Archive for the ‘Box Elder Bug’ Category

Stink Bug and Box Elder Bug are the Same Bug

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The box elder bug can be a very annoying bug to homeowners. It is actually known to be a nuisance more than a pest because the box elder bug does not harm things like other pests do. The box elder bug does not damage things within a home, does not bite people, and rarely damages things outdoors. The only slight damage that comes from having box elder bugs inside a home is that their excrement can leave a stain on items like carpet, draperies, and walls. Also, if a box elder bug were to be killed by being stepped on or crushed by something it would let out a foul smell. The box elder bug is also known as the stink bug due to the foul odor it releases if crushed. Those are about the only two negatives that a box elder can bring into a home. When the box elder is outside it doesn’t do much harm either. Of course it feeds off of trees and such, but it actually does not damage them. The only time the box elder bugs could damage a tree or plant they eat is if there were an abundance of box elder bugs feeding all at once. Considering the damage that many other household pests can cause the box elder bug is not a threat, rather just a nuisance.

stink bug box elder bug

Here is a close up of a box elder bug.

Spotting the annoying critter is easy. The box elder bug has very distinct physical traits. They are about half an inch long, are an elongated oval shape, have wings, dark gray to black coloring, have three stripes of reddish orange right behind their head, red lines along their sides, a diagonal line on each wing, their abdomen is bright red, and their legs and antennae are black. The only problem is that their darker features help them blend in with tree bark, so they aren’t always easy to see. When they are not on trees they are easier to spot. Many times box elder bugs can be found on plants, grass, or flowers and the contrast of colors will make them more apparent.

stink bug box elder bug

This is a box elder tree, a main food and shelter source for the box elder bug. If you see one of these trees there are box elder bugs near by.

While on plants, grass, or flowers the box elder is most likely eating, as these are some of the foods they eat. The box elder bug also eats low vegetation, seeds, new twigs, cherry trees, peach trees, apple trees, ash trees, maple trees, and female seed bearing box elder trees. The female box elder tree is a favorite food for the box elder bug, and provides as a place to live. Also the ash and maple trees can both be food and shelter.

Outside the box elder bug enjoys the warmth from the sun. Many times if the box elder bug is not on a tree or plant, homeowners can find them along the south side of the home enjoying the sun. The box elder bugs sun themselves, just as people lie out and sun bathe. While sunning on the walls of homes box elder bugs will look for entry points like cracks or crevices. Box elder bugs will need to get inside the home when it gets too cold out, and cracks and crevices are the easiest way in. There are easy tips to help homeowners prevent box elder bugs from getting inside their home to hibernate.

Even though the box elder’s food supply and home is outdoors they do go into homes, but not for food like other pests. The box elder bug hibernates in the fall / winter. They start looking for a place to take cover in the fall and will make their way into the home or building as the weather cools down. Box elder bugs really like warm weather, so while inside homes they may follow the warmth of the house or any sunny areas to hibernate. Most often they hibernate in walls and attics. Once they find their spot, box elder bugs will become inactive, for the most part. At times in the day some box elder bugs will leave their spot in search of more warmth or sun, they will then return by the evening. This does not always occur, but it is how most homeowners end up seeing box elder bugs wandering through their home. Unlike other bugs or pests, the box elder bug will not even reproduce during hibernation. Only adult box elder bugs will survive hibernation, and even then some box elder bugs will get trapped within the home after hibernation and die.

Since the box elder bug does not reproduce in the fall and winter it will start reproduction once it gets outside again, in the spring. Box elder bugs will create one or two generations a year. The female box elder bug will lay her eggs on tree trunks, tree branches, leaves, stones, and or crack and crevices of tree bark. The eggs are a yellow tone, and as the nymphs inside develop the egg will change into a red tone. About two weeks later the eggs will hatch. The nymphs are about one sixteenth of an inch big, bright red, and wingless. Other than the coloring and the wings the nymphs look like smaller versions of adult box elder bugs. In order for the nymphs to develop into adults they suck fluids out of seeds, foliage, twigs, and or fruit. Also, during their development they will molt. Once they have become an adult they are on their own, and will keep the cycle going.

stink bug box elder bug

These are box elder eggs, some are more developed than the others as they are already red. There is also a nymph crawling over the pile of eggs.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org

Stink Bug – Box Elder Bug Prevention Tips

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Prevention for the box elder bug needs to be focused on during the fall or in the late summer. The fall is the peak time of the year when box elder bugs are trying to sneak their way into people’s homes. Occasionally people will see box elder bugs crawling around inside their homes already and panic. Trying to catch and kill them is tricky because you don’t want to crush them and let out that awful foul odor. Many people will spray them with a pesticide or a water and soap solution. This does not always work because it has to be sprayed directly on the box elder bug. The best thing to do if you find box elder bugs in you home is to call your local pest control service out to your house. If you don’t think you have a box elder bug problem these tips will help ensure that a box elder bug problem doesn’t occur in the future. Like prevention for many other pests the steps are easy. Here are some of the basic tips to homeowners to help prevent box elder bugs from getting inside your home.

  • Go over the exterior of the home and look for any cracks or crevices, as those are the most popular entry points. Seal any if found.
  • Check all screens on doors, windows, and vents to make sure there are no tears. Repair or replace any that are damaged.
  • Seal any openings around windows.
  • Make sure all doors have thresholds and weather stripping. Also, make sure garage doors have a rubber bottom.
  • Seal any openings around pipes or cables.
  • Don’t leave piles of debris near the home, dispose of these properly.
  • Rake leaves and any seeds that have fallen, especially those from box elder trees.
  • Box elder bugs are attracted to light, so use yellow lights outdoors and at a minimum of use. Also make sure not to leave any windows open near your outside lights.
  • Vacuum the inside of your home frequently. If you find dead box elder bugs vacuum them dead or alive. Do not try to pick up, as there is a chance you can squish them. If that happens they could leave a stain, and will leave a foul odor.
  • If at all possible, remove any box elder trees, maple trees, or ash tress that are on your property. This is the most effective way to not have box elder bugs near your home.