The Boxelder Bug


Wow, the hot and humid days of summer are over and so are the insect pests. Not true. There can be pests on your landscape plants throughout the year. They may not be in the life stage that is actively feeding on your plants, but the pest may still be there.

Photo credit: University of Minnesota Extension.

What type of pests would I find in autumn in my landscape? There might be some pests still around from the summer months like aphids, lacebugs, scales, and mites. There also might be cooler weather pests such as boxelder bugs, adelgids, fall webworms, magnolia and tuliptree scales, and spruce spider mites.

Here at Virginia Green Lawn Care, we treat for all of these on plants, but the one that seems to be more attracted to your house than your plants is the boxelder bug. This native nuisance pest primarily feeds on boxelder trees. The adults are 3/8 inch long and black with reddish wing margins. They prefer to overwinter in sheltered places such as leaf litter, wood piles, garden sheds and your home. The color they are most attracted to is white; white siding, window frames and doors. They get inside your home outbuildings and hibernate inside by crawling through vents and small cracks.

When and where should I be monitoring for this nuisance pest? Check on trunks of boxelder trees that might be surrounding your home. A boxelder tree leaf looks similar to a poison ivy leaf with a red stem, but the leaves are typically not glossy. The tree looks similar to that of a maple except for the leaves. Also look on the south side of white buildings or south side white window frames that they may use for “sunning” in autumn.

Do they cause harm to your plants? Typically the answer is no. How do I control these native nuisance? If the population is high around your property, the first thing is to remove any female boxelder trees surrounding your home. On buildings wash the bugs off with a soap spray. Test your house paint first for staining possibilities. You may have to repeat this a few times.

Do you have tress and shrubs? Give us a call today for a free Tree and Shrub Program estimate. We treat your landscape plants for pests year round.