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(Left) Box Elder Bug. Often confused with the Milkweed Bug (right).

Box Elder eating pollen.

Eggs laid on a top of an Acer leaf.

Stages of a nymph box elder bug.

Nickname:  Box Elder Bug, Zug Bug, Maple Bug

Scientific Name: Boisea Trivittata

Appearance/Size: Adults are about 1/2 inch in length. Normally dark brown or black body with orange/red outline; eggs are reddish-brown.  Nymphs are mostly red with emerging black.

Prefered Habitat: Warm/Shaded areas. Around man-made structures, Acer tree’s, shrubs etc. They will hibernate under siding  where they will nest colonies.

Reproduction: Females will lay as many as 30 eggs, which will hatch in as little as 10-20 days. Incomplete metamorphisis; 3 stages being Egg, Nymph and adult. They undergo 5 instars in the nymph stage. Females will NOT reproduce in overwintering months.

Eat: (Prefered Diet) Acer grandidentatum (Bigtooth Maple), Acer negundo(Box Elder or Maple Ash), Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple, River Maple, or Soft Maple), Acer buergerianum (Trident Maple), and Sapindus saponaria (Soapberry). Although when food is scarce, the Box Elder Bug will eat pretty much any type of vegetation.

Side Notes: Because of the bad taste these creatures will emit, there are not many natural predators for this bug. To treat box elder bugs, first remove any Acer trees in the area. If problems continue, use insecticidal soap everywhere you see them. Spray them directly, the spots they migrated, spots you think they might migrate, and where they lay their nests. The best cure is prevention. Take away their food source and make them want to live somewhere else. These bugs are not considered a threat to agriculture, as they appear to feed on trees mainly from the Acer familiy, or a specific plant called Acer negundo, a type of maple tree native to North America, better known as the “Box Elder Tree”. These at no point have ever been known to fight off other bugs. They will not do reputable damage to an indoor garden, but you should remove them on site. They will eat holes in the foliage of your plants.

The Cure: The first thing you will want to do is locate, and destroy any female Box Elder Tree’s (Acer Family). If that doesn’t work, borax, fossil shell flour, diatomaceous earth and insecticides are the most practical thing to use. If they are already in your home, a vacuum cleaner and some patience is about your best bet. Not many other insects (if any) enjoy killing/eating box elder bugs because of the foul odor they emit. It is important to know that box elder bugs are relentless, and we still don’t have a “cure” for them; so we can only do our best to combat what we can. Their fast, and plentiful reproductive rate is a powerful combination that leaves many homeowners ecstatic.


Click to check prices! Description
Borax (Boric Acid)- Boric Acid Powder also called boracic acid or orthoboric acid or Acidum Boricum, is a weak acid often used as an antiseptic, insecticide, flame retardant.
Raid Roach Spray- DO NOT use this on your plants! Follow the directions on the bottle. Should be used outside at all times. It is great for taking out large clusters, but by no means is it organic. Raid is a very strong brand of chemicals and should be used properly. They have a long list of different kinds of sprays effective for almost any type of infestation.
Fossil shell flour/Diatomaceous earth- Natures Wisdom Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is totally organic and safe. It contains less than 1% percent of Crystal & Silicon. Some of the uses for Diatomaceous Earth include; household pets, gardens, flower beds, field crops, grain storage, and livestock feeding. Diatomaceous Earth is Mother Nature’s product with no harm to the environment, pets or to people. Diatomaceous Earth is not an earth, it is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants called DIATOMS. Diatomaceous Earth kills by physical action, not chemical, by puncturing the insects exoskeleton and absorbing its body fluids, thus posing no harm to warm-blooded life. Moreover, on any surface, these natural pesticide products have a remarkable repellency factor.
Soapy Water- There are a few theories as to why soapy water kills most bugs, though as to why they kill box elder bugs is slightly different. Some people believe is suffercates them, while others thinks it dehydrates them by breaking down their protective coating. Either way, it works! However, you must DIRECTLY spray them in order to kill them! Spraying areas to prevent them won’t kill them, nor deter them from forming again. Dilute about 2-3 teaspoons per gallon water, shake well, put in a spray bottle, and your good to go!
Vacuum Cleaner- Even though box elder bugs come in mass numbers, using a vacuum cleaner in the inside of the house is a good way to get some loose stragglers.  Make sure and dump the bodies in soapy water after they are in the vacuum.. Some of them (if not most) will still be alive, Soap almost instantly kills them, so pouring them directly into a pot of soapy water from your vacuum is ideal.
Chainsaw- Cut down female box elder trees!  Box elder bugs don’t feed on male box elder trees, but cut those down too! You have a chainsaw!! In quite a few places in the world it is illegal to plant female box elder trees anyway. If it’s that old lady (bless her heart) that lives next door that loves that female box elder tree, it’s time to crush her feelings and tell her you’re tired of living with roaches (if you’ve had an infestation before, you know its a “you live with them, they don’t live with you” type of thing). So tell grandma the tree has got to go, and you conveniently have a chainsaw! Yea!!

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