Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) are also known as maple bugs, as they are commonly found on maple trees, the boxelder maple tree (Acer negundo) in particular. These bugs prefer to feed on the female seed-bearing boxelder trees, but occasionally eat strawberry and other orchard trees too.
Usually, they don't cause any significant damage to the plants and trees they inhabit, and are not considered agricultural pests. However, these bugs may enter your household during winters, and can be a nuisance. Boxelder bugs are nuisance pests that can be prevented and controlled in many ways.
- As they are mainly found on the female boxelder trees, many people cut down these trees, to eliminate these bugs.
- Another method is to seal the cracks and crevices in the building to avoid the entry of these insects. Fill extra spaces or holes made for cable TV wires, telephone lines, and pipes.
- You can get the exterior of your house treated with insecticides, for repelling boxelder bugs.
- Boric acid and/or diatomaceous earth can also be used as repellents.
- You can also kill these bugs by spraying a solution of soap and water, directly on them.
- A strip of duct tape can also be helpful in getting rid of these bugs. They will stick to the adhesive tape, which facilitates easier disposal.
- Wasp and hornet insecticides can be sprayed on these bugs, to kill them. Aerosol sprays are also helpful in killing these insects instantly.
It is always better to avoid insecticides inside the house. The best method to eliminate boxelder bugs is to prevent them from entering the premises.
Facts about Boxelder Bugs
An average adult boxelder bug has a body length of about half an inch. These bugs are black or brown, with reddish-orange lines on the back of the head (prothorax), wings, and the abdomen. They have overlapping wings, which lay flat over their bodies, when they rest. Juveniles are smaller, and are usually red or orange, but they lack fully developed wings.
Boxelder bugs feed on the softer parts of the plant, like the leaves, flowers, and new stems. They don't bother humans till the onset of winter, when they invade buildings in search of hibernation sites. Though no damage is caused by these insects, sometimes they can stain the building with their excrement. This happens in case of large-scale infestation.
When it is cool, they tend to remain inside the crevices of the walls; but on warmer days, they become active, and enter the house. With the onset of spring, boxelders emerge from their hibernation sites, and start feeding for about two weeks, till summer. During summers, they mate and lay eggs on the barks and leaves.
Each female can deposit almost 230 eggs, and the eggs hatch after a period of around 10 to 14 days. They feed on the sap of the plant by inserting their pointed beaks into the leaves, fruits, and soft seeds. The development of the nymphal stage takes 60 to 70 days. They reach maturity by fall, and start hibernation by winter; and the life cycle continues.