Boxelder Bug (Boisea trivittata) Information


The Boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) also called maple bugs are most commonly seen on the Boxelder Maple tree. The Boxelder bug feed  on the female tree’s seed-boxes and are also found on orchard plantations and strawberry plants. The boxelder bug can be found coming into the homes during the Fall and the cold winter seasons. They however, do not cause any direct damage in homes.

The adult boxelder bug measures around an inch long and are  black or red  in color with orange or red lines around the behind of head and wings as well as the stomach. While the adult boxelder bug have wings overlapping the smaller boxelder bugs do not have well-developed wings and are orange or red in color. The Boxelder Bug’s latin or scientific name is Boisea trivittata.

BoxElder Bug

An adult Boxelder Bug

The Boxelder bug will eat up all soft parts of the boxelder tree be it leaves, stems or even flowers. The boxelder bug will invade homes only in the winter looking for places to hibernate in. They do not cause any harm to humans but do leave behind large spots in the places they invade with their excreta. The Boxelder bug usually will try to hibernate in the crevices of walls during the cooler seasons but when it is warmer they become more active and invade homes. The Boxelder bug can be easily managed if populations get out of hand.

During spring they feast for about 2 weeks and then in summer the boxelder bug will mate and lay their eggs on leaves and barks of trees. So when the eggs hatch during this time around 60 – 70 days after they feed on the sap of plants and trees and suck the juice from leaves and soft seeds with sharp beaks. Then they become mature by the autumn and hibernate for the winter. So on the life cycle continues. These bugs are pests on the trees and are better eliminated.

Boxelder bug Prevention

  • To avoid them coming into the houses is to fill up cracks and crevices in the buildings and garden sheds. This way they will not hibernate anywhere in the house
  • To cut off the female trees as box elder bugs infest these trees mainly
  • Using acid and earth as bug repellents
  • The exterior of the home should be treated using bug repellents
  • You will find they even perish if a soap solution is sprayed on them directly
  • If you find them in the house use sticky tape to seal the openings of cracks and pull out these bugs who stick to the tape
  • In the house just vacuum clean and you can get rid of them
  • Using insecticide is okay provided it is safe in the house. The  best is to not them enter the house.
boxelder bug

An adult boxelder bug

As can be seen, the boxelder bug are not only pests to deal with in the garden or plantations but also indoors in your homes. Using a little discretion, they can be eliminated from both. Maybe you do not want to cut your trees so you could spray special insecticides which will not harm the shrubs, plants and trees.

While the boxelder bug can cause considerable damage if in large numbers, their damage to trees is quite less. However, when they are many in number they can cause quite a lot of damage to trees. Since come autumn they hibernate in cracks, they hide in there for the entire cool season being inactive. In the event of homes being heated for the winter, the boxelder bug are also revived from their hibernation and their life cycle continues. By the time it spring, the Boxelder bug continue their cycle of laying eggs and multiplying in great numbers. The Boxelder bug mate in batches connected one end to the other and in groups of 3-4.

What is the difference of the female Boxelder tree from the male Boxelder tree?

What is the difference of the female Boxelder tree from the male Boxelder tree?

Boxelder tree infestation

Boxelder trees have the female and the male. These two aids the trees in reproducing. There is a lot of difference between the two and they are easy to distinguish from each other. While both trees possess blossoms, they have different looking ones. The female has blossoms that are lengthy, hanging, and elongated while the males have small and erect ones. The female Boxelder trees produce seeds while the male doesn’t. The seeds can last until winter for the female trees unlike other trees. The female Boxelder trees are the most preferred trees of the Boxelder bugs, they become the host for the bugs where they feed and reproduce. Although the bugs cannot damage the trees itself, they can still ruin the leaves by leaving yellow spots or the fruits by eating them. The male trees do not attract the bugs so if the owners are planning to eliminate the Boxelder bugs, they can choose to uproot the female trees or just plant male ones instead.

What are the parts of a Boxelder bug’s lifecycle?

The Boxelder bugs stay outdoors during spring and summer where they feed and reproduce.

box elder bug During fall and winter, they relocate to find shelter from the cold season. The bugs usually last until a few days or a week during this time. Surviving bugs leave their shelter during the beginning of spring to again feed and reproduce. Nymphs that can be seen during fall cannot last until the winter and only adult bugs can survive after the cold season. The Boxelder bug’s lifecycle is considered an incomplete metamorphosis in three stages. First are the eggs, the eggs of the bug starts from orange in color, then turns into red as days pass. The bugs lay their eggs on the host plant and it usually spends 11- 19 days before it hatches. Nymphs, who are usually present at fall, starts as red, then turns darker to dark red, until the reach dark brown or black. Last is the adult stage where the boxelder bugs would feed and then eventually reproduce during summer. The cycle would repeat after the next generation is born.

Which tree do the Boxelder bugs choose to reproduce?

Which tree do the Boxelder bugs choose to reproduce?

boxelder bugs

The Boxelder bug, after coming out of their hibernation, will feed during spring and early summer. They reproduce around summer and they choose to reproduce on Boxelder trees. These trees can also be known as the maple tree, ash maple, or the American maple. The bugs would lay orange colored eggs on the leaves and the color would gradually change from orange to red as the embryo advances. After 10 days, the nymphs or young bugs would come out and their first color is red. They will only start to darken after some time starting from dark red, dark brown, until it reaches black. The bug’s eyes will be red and the veins that would cover its abdomen, head and sides will be the same color. The reproduction of the bugs will take place on the female Boxelder trees. These trees have the male and the female to aid them for their reproduction. Boxelder bugs choose to lay their eggs on the female species.

Where do Boxelder bugs live?

Where do Boxelder bugs live?

boxelder bug side

Boxelder bugs can usually be found in North America, Guatemala, Eastern United States, Southern Canada, and Mexico. They can also be seen at the east of the Rocky Mountains. The boxelder bugs breeds in forests or anywhere with deciduous trees.  The usual hosts for these bugs are the maple ash, bigtooth maple, soft maple, silver maple, trident maple, river maple and the soapberry. They do not stay in the forest forever though. During the late fall or winter season, the boxelder bugs would transfer to buildings, houses, or any structure that they can receive warmth. Although they are inactive during the cooler days, they will become mobile once they feel the temperature change. Sometimes, when winter ends, the boxelder bugs would return to the forest but some bugs will end up trapped in the home or building. They cannot reproduce here just like in the forest.

What is the range of distribution of the stink bugs?

What is the range of distribution of the stink bugs?

developing boxelder bug

Stink bugs can be seen all over the world even in your backyard. You can see them in forests, fields, and plantations. An example of stink bug is the Boxelder bug commonly found in North America where there is actually a total of 250 species of stink bugs. All around the world, there are 4,700 species based on entomologists with 900 genera. The bugs usually live on trees, shrubs, or rocks where there is food for them and moisture. Some stink bugs also turn carnivore even though they started as herbivores. They are the predatory in nature. They usually suck plant fluids that will then damage the foliage or for the Boxelder bug’s case, it can leave yellow or brown spots on the plant. The boxelder bug can be found in the forests of, Guatemala, Eastern United States, Southern Canada, and Mexico but they will transfer in winter.