Boxelder Bugs in Boise, Idaho


Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) are considered by many to be a nuisance pest in Boise, Idaho. In this blog, we'll delve into the world of Boxelder beetles, learning how to identify the bugs and what you can do to get rid of boxelder beetles.

What are Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata), also known as boxelder beetles or maple bugs, are small insects belonging to the true bug family Rhopalidae. These unique creatures are named after their preferred host tree, the boxelder (Acer negundo), although they can also be found on other maple species. Boxelder beetles are known for their distinctive black and red or orange coloration, making them easily identifiable.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?

Adult boxelder bugs typically measure around half an inch in length. Their bodies are predominantly black, adorned with eye-catching red or orange markings on the wings and elytra. The vibrant coloration serves as a warning signal to predators, indicating that these beetles are not suitable for consumption.

Are Boxelder Bugs Dangerous?

No, boxelder beetles are not considered dangerous to humans. They do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases. However, their large congregations can become a nuisance, especially when they seek shelter in and around homes. While they don't pose a direct threat, their presence in significant numbers may prompt homeowners to seek ways to manage and control them.

When Are Boxelder Bugs Active in Boise?

 In Boise, Idaho, you can expect boxelder bugs to become more active from late spring through early fall. They are particularly noticeable in the fall when they seek shelter to overwinter.

During warmer days, boxelder bugs may be active, feeding on the seeds of boxelder trees or other related plants. As temperatures drop in the fall, they often gather in large numbers on the sunny sides of buildings or structures, seeking warmth. Boxelder bugs can become pests when they enter homes in search of shelter.

Signs of a Boxelder Bug Infestation in Your Boise Home

Identifying signs of a Boxelder bug infestation is crucial for early intervention and effective pest control. Here are common signs that indicate the presence of a Boxelder bug infestation:

Swarming and Congregations: One of the most noticeable signs is the presence of large congregations or swarms of Boxelder bugs on exterior walls, windows, rocks, or other structures. These clusters can become particularly prominent during the fall as the bugs seek shelter for overwintering.

Red or Orange Stains: Boxelder bugs release a staining substance when crushed or squished. If you notice red or orange stains on surfaces, it may indicate the presence of Boxelder bugs.

Fecal Droppings: Boxelder bugs may leave fecal droppings on surfaces where they congregate. These droppings are small, dark pellets and may accumulate around their hiding spots.

Visible Nymphs and Adults: Both nymphs and adult Boxelder bugs can be seen on boxelder trees, walls, or windows. The nymphs are smaller and have a more distinct red coloration.

Noise: In some cases, especially if the infestation is large, you may hear a faint buzzing or rattling noise produced by the movement of Boxelder bugs, particularly when they are in large clusters.

Indoor Presence: If Boxelder bugs have found their way into your home, you may find them inside, especially during the fall and winter months. They may gather in attics, wall voids, or other sheltered areas.

If you observe these signs, it's advisable to take prompt action to manage the infestation. Implementing preventive measures, such as sealing entry points and removing attractants, can help minimize the impact. If the infestation is severe, seeking the assistance of pest control professionals may be necessary for effective and targeted control measures.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Getting rid of boxelder beetles involves a combination of preventive measures, natural remedies, and, if necessary, targeted control methods. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to effectively manage and eliminate boxelder bugs in Boise:

  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for cracks, gaps, and openings. Seal any entry points with caulk or weather stripping to prevent Boxelder bugs from entering your home. Focus on windows, doors, and gaps around utility lines.
  • Remove Host Trees: For a more permanent solution, consider removing or reducing boxelder and other maple trees near your home. This reduces the attractiveness of your property to Boxelder bugs.
  • Use Insecticides: Apply insecticides labeled for boxelder bugs on the exterior of your home. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product carefully. Consider hiring a professional pest control service for more effective treatment.
  • Vacuuming: Use a vacuum cleaner to physically remove Boxelder bugs from surfaces. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag or canister promptly, preferably away from the house.
  • Soapy Water Solution: Create a solution by mixing mild dish soap with water. Spray this insecticidal soap mixture directly on Boxelder bugs to kill them. Repeat as needed, especially for bugs found indoors.
  • Use of Garlic Spray: Make a garlic spray by mixing crushed garlic cloves with water. Spray this solution around the perimeter of your home to create a natural barrier that repels Boxelder bugs.
  • Neem Oil: Neem oil is also a natural insect repellent. Mix neem oil with water and spray it on areas where Boxelder bugs gather. It acts as a deterrent and disrupts their feeding and reproductive processes.
  • Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth in areas where Boxelder bugs are present. This powdery substance is harmless to humans and pets but dehydrates and kills insects.
  • Essential Oils: Use essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil. Mix them with water and spray the solution in areas where Boxelder bugs congregate. These oils act as natural repellents.
  • Beneficial Predators: Encourage natural predators like spiders, ladybugs, and birds that feed on Boxelder bugs. Creating a welcoming environment for these predators helps control the insect population.
  • Remove Attractants: Keep the exterior of your home free from debris, leaves, and other organic matter that may attract Boxelder bugs. Regularly clean gutters and downspouts to eliminate potential hiding spots.
  • Plant Resistant Plants: Choose trees and shrubs that are less attractive to Boxelder bugs when landscaping your property.
  • Professional Pest Control: If the infestation is severe or persistent, consider consulting with a professional pest control service. They can assess the situation and provide targeted treatments.

If you are currently dealing with a boxelder bug infestation in the Boise area, make sure to reach out to Affinity Pest Control! Our team of experienced pest exterminators will be able to help identify entry point, provide targeted treatments, and recurring applications to ensure that your home stays bug-free year-round. Contact our team today to learn more!



FAQ About Maple Bugs

What Trees Attract Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) are primarily associated with boxelder trees (Acer negundo), which serve as their primary host. However, these insects can also be found on other types of trees. Here are some tree species that may attract Boxelder bugs:

  • Boxelder Trees: As the name suggests, boxelder bugs have a strong affinity for boxelder trees. These deciduous trees are native to North America and are commonly found in various landscapes.
  • Maple Trees: Besides boxelder trees, Boxelder bugs may also infest other maple tree species. Maples are closely related to boxelders, and certain varieties may attract these insects.
  • Ash Trees: Some reports suggest that Boxelder bugs may be found on ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), especially if these trees are in close proximity to boxelder trees.
  • Fruit Trees: Boxelder bugs may occasionally be found on fruit trees, such as apple or cherry trees. However, they are not as commonly associated with fruit trees as they are with boxelders.
  • Oak Trees: While not a preferred host, Boxelder bugs may be found on oak trees (Quercus spp.) in certain situations.

It's important to note that while Boxelder bugs may be present on these trees, boxelder trees remain their primary choice for feeding, reproduction, and overwintering. If you have boxelder trees near your home, you may be more likely to encounter Boxelder bugs.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) primarily feed on the seeds of boxelder trees (Acer negundo), which is their preferred host plant. However, they are not strictly limited to boxelder seeds and may also consume the seeds of other maple trees. The feeding behavior of Boxelder bugs is most active during the warmer months when they are in the nymph and adult stages.

In addition to seeds, Boxelder bugs have been observed feeding on the sap of various trees, including boxelder, maple, and occasionally ash trees. They use their needle-like mouthparts to pierce the plant tissues and extract sap. While feeding on sap, they may also excrete waste, which can lead to the formation of red or orange stains on surfaces.

It's important to note that Boxelder bugs do not feed on blood, humans, or pets. They are not considered harmful in terms of biting or transmitting diseases. However, their feeding habits and large congregations can be a nuisance, especially when they seek shelter in and around homes during the fall and winter months.

What Attracts Boxelder Beetles to Your Home?

Several factors can attract Boxelder beetles to your home. Understanding these factors can help you take preventive measures to minimize their presence. Here are some reasons why Boxelder beetles might be drawn to your home:

  • Host Trees: The presence of boxelder trees (Acer negundo) near your home is a significant attractant. Boxelder beetles lay their eggs on boxelder trees, and the seeds serve as a primary food source for both nymphs and adults.
  • Warmth: Boxelder beetles seek warmth, especially as the weather cools in the fall. Sunny sides of buildings, particularly those with a southern exposure, can attract these insects looking for a cozy spot to overwinter.
  • Building Structures: Boxelder beetles are often attracted to the vertical surfaces of buildings, walls, and rocks. They may congregate on these structures in large numbers.
  • Cracks and Crevices: Entry points into homes, such as wall voids, crevices in walls, gaps around windows and doors, and other openings, provide easy access for Boxelder beetles seeking shelter.
  • Light-Colored Surfaces: Light-colored surfaces, including light-colored buildings or objects, may attract Boxelder beetles. They are visually drawn to these surfaces, especially when seeking warmth.
  • Debris and Organic Matter: Accumulation of leaves, debris, and organic matter around the exterior of your home can create hiding spots and attract Boxelder beetles. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help reduce their harborage areas.
  • Previous Infestations: If your home has experienced Boxelder beetle infestations in the past, it might be more susceptible to future occurrences. Residual scents and pheromones can attract new beetles.
  • Fruit Trees: While boxelder trees are the preferred host, Boxelder beetles may also be attracted to fruit trees, such as apple or cherry trees, especially if they are nearby.

What Is The Life Cycle of Boxelder Bugs?

Understanding the life cycle of Boxelder beetles provides valuable insights into their behavior. These insects undergo incomplete metamorphosis, consisting of three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Female Boxelder beetles lay their eggs on host trees, particularly boxelder (Acer negundo) and occasionally on other maple species. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which undergo several molts before reaching adulthood.

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