leave behind proof of their presence when winter is over.
If a bug gets squashed, a red stain will be left behind. Therefore, if they are inside your house, the best way to get rid of box elder bugs is to vacuum them up.
Important Facts about Boxelder Bugs
- Buildings with lots of exposure towards the west and south are what is attractive to boxelder bugs.
- During the fall season is the best time to take action for controlling these bugs. Do so by sealing off cracks and other openings with insecticides.
- Although they do not create a lot of damage to property, they are capable of staining areas.
- If they get inside your home, physical removal is the only practical means of pest control.
- You won’t have a critical issue with these bugs every year.
What is a Boxelder Bugs Life Cycle
Boxelder bugs first appear as the temperature begins to warm in early spring. The adult bugs feed on the plants and seeds found on the soil in spring and initial days of summer. Shortly after they begin feeding they will start the mating process.
They start looking for the seed-bearing, female boxelder trees beginning mid-July. It is here where they will lay their eggs, on the leaves, branches, and trunks of these trees. Rarely will you find these bugs on the boxelder trees that are male.
You might also notice the boxelder bug feeding on ash or maple trees. Yet, you will not discover any recognizable injury to these trees due to this feeding.
Throughout the summer when boxelder bug populations increase, their nymphs are in gardens or on land feeding. A warm spring that becomes a hot, dry summer is when boxelder bugs appear in abundant numbers.
Where You Might Find Boxelder Bugs
These red and black bugs are not only found in the garden, they also make their way inside your home. In order to get rid of red and black insects, you need to identify and know how dangerous they are.
In the springtime, red-shouldered and boxelder bugs are popular red and black pests found in houses and yards. Although they are a nuisance and annoying, these bugs are typically harmless.
What Makes Boxelder Bugs Appear Threatening
Feelings of panic are normal when coming across a bug with red and black colors. For instance, it can be a scary sight coming upon one of these bugs. Seeing their black, oval-shaped body, with stripes or dots colored brilliant orange or red. We often associate danger with the colors red, black, and orange.
In addition, an insect with red and black markings is more than a little menacing. Some bugs with these markings are also capable of delivering a very painful bite. The insect order Hemiptera is the group in which true bugs belong.
These insects or bugs have two antennae, six legs, and mouthparts that are piercing. These mouthparts permit the bug to bite into and suck out the juices of a plant.
How to Identify Insects that are Red and Black
Besides its black and red coloring, there are ways to identify an insect. These ways include recognizing whether it has two antennae, six legs, and wings or no wings.
You might also notice the size, habitat, distinguishing markings, behavior, and size of the insect. These bugs have a body shape that is elongated and sort of a flat oval.
Some red and black bugs may be tiny, requiring a magnifier to identify them correctly. The young boxelder bugs are referred to as nymphs. Appearing much like the adult boxelder bugs, with black wing buds and a a bright red body.
Signs of an Infestation of Boxelder bugs
An infestation of tiny red and black bugs might appear in areas that are dry and sheltered to overwinter. Areas such as sheds, barns, and woodpiles are all places the adult boxelder bugs prefers.
Boxelder bugs and other plant bugs enjoy eating plants and flowers on the exterior of your home.
Additionally, these bugs enjoy hanging out in large numbers around the casements of windows.
How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs
If you have discovered an infestation of boxelder bugs, you want to get rid of them quickly. The best way to do this is to fix holes in door and window screens.
In addition, use a quality silicone-based caulk to seal crevices and cracks in walls. Apply a layer of caulk made from silicone and latex along all outside entrances and door sweeps.
If the boxelder bugs are inside a building or home you should not try to kill them in voids of the walls. The reason is because deceased bodies of insects are attractive to dermestid beetles, also called carpet and larder beetles.
The best time to get rid of them is when adult boxelder bugs exit wall voids following the overwinter period. Using a vacuum cleaner is the best temporary solution to getting rid of these pests. Ensure you remove the vacuum bag immediately, this averts any captured bugs escaping.
After vacuuming up all bugs you see, use a sealant such as silicone caulk to seal potential entry points. To avert new infestations one should seal off door frames, window pulleys, baseboards, window frames, etcetera.
Additionally, you should take off and replace all cover plates to electrical outlets, heat ducts, air vents, and switch boxes. Replace any ceiling fans and light fixtures, by first taking off the base plate, seal, and fixtures.
Other Insect Pests Related to Boxelder Bugs
Besides boxelder bugs, there are numerous other pests related to them that might cause and infestation. These pests include the barklice or booklice, centipede, mosquitoes, bat bugs, crickets, and aphids.
The list also includes hornets, earwigs, crickets, stink bugs, springtails bugs, and termites. We round the list off with plant bugs, leaf-footed bugs, masked hunters, ticks, weevils, wasps and fleas.
Get Rid of Areas Boxelder Bugs Call Shelter
There are many places for boxelder bugs to find a place to call home. Thus, put screens on doors and windows, and install seals or sweeps on the garage door and other doors. Boxelder bugs love debris piles, so ensure any leaves and other debris are removed from areas close to the house.
The area under a boxelder tree should also be raked free of any seed pods that drop from the tree. Get rid of boxelder trees that are female and replace them with males. The male boxelder trees don’t produce any seed pods.
What do Boxelder Bugs Feed on?
The female boxelder trees are the ones that bear the seeds that boxelder bugs feed upon. However, sometimes these bugs feed on certain fruit trees or ash, maple, and male boxelder trees. When this occurs, these trees will develop small deformities of their leaves and fruits or discoloring of the leaves.
Ways to Prevent Boxelder Bugs
Using an insecticide spray is the best way to prevent boxelder bugs for the short term. Generally speaking, the bugs will not avert from entering your home. However, when they come in contact with the insecticide spray they will die eventually.
During the fall, spray in cracks and crevices along the exterior walls to control these pests. Also, use caulk to seal those cracks around your home to keep the boxelder bug adults out.
When Do Boxelder Bugs Come Out
It does not matter whether the sun is shining bright or the middle of winter; boxelder bugs will appear. They emerge In the spring in search of host trees and seeds, and a place to lay eggs and feed.
In the fall, they search for a place to keep warm during winter. They come inside through cracks in walls and window openings.
How to Correctly Identify Boxelder Bugs
You might not know exactly how a boxelder bug is properly identified or what a boxelder bug may look like as adults. Yet, these insect species have a distinct look.
The abdomen and wings have orange-red stripes or veining; there are not many species of stink bugs with similar markings. The stripes on their abdomen overlap in the shape of an "X".
These bugs have a body that is bright red. The legs have orange markings, and there are six of them. The body is also flat-shaped, with a head more narrow. They have antennae that are about one-half inch in length.
These bugs are sometimes called assassin bugs. Meaning they will patiently lie in areas their prey find attractive, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Assassin bugs have hairs that are sticky on the first set of legs, allowing them to grip prey.
It doesn't matter whether the sun is shining brightly or cold outdoors. Boxelder bugs will emerge in the spring in search of trees to feed upon and a place to lay eggs.
These brilliant red, black, or orange pests with reddish-orange lines on their back are popular throughout the U.S. Adults grow to approximately one-half of an inch long.
Boxelder bugs primarily feed on the juice of box elder trees, yet may also be discovered on maple and other trees. Although they are a nuisance, they seldom do serious damage to the trees to eat upon.
Where are Boxelder Bugs Most Prevalent?
Boxelder bugs may not be as prevalent in the summertime. However, this does not mean they're not an issue. Those tiny pests might be searching for a place in the fall that is warm to overwinter.
Focus on the western exterior walls and to the south when sealing off your house of this bug species.
Should they be sealed indoors, the chance of this bug getting inside in large numbers increases.
These tiny pests are also called maple bugs. Although they mostly enjoy sucking the sap from female boxelder trees, they also create maple and ash trees infestation.
What Damage can Boxelder Bugs Create?
An infestation of boxelder bugs will sometimes cause small deformities in the leaves and fruit. Sometimes resulting in the leaves discoloring and turning yellow.
Typically a boxelder bug comes out in spring in search of host trees to lay their eggs and feed. Sometimes they even appear during winter as the sun is shining but it is still cold outside.
Although this bug species feeds primarily on flowers, leaves, and a tree's seed pods, they don't create too much damage.
How a Boxelder Bug is Identified
Identification of a boxelder bug is by the three narrow red stripes placed right behind the head or prothorax. As an adult, they measure around half of an inch and are black with reddish-orange markings.
To get the correct identification of this bug, contact the local Cooperative Extension Service. Proper identification of this bug will ensure proper eradication measures are applied.
The wings of boxelder bugs are flat, overlapping on the back in the shape of an "X." The nymphs (young boxelder bugs) are tiny at one-sixteenth inch. Upon hatching, nymphs are bright red; as they age, they turn red and black. The boxelder bugs are in the same family as the stink bug and are referred to as "true bugs".
Typically, this species of bug is a pest by presence only. Yet their sucking mouthparts are piercing and may puncture the skin. When this happens, a small skin irritation may result, somewhat like a mosquito bite.
Female boxelder bugs lay their straw-yellow eggs in clusters on shrubs, plants, trees, the crevice of bark, stones, and eaves.
When it's Time to Call a Professional to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs
You need a professional pest control company to get rid of boxelder bugs. To help eliminate this bug species, the technician will use a fast-acting spray on the exterior walls.
The spray used is one made from synthetic pyrethroids. Besides boxelder bugs, it averts drugstore beetle, ladybugs, cluster flies, and other small bug species.
When it's time to call a professional to eliminate insects, call A.N.T. Pest Control. We are the pest control company customers trust year after year.