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Boxelder Bug

By Bailey Walten 1992 Newsletter

The boxelder bug, Leptocorus trivittatus, is a sucking insect that belongs to the scentless plant bug group. About 1/2″ long, dark gray with orange markings, it resembles the common lightning bug. They feed principally on the leaves, flowers, and seeds of the female box elder tree or ash-leaved maple. They are most often noticed in the fall when the adults cluster on the sunny side of trees, rocks, and buildings. As the weather cools, these adult bugs will seek protection of a nearby building in which to hibernate for the winter. It is during this time that they can become a common household pest to those having box elder trees on or close to their property. After over-wintering inside, they will emerge in spring and fly back to the host trees. Eggs are laid on the tree and the immature bugs, or nymphs, will hatch and suck sap from the newly formed leaves. Damage to the foliage is not significant enough to warrant control measures; however, spraying at this time could reduce the adult population that become indoor pests later. Spraying the adults when they congregate in the fall can also alleviate the nuisance. If you are plagued by boxelder bugs indoors this winter, a dish detergent solution (Ivory liquid) is an effective spray if applied directly to the bugs and it will not harm your carpets, upholstery, or drapes.

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