CAUTION: This information was developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.
Boxelder bugs are elliptical and about 0.5 inch long. The thorax has 3 red stripes; the leathery parts of the wings are outlined in red; and the eyes are red. The remainder of the insect is dark gray or black. Initially eggs are light yellow, but darken to rusty red. Each has a distinct cap. Nymphs are conspicuously bright red; older nymphs have dark gray wing pads. The head, legs and antennae are gray.
Adult boxelder bugs emerge from their overwintering shelters in March and early April and feed for about 2 weeks before mating. These insects prefer sunny areas and, therefore, are found most abundantly on trees in a southern exposure and on sides of buildings facing south. Eggs are deposited in masses of 10 or 11 eggs usually in bark crevices. Each female deposits about 230 eggs. The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks. Development of the six nymphal stages takes 50 to 70 days. The boxelder bug population increases rapidly from middle July to early September. Two generations are produced each year. The insects seek overwintering places in September and October. Only the adults survive the winter.
Boxelder bugs have unusual feeding preferences. Because these insects feed primarily on boxelder and maple seeds, the insects are found on the ground beneath female trees in the early summer before the seeds start to develop. The bugs move into the trees once seeds begin to form. These insects are cannibalistic, particularly when the victim is molting, and they have been reported to feed on other dead or dying insects.
Table 1: Pesticides for Use Against Boxelder Bugs INDOORS Pesticide (Trade Name) Formulation Amount per Unit of Water *cyfluthrin (Bayer Advanced) Ready-to-Use or Concentrate As directed by label of concentrate formulation *bifenthrin (Ortho Home Defense) Ready-to-Use *tralomethrin (Spectracide Bug Stop) Ready-to-Use
Table 2: Pesticides for Use Against Boxelder Bugs OUTDOORS (above 65 F) Pesticide (Trade Name) Formulation Amount per Unit of Water acephate (Orthene) 75 % soluble powder 1 pound per 100 gallons of water carbaryl* (Sevin) 50% wettable powder 2 pounds per 100 gallons of water cyfluthrin (Tempo 20) 20% wettable powder 9 tablespoons per 100 gallons of water *cyfluthrin (Multi-Insect Killer) 0.75% concentrate or 0.003% premix cyfluthrin (Tempo 2) 24.3 % emulsifiable concentrate 1.5 fluid ounces per 100 gallons of water *malathion 50 to 57% emulsifiable concentrate 3 tablespoons per quart (Don't spray this high rate on plants. Use 3 teaspoons per gallon of water for plants.) * Suitable for home use. Some houseplant spray mixtures should also give adequate suppression.
Recommendations of specific chemicals are based upon information on the manufacturer's label and performance in a limited number of trials. Because environmental conditions and methods of application by growers may vary widely, performance of the chemical will not always conform to the safety and pest control standards indicated by experimental data.
Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service agent.
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