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Boxelder Bug (Boisea trivittata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Boxelder Bug



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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.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




Known Diet of the Boxelder-Bug



leaves, greenery


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Rhopalidae
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          Genus: Boisea
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            Species: trivittata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Boisea trivittata
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 14mm (0.43" to 0.55")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red; black; gray; orange
Descriptors: clusters, infestation
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 11mm and 14mm
Lo: 11mm
Md: 12.5mm
Hi: 14mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Boxelder Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Boxelder Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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