This time of year, people are finding thousands of boxelder bug nymphs on their properties. The Western boxelder bug adults (Boisea rubrolineata) are about 0.5 in. long, and brownish/ black with red-markings on the sides of their wings, and their nymphs (immature stage) are smaller and bright red in color. The quantity that you may find in your yard can be alarming. Luckily, though boxelder bugs feed on leaves, they are unlikely to cause any damage. Boxelder bugs main hosts are female boxelder trees, but they can also be found on male boxelder trees, ash, and other maples.
The adults can become a nuisance in the fall when they head for peoples homes to escape colder temperatures and overwinter. Though they do not bite humans or pets, and will not get into your food, they can aggregate in large numbers. Ways to reduce an infestation in your home include caulking openings and cracks around doors and windows in your home, removing debris and leaf-litter away from the foundation of your home, and vacuuming up any that find their way inside (squishing the bugs are not recommended as they can leave stains).
Boxelder bug adult (Boisea rubrolineata) Japanese beetle adult (Popillia japonica)
For more information about Boxelder bugs, click here.
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Header photograph by Whitney Cranshaw, bugwood.org