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Boxelder Bug (Boisea trivittata)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Boxelder Bug, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/9/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Boxelder Bug  
Picture of Boxelder-Bug

Boxelder Bugs can form massive, intimidating mobs near dwellings and on trees, but they are harmless to humans and not a significant threat to plant life.

Boxelder Bugs are black plant bugs. They have thin orange or red-orange borders on their elytra (wing coverings). A short orange line runs down the middle of the thorax. Large red eyes bulge out the sides of its head and two tiny red spots on top of the head sit near them. Nymphs (juveniles) look different from adults. They have red bodies with an orange or yellow spot in the center of it. Their undeveloped wing coverings are short and black. They commiserate with older Boxelder Bugs, commonly form large congregations on the sides of homes, or on trees, but especially near Boxelder bushes, from which they are named. They prefer the warm and sunny sides of buildings. Females will overwinter inside walls and lay eggs on leaves in the spring.

Boxelder Bugs are not harmful to humans, but they will secrete a staining dye if crushed. If they are found indoors, it is best to remove them with a paper towel, or vacuum cleaner with its hose attachment, to avoid creating a mess. They do not emit any odors. Typically, Boxelder Bug can be found in parks, gardens, meadows, fields and forests. Adults, their larvae, and their growing nymphs drink nectar and sap from flowers, trees and other plants, but rarely with enough vigor to destroy them. The feeding may slightly deform fruits and their large numbers may startle observers, but they are not dangerous.

Picture of the Boxelder Bug
Picture of the Boxelder Bug

Boxelder Bug Information

Category: True Bug
Common Name: Boxelder Bug
Scientific Name: Boisea trivittata

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hemiptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Rhopalidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Boisea
       Arrow graphic Species: trivittata

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 11 mm to 14 mm (0.429 inches to 0.546 inches)
Identifying Colors: red; black; gray; orange
Additional Descriptors: clusters, infestation

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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