Boxelder bugs are medium sized insects. The adult boxelder bug is about 3/4 of an inch long, black, flattened, and has red or orange veins in the wings giving the appearance of stripes. The body of the boxelder bug beneath the wings is bright red or orange. Boxelder bugs may produce either one or two generations of young. The first young boxelder bugs emerge in the spring and early summer. These insects may range in size from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch in length and due to the lack of wings, appear bright red or orange.
The boxelder bugs take shelter primarily beneath the loose bark of boxelder trees, hence the name, but if suitable tree shelter is not available, they will take refuge behind siding, in woodpiles, leaf litter, stone piles, or other sheltered places around the home. The insects feed on seed bearing boxelder trees but seldom do any real damage. If there are no boxelder trees, the bugs may feed on ash, maple, plum, cherry, apple, and peach trees, and grapes or strawberries.
Boxelder bugs begin laying eggs in late April to early May. The eggs are dark red or orange and can be found in cracks, crevices, under tree bark and siding, leaves, wood piles and other sheltered places or even on the foundation or siding of the home. The eggs are about the size of a pin head and will be found in clusters of 5 to 20 eggs and the eggs will hatch in 11 to 13 days.
In the fall months the adult and large nymphal boxelder bugs gather in large numbers and begin to seek shelter to spend the winter. The insects will take shelter in cracks and crevices around the home, under siding, around windows, in stone or leaf piles, and any other sheltered place. Only adult Boxelder bugs will overwinter and can fly up to 2 miles to find these sheltered places. On warm winter days the bugs may emerge from their hiding spots.
While boxelder bugs aren't harmfull, they can be a nuisance when they get inside the home. A professional pest control company can eliminate boxelder bug infestations in and around your home or business and these service technicians have the experience to do the job right. If you choose to do your own boxelder bug control, a general use insecticide spray or dust should be used, primarily along the foundation of the structure and around windows and doors. The bark of any boxelder trees can also be treated to eliminate populations that are living there.