Don’t worry if you find boxelder bugs in your house; they’re harmless

boxelder bug
Boxelder bug. Photo courtesy Joseph Berger,

Have boxelder bugs taken shelter in your home this fall? If so, don’t worry. They are native and won’t harm you, your house or plants.

Boxelder bugs don’t bite or sting, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They aren’t attracted to food the way ants are. They become inactive when the weather turns cold enough.

In addition, the boxelder bug doesn’t significantly damage the trees it feeds on, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

The boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) is also commonly known as the box elder bug or maple bug. It’s an American species of a true bug.

It is found primarily on boxelder trees (a species of maple), as well as other maples and ash trees. The bugs aren’t usually noticed during summer, but often become visible when they try to move into homes during fall as they search for overwintering sites. They remain mostly inactive until the early spring when temperatures begin to rise.

Adult boxelder bugs are about 1/2-inch long. They are black with orange or red markings, including three stripes behind the head. Their wings lay flat over their bodies, overlapping each other to form an “X”.

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