What is a Box Elder Bug? - Terminix West Mich - Terminix West Michigan Blog

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What is a Box Elder Bug?

Box elder bugs are small to medium sized beetle-like insects that are mainly black to dark brown with three noticeable red stripes. One stripe is located behind the insect’s head while the other two are positioned along the sides of their bodies. They are named for their favorite host, which is the box elder tree. When it comes to agricultural pests, box elder bugs are not that destructive. If they cause damage, it is typically slight. The pest is a bigger problem for homeowners because the cold weather inspires them to seek shelter, and when they do, hundreds and even thousands of the bugs make themselves comfortable inside homes.

What is the Life Cycle of the Box Elder Bug?

box elderBox elder bugs live through the winter months by climbing beneath plant debris or under loose tree bark. They also seek shelter in homes, outbuildings and garages. When spring arrives, they emerge to feed on box elder seeds as well as on other vegetation. The pests will usually eat for about two weeks before beginning the mating cycle. This requires the female bugs to fly up into box elder trees to lay eggs on the underside of leaves and seedpods. Box elder bug seeds hatch within 10 to 14 days. You’ll see the bugs all summer long and during the fall. However, only adult box elder bugs are able to withstand the cold temperatures of winter. 

What Kind of Damage do Box Elder Bugs Cause?

Box elder bugs suck the sap of plants. They prefer their meals to come from greenery that’s in the acer family, which includes the box elder tree. However, in a pinch, they will eat fruit. If a box elder tree winds up with an infestation of the pests, its leaves may become yellow or begin to curl. Spots may also appear on stems and a tree’s new growth. Most trees are able to survive a box elder bug infestation while bug damage to fruit is generally cosmetic and may look like divots or bruises. 

If the bugs move indoors with you, they won’t contaminate your food, but they do emit an unpleasant odor. They are a source of filth, and it’s never good to have a bug infestation regardless of the type. 

Pest Control for Box Elder Bugs 

While these are not pests that transmit diseases to people or bite, they’re still bugs that like to live indoors. If they move in with you, then they might do so in large numbers. They are also known for flying from room to room in search of other safe places to hide. When it comes to pests, it’s always better to turn to the experts. If you do for a box elder bug infestation, then you’ll have the confidence of knowing that the bugs are gone completely and for good.

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