Boxelder Bugs are beetle-like insects that are primarily nuisance pests in and around homes and buildings with box elder trees (Acer negundo) growing nearby. They are also attracted to other species of maples, ash and fruit trees. Adult Boxelder Bugs are ½ inch long and somewhat flattened on the top, with reddish-orange stripes on their wings. They release a strong, foul smell when crushed.

Damage From Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder Bugs mostly damage trees and other plants by sucking the juices out of the leaves. They can also feed on fruit and flowers. They rarely do serious damage. Boxelder Bugs are most active in the fall, when you're most likely to find them in your home, seeking a warm place to spend the winter. While they don't feed on furniture or fabrics, Boxelder Bugs are a nuisance indoors due to their excrement and foul aroma when crushed, and because they can feed on houseplants.

Where Boxelder Bugs are Found Geographically

Boxelder Bugs are common throughout the United States, primarily east of Nevada.

Related or Similar Pests 

Western Boxelder Bug. Goldenrain Tree Bug.



Cultural Controls

  • Inspect and repair or replace all screens and seals in windows, doors, roof and soffit vents and exhaust fans (be sure the backflow preventers are tightly sealed).
  • Insects only need 1/8 of an inch to gain access to your home, so seal access points around the exterior (dryer vents, etc.).
  • Use a vacuum to collect bugs indoors, then dispose of collection bag.
  • For additional methods of controlling Boxelder Bugs, contact your local cooperative extension service.