Are Boxelder Bugs Harmful or Dangerous?

Boxelder bugs are primarily nuisance pests that gather in large numbers and can be visually bothersome, but they do not bite, sting, or pose any significant physical harm to humans. While they may emit a pungent odor and their droppings can stain surfaces, their impact on trees is generally minimal, causing only cosmetic damage when feeding on sap. Here are three key points to keep in mind:

  • Boxelder bugs are primarily nuisance pests, gathering in large numbers and creating visual annoyance.
  • While boxelder bugs do not bite or sting, they may emit a pungent odor when disturbed and their droppings can stain surfaces.
  • Boxelder bugs can occasionally feed on tree sap, causing cosmetic damage, but their impact on mature trees is generally minimal.

Boxelder Bugs Overview

As autumn arrives, a familiar visitor often makes its way into our homes: the boxelder bug. These distinctive insects, known for their vibrant red and black markings, can quickly become an unwelcome presence as they congregate in large numbers on walls, windows, and other warm surfaces. 

While their sudden appearance can be unsettling, many wonder whether boxelder bugs pose any real threat. Are they harmless intruders merely seeking shelter, or do they bring with them a set of dangers? In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of boxelder bugs, separating fact from fiction, and uncovering whether these critters are truly harmful or just misunderstood nuisances.

What Are Boxelder Bugs? 

Boxelder bugs, scientifically known as Boisea trivittata, are small insects that belong to the true bug family, Hemiptera. These bugs are native to North America and are particularly prevalent in regions with boxelder trees, which serve as their primary host. 

The adult boxelder bug typically measures about half an inch in length and displays distinct markings of red or orange along its wings and abdomen, contrasting with its predominantly black body. They have a characteristic elongated shape and possess a pair of antennae and six legs. 

Boxelder bugs are considered true bugs due to their piercing-sucking mouthparts, which they use to feed on the sap of various trees, including boxelder, maple, and ash. They are most commonly encountered during the transitional periods of spring and autumn when they gather in large numbers on the sides of buildings, seeking shelter to survive the cooler months.

Are Boxelder Bugs Dangerous to Humans?

If you’re finding these bugs in your living space, you might be wondering how dangerous they are. Here are a few common boxelder bug concerns:

Problems with Boxelders?

Our local Pros are the pest experts in your area.


If you’re not completely satisfied, you’ll get a full refund on your most recent service with our 100% money back guarantee.

$50 Off Year Round Pest Control

Truly Nolen is a family-owned company with 85 years of experience providing the best pest control. If you’re not completely satisfied, you’ll get a full refund on your most recent service with our 100% money back guarantee.

Do Boxelder Bugs Bite?

Boxelder bugs, despite their presence in homes and other human-occupied spaces, are generally not known to bite humans. Their mouthparts are designed for piercing and sucking plant sap, not for feeding on animals. While they may occasionally land on a person and probe with their mouthparts, it is rare for them to actually bite or cause any harm. 

Boxelder bugs are also not aggressive and don’t actively seek out humans to bite. In fact, they are much more likely to prioritize their search for food and shelter over biting people. Even if they do bite, their bites are usually quite mild and do not cause any significant pain or discomfort.

So why do boxelder bugs bite at all? In some cases, boxelder bugs may bite if they feel threatened or are handled roughly. Bites can also occur accidentally if a person steps on or crushes a boxelder bug. However, these scenarios are relatively rare, and most people will never experience a boxelder bug bite.

Do Boxelder Bugs Carry Diseases?

One common concern among homeowners is whether boxelder bugs carry diseases that could pose a risk to human health. Fortunately, the answer is reassuring. 

Boxelder bugs are not known to transmit diseases to humans. They rarely bite and can’t sting or inject any venom. Their primary source of nourishment is plant sap, and they lack the ability to transfer pathogens or bacteria that could cause illness. While their presence may be considered a nuisance, particularly when they gather in large numbers, the good news is that boxelder bugs do not pose a significant health threat to humans in terms of disease transmission.

Are Boxelder Bugs Dangerous to Pets?

As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of potential dangers around your home. Boxelder bugs are a common pest, but how do they affect our furry friends? Are boxelder bugs dangerous to pets?

The good news is that boxelder bugs are not known to be toxic or harmful to cats or dogs. They do not carry diseases or pose a significant health risk. Ingesting a boxelder bug is not likely to cause any harm to your pet, although it may cause mild gastrointestinal upset if they eat a large number of them.

However, it is still important to be cautious. Some pets may have an allergic reaction to boxelder bugs, which can cause symptoms such as itching, redness, and swelling. If you notice any unusual reactions in your pet after contact with boxelder bugs, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

Another potential concern is accidental ingestion of pesticides or insecticides used to control boxelder bugs. While there are low-toxicity options available, it is important to read labels carefully and keep pets away from treated areas until the product has dried.

Overall, while boxelder bugs are not considered dangerous to pets, it is important to take precautions and monitor your pet’s reactions to them. If you have concerns, consult with your veterinarian to ensure the safety and well-being of your pets.

Do Boxelder Bugs Damage Homes and Yards?

While boxelder bugs are not a direct threat to human health, they can be fairly troublesome pests that can cause damage to your property.

One of the main concerns about boxelder bugs is their feeding habits. Boxelder bugs primarily feed on sap from boxelder trees, but they may also feed on sap from ash and maple trees. In some cases, boxelder bugs may damage the trees themselves, causing leaves to wither and die off.

But boxelder bugs don’t stop at trees. They may also feed on other plants and crops, which can negatively affect your landscape or garden. Boxelder bugs are also known to feed on seed pods, which can impact fruit or vegetable crops.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about boxelder bugs is that they tend to congregate in large groups. During the summer months, boxelder bugs may swarm around homes and yards, seeking out warmth and food sources. This can make it difficult to enjoy your outdoor space, especially if you have a boxelder tree on or near your property.

Boxelder bugs can also be a nuisance indoors. They may enter homes through openings around windows, window sills, or exterior walls. Once inside, they may hide in wall voids, ceiling lights, or even in houseplants in search of a food source. This can make it very difficult to get rid of them once they’ve established themselves in your home.

In addition to being a nuisance, boxelder bugs can cause property damage. As they move around and congregate, they may stain walls and furnishings with their excrement. They may also damage window screens or weather stripping in their attempts to enter homes.

Should You Call Professionals To Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs?

Dealing with a boxelder bug infestation can be a frustrating experience for homeowners. When faced with these seasonal intruders, it’s important to determine whether you should handle the situation on your own or call in a professional to help with a boxelder bug treatment. Here are a few factors to consider before deciding to tackle boxelder bug issues yourself:

1. Extensive Infestation

If you’re dealing with a large-scale boxelder bug infestation, it is advisable to call professionals. They have the experience and resources to handle extensive populations of these insects effectively.

2. Difficult Access Points 

Boxelder bugs can find their way into hidden crevices and cracks, making it challenging for homeowners to reach and treat these areas effectively. Pest control professionals are skilled at identifying and accessing these entry points, ensuring thorough treatment.

3. Expert Knowledge and Targeted Solutions 

Pest control technicians are well-versed in the behavior and habits of boxelder bugs. They can provide tailored solutions to eliminate the infestation, using industry-approved methods and products for maximum effectiveness.

4. Minimizing Health Risks

While boxelder bugs are not typically harmful to humans, some individuals may experience allergies or respiratory issues when exposed to a large number of these insects. Pest control professionals can minimize health risks by safely removing the infestation and taking preventive measures.

5. Preventive Measures and Long-Term Control

Professionals can go beyond immediate eradication and provide recommendations for long-term control. They can identify factors that contribute to boxelder bug infestations and implement preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.

6. Time and Convenience

Calling professionals saves you time and effort. They handle the entire process, from assessment to treatment, allowing you to focus on other tasks and ensuring a more convenient solution to your boxelder bug problem.

The decision to call professionals for boxelder bug control depends on the severity of the infestation and your past experiences. While DIY methods can work for smaller-scale problems, professional pest control services offer expertise, comprehensive solutions, and preventive measures for more challenging situations. Assess your needs and consult with a reputable pest control company to determine the best course of action for eliminating boxelder bugs from your home.

Understanding Boxelder Bug Risks

Boxelder bugs may be unwelcome intruders, but they generally pose minimal harm to humans. They don’t typically bite, carry diseases, or present significant dangers to our health. However, they can be a nuisance, causing damage to trees, plants, and property. 

If you’re dealing with a boxelder bug infestation, you may want to consider calling in a professional. Pest control experts have the tools and techniques to remove boxelder bugs and ensure human safety.

$50 Off Year Round Pest Control

Truly Nolen is a family-owned company with 85 years of experience providing the best pest control. If you’re not completely satisfied, you’ll get a full refund on your most recent service with our 100% money back guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are boxelder bugs and why are they on my property?

Boxelder bugs are small insects that are typically black with red or orange markings. They are attracted to boxelder trees, as well as other types of trees, and may congregate in large numbers on buildings seeking shelter during the cooler months.

Are boxelder bugs harmful or dangerous?

Boxelder bugs are not considered harmful or dangerous to humans or pets. They do not bite or sting and are not known to transmit diseases. However, their large numbers and presence can be a nuisance, especially when they enter homes or buildings. Learn more about boxelder bugs

How can I prevent boxelder bugs from entering my home?

To prevent boxelder bugs from entering your home, ensure that all potential entry points, such as cracks, gaps, and openings, are sealed properly. Remove boxelder trees or treat them with appropriate insecticides to deter the bugs from congregating in your area.

How do I get rid of boxelder bugs once they have entered my home?

If boxelder bugs have already entered your home, you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove them. It’s important to empty the vacuum bag or canister outside to prevent their reentry. If the infestation is significant or persistent, it may be necessary to seek professional pest control services.

Do boxelder bugs cause damage to my property?

Boxelder bugs do not cause structural damage to buildings or pose any significant threats to property. However, their excrement can leave stains on surfaces, and their presence in large numbers can be an annoyance. Learn More!