BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR Box elder bugs become nuisance pests as they move into buildings. Problems are most severe along south and west sides of structures, since the bugs tend to move into cracks and crevices in these sun warmed areas. Adult box elder bugs are about 1/2 inch in length, dark brown or black, with conspicuous red markings and red eyes. Immature box elder bugs are smaller and a solid bright red color. Only the adults are capable of overwintering successfully.
A Box Elder Bug develops during the warm months on seeds and other plant materials. The first generation usually feeds on seeds fallen from trees the previous year. The box elder tree seeds, produced on female box elder trees, are the food of the second generation. The severity of box elder bugs as nuisance pests is correlated with such factors as the amount of seed produced the previous year, nearness of female box elder trees, and length of the growing season.
When inside a building, box elder bugs are in a semi-dormant state. They cannot reproduce and do not feed. Bites on humans are rare, but occasionally occur.
BOX ELDER BUG CONTROL METHODS Habitat changes such as cleaning of debris around foundations and removal of female box elder trees will reduce box elder bug populations. Insecticide treatment around the perimeter of buildings will offer some control. Caulking and sealing of cracks and other opening points will reduce the number that enter homes and buildings. Box elder bugs that gain entry can be vacuumed or trapped using sticky traps or glue-boards.
Source: STRUCTURAL AND HEALTH RELATED PEST MANAGEMENT Study Guide for Pesticide Application and Safety P9-13