Learn the signs of a boxelder bug infestation and how to control it.

Are Boxelder Bugs Eating Maple Tree Leaves? Control the Infestation…

July 31, 2018
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Few tree pests travel as far as this bug. These little red and black insects are dedicated!

They'll fly up to two miles in search of trees to feed on in the spring and cozy homes to hibernate in during winter.  

These bugs are altogether harmless, but they sure can be a nuisance when they pop up on your property.

Below, learn more about why they come around and what to do about them. 

Here's how to control a boxelder bug tree infestation.

These bugs feed on trees in the spring and summer, seek out shelter in the cracks and crevices of homes in winter, and come back with a vengeance next spring! Break the cycle with these tips. 

What do boxelder bugs eat? Do they prefer maple trees?

Their food of choice is boxelder seed pods, which are only found on the female version of the tree.  They'll also feed on maples and ash treesor even fruit plants, like strawberry and raspberry. 

What attracts boxelder bugs?

Where there are boxelder trees, which are actually a type of maple, these bugs won’t be far behind! They can’t resist the tree’s seeds in spring. 

Lucky for us, this type of tree is pretty rare in many locations. Few people plant it because of its weak structure, obnoxious seeds and bug-attracting power. It can be common along streams and in bottomland areas. 

Are boxelder bugs harmful to trees?

They can be quite the bother but aren't known to cause any harm. Their feeding can cause some trees to develop yellow leaves, but the trees’ health isn’t at risk. 

What should I do about a boxelder infestation on trees?

Trees are a pit stop for these bugs to feed and lay eggs before hibernating in your home for the winter. So, while managing an infestation on trees isn't a necessity, it may be beneficial in some situations. Ridding your home of these bugs starts with the tree since that’s what brought them to your yard.  

One way to manage this infestation is to remove any female boxelder trees near your home. Female tree seeds are the biggest draw for the pests, so cutting off their food supply can stop them from visiting your yard. But because these insects can fly long distances, simply removing all the boxelder trees on your property may not solve the problem, if there are additional trees nearby. 

You can also seal up cracks and crevices around windows, doors, or other entry points to help reduce the numbers of insects that can get into your home during the fall. 

Or if you're keen on keeping your tree and sick of seeing these bugs, talk to your local arborist about something more direct. For instance, a pesticide, when applied in early summer, will target the pests just as a new generation emerges. They'll help you figure out the best course of action.

Can you control boxelder bugs with dish soap or traps? 

Yes! A flush of soapy water can get rid of these creepy crawlers who are invading your home or trees. Diluted dish soap or insecticidal soap will do the trick without harming nearby plants.  Always be sure to follow label directions when using any pesticides. 

 Suspect a different pest is eating your maple? Look for signs of these common tree insects

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