Where Do Boxelder Bugs Nest?

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: April 1, 2024
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For many people, boxelder bugs are a nuisance! They enter homes in huge numbers and if you are not a bug lover, this can be a very unpleasant experience. You will soon know that they are there if you tread on one because they release a bad odor. This odor can also be present when a lot of them gather in one place. It’s unusual for them to bite but if they do, it will leave red bumps on your skin. What’s more, they can cause staining to walls and curtains with their poop. Here we take a closer look at the lifecycle of this bug, highlighting where they live, when they are most active, and where boxelder bugs nest.

What Exactly Are Box Elder Bugs?

Boxelders are sometimes called box bugs or maple bugs. Their scientific name is Boisea trivittatus and they belong to the same family as stink bugs and cicadas. They get their name from the boxelder tree which is where they are most often found.

Adults are about half an inch long; they are predominantly black with orange or red markings. These form three stripes on the prothorax (the area directly behind the head). Their wings lie flat and overlap each other to form an ‘X’. The nymphs are about a sixteenth of an inch long and are bright red when they first hatch. As they get older their color changes to red and black.

Which States Have Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs have flattened oval-shaped bodies with tapering at the end.


According to Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences, they are found from eastern Canada throughout the eastern United States and west to eastern Nevada. Their distribution mirrors that of the boxelder tree.

When Are Boxelder Bugs Most Active?

You may notice boxelder bugs in late March to early April when they have a surge of activity. At this time, they are returning to their host boxelder tree and feeding on newly developing leaves. The females lay eggs which hatch in two weeks. The nymphs develop into adults who remain on the tree. In warmer regions of the US, there are two generations a year. Many people are completely unaware of these bugs during the summer.

In the fall, they can become a problem in your home! They gather in large numbers on the south side of buildings where they bask in the sun. Then, they migrate into buildings which can include homes. The bugs are looking for small cracks and crevices where they can be insulated from the cold and spend the winter. Then, the lifecycle starts all over again. Generally, peak boxelder bug activity occurs if there is a hot dry summer followed by a warm spring.

Where Do Boxelder Bugs Make Nests?

Boxelder bugs to not construct a nest, instead they hide out in cracks and crevices. These nesting sites are most often in buildings with large southern or western exposures. They are attracted to buildings that are taller than surrounding structures and will choose the warmest parts. They often nest in cracks around windows but are also found in walls and attics.

Controlling Boxelder Bugs

These bugs are not usually a problem every year. They can be controlled during the fall by the careful use of insecticides and by sealing cracks and openings. Once they are inside your home, physical removal is often the best option. Consult a pest control specialist for the best advice.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/fusaromike

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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