Biology & Reproduction
The Boxelder name was given to these beetles because they are typically a major pest to boxelder trees. They can easily be identified by their appearance as well, black with red stripes and long, thin antenna. Boxelders are an overwintering bug, so they are most commonly active in the warmer months. After hibernation, females will lay clusters of yellow eggs on stones, leaves, grass, shrubs, and trees, especially in the crevices of boxelder trees. As the eggs develop, they’ll turn from a yellow to red color, and then hatch in about two weeks.
Their hibernation usually ends around late April to early May, when boxelder buds begin to form, and will fly back to their host tree. Nymphs will feed only on boxelder seeds, while the adults will feed on the seeds and leaves of the tree. Along with the boxelder tree, they can also be found eating the fruits of plum and apple trees and silver maple trees. In the autumn they will begin to prepare for hibernation. Clusters of them will congregate on rocks, trees, and buildings where the sun hits. Boxelder bugs are considered a big nuisance for a few reasons. One is that they prefer to find shelter from the winter season in the interior of structures. Another is that if they’re crushed they’ll produce a pungent odor, and their fecal material will leave a red stain on clothes, curtains, and other resting areas. Be aware that box elder bugs are capable of biting, and their bite can cause skin irritation and red bumps.
There is no effective do-it-yourself treatment for these pests once they gain access inside. Preventative action is the best way to reduce the risk of an interior infestation. Sometimes, a dead boxelder will attract other beetles, so it’s best to let us handle the situation.