Box Elder Bugs

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Box Elder Bug Description

Adult boxelder bugs are about 1/2 inch long, flattened on top, elongate-oval in shape, and predominately slate-gray to black. Three red lines run the length of the prothorax. The top of the abdomen is red with two rows of black spots. The underside of the abdomen is alternately striped in red and gray. The legs of a boxelder bug are black.
Utah Box Elder Bug Pest Control


Adult Box Elder Bugs prefer dry, sheltered areas. For this reason, they are often found basking in the sun in large numbers on the south and west side of houses or other buildings. They are also found around the foundations and windows of buildings, in leaves and other debris, under hedges, or in similar places.
When Box Elder Bugs are gathered on the surfaces of homes and buildings in large numbers, it is most often related to the temperature, as Box Elder Bugs prefer warm surfaces. During the winter months, adults can become active on warm winter days and emerge from their hiding places, returning to shelter as temperatures drop at the end of the day.

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Boxelder bugs can feed and develop on many plants, including maple, ash, stonefruits (cherry, plum, peach), apple, grape, strawberry, and grass. However, large numbers are typically found on female boxelder trees where nymphs and adults feed on developing seeds.

Life Cycle & Reproduction

Box Elder Bugs emerge from hibernation in late April to early May (when buds on boxelder trees begin opening). They fly back to host trees, laying eggs in crevices in the tree’s bark and remaining active over the growing season. Eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days into nymphs. The nymphs feed on foliage and seeds by inserting their piercing-sucking mouthparts into these tissues. They continue feeding until they mature into adults. When the nymphs reach adulthood, they mate and produce a second generation that summer. It’s the second generation of Box Elder Bugs that overwinter and emerge the following spring.


Box Elder Bugs frequently become a nuisance pest around homes and buildings but rarely cause economic, aesthetic, or structural damage. Although boxelder bugs are active throughout the summer, they do not generally become a big nuisance until late summer and fall (particularly on the southern and west-facing walls). Boxelder bugs do not bite, sting, or eat food products but can stain carpets and other fabrics.

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