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The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 31 March 2003

Box Elder Bugs

Timothy J. Gibb, Department of Entomology, Purdue University

Warm sunny days in late winter or early spring often bring out boxelder bugs from cracks, crevices, under siding or other hiding spots in or around homes. These bugs can be found either inside or on the outside of homes or other residential buildings. While they do not bite people nor harm the home or its contents, they can still be a nuisance, particularly when they occur in large numbers.

Boxelder bugs derive their name from the boxelder tree where they feed and reproduce during the summer months. They also live on ash, maple, plum, cherry, peach, pear and other trees, however. Damage to the trees by boxelder bugs is minimal and does not justify controls.

However, homeowners with constantly reoccurring boxelder bug problems in their homes have found that spraying their host trees during the late summer, when the bugs are still concentrated there, is helpful. If only a single tree is the source of the problem and if that tree is of no particular value, its removal will provide long term control.

After feeding and reproducing in trees during the summer months, boxelder bugs are attracted to homes and other buildings where they seek shelter from the winter. To prevent them from entering homes, insecticides labeled for Œperimeter application against occasional invading insects‚ can be used. These must be applied during the fall to the outside perimeter of the home and must be used according to label directions. Once boxelder bugs find their way inside a home, it is usually best to remove them physically by sweeping or vacuuming them up.

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Box Elder Bug

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Last updated: 2 April 2003/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University