Monday, February 25, 2008

Box Elder Bug

Thanks to my two quick posters Katie and Tina, who knew what family my bug belonged to.. It makes sense, I found them in the leaf pile below my maple tree.

Box elder bugHemiptera: Rhopalidae, Leptocoris trivittatus

SIZE: About 1/2 inch (12.7mm)
COLOR: Black with red lines
DESCRIPTION: This bug is about 1/2 inch long and 1/3 as wide. It is black with three red lines on the thorax, a red line along each side, and a red line on each wing. The wings lie flat on the back when at rest. The young nymphs are red and gray. The population of bugs may number into the thousands.
HABITAT: Box elder bugs normally feed on the leaves, flowers, and seed pods of the boxelder tree or silver maple. Large numbers of box elder bugs are usually on the female, or pod-bearing, tree. These insects feed on male box elder trees and other trees and plants, but they usually do not build up to such large numbers. The adults search for a place to overwinter which brings them into houses where they hide in small cracks and crevices in walls, door and window casings, attics, and around the foundation. During warm days in winter and early spring they come out and scatter through the house. They are primarily a nuisance as they crawl or fly about in the rooms.
LIFE CYCLE: The adult bugs lay eggs in the spring and the nymphs emerge in a few days. The nymphs are small and show more red than adults. These nymphs develop into adults during the summer, then mate and lay eggs which hatch into the nymphs of the second generation. Activity of nearly fully grown nymphs is noticed in August and September when they gather in large numbers on the trunks of box elder trees. The migration of the adults begins at this time.
TYPE OF DAMAGE: The box elder bug becomes a pest in many houses each year in fall and spring. They do no damage by feeding, but their excrement spots on draperies are difficult to remove. The bugs cause little damage to trees.
INTERESTING FACTS: On warm days during winter and early spring, box elder bugs sometimes appear on light painted surfaces outdoors on the south and west sides of the house, resting in the sun.


Phillip said...

We studied insects last week in my Master Gardener class and I remember a slide on the box elder. I'd never heard of it either.

Katie said...

Thanks for posting a follow-up. I was relieved to find out these aren't bad bugs. We caught one in the house the other night and let it go back outside. It must have come in with the dog...