Boxelder Bug

Boisea trivittatis

Key Features

  • Red and black bugs on trunk
  • Feeding on maple seeds
  • Common on boxelder
Boxelder bug adult
Boxelderbug clusters on boxelder, Phil Pearson, Marion, IN
Boxelderbug clusters, Phil Pearson, Marion, IN


Groups of adult and immature boxelderbugs accumulate on sunny spots on trunks of plants in late summer and early fall. Adults can migrate into homes and become a nuisance pest. Feeding by adults and immatures can distort boxelder leaves. Damage is only of minor cosmetic importance.


Adults lay eggs in spring in cracks and crevices of trunk. Wingless immatures (nymphs) emerge from eggs and crawl to new foliage and seeds to feed. These insects require seeds of boxelder and or other maples to reproduce. In late summer or early fall adults and nymphs crawl the canopy and congregate on trunks. There is one generation per year. Only adults winter.

Management Recommendations

Removal of female boxelder trees is the simplest way to prevent adult boxelderbugs from re-invading a home. If masses of bugs found accumulating on structures are a nuisance, they can be killed with a spray of soapy water (5 Tbsp/gallon). Caulk your windows and doors to prevent entry of these nuisance pests into your home. Perimeter sprays of insecticides can be applied around the foundation of the home to prevent entry of these insects into the structure. Consider hiring a pest control professional to apply the products. DO NOT APPLY pesticides that are labeled to apply to your home (e.g. Ortho Home Defense) on plants. These materials are formulated to stick to structures and may burn your plants.

Effective Pesticides

Active Ingredients include: Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, Fluvalinate, Insecticidal soap (Potassium salt of fatty acid), Malathion, Permethrin

landscape report
Purdue Landscape Report
Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory