Box Elder Bugs Life Cycle

During warm seasons, box elder bugs make their homes on the leaves of ash, maple and box elder trees. These trees provide safety, nourishment and a breeding location for the box elder bug.

Adult box elder bugs lay their eggs inside of host trees or on their leaves. Their eggs are oval-shaped and rust-red or red-brown. This coloration allows them to blend in with the tree, thus protecting them from predators. Eggs hatch within a few days, becoming bright-red nymphs. Box elder nymphs appear similar to their adult counterparts, but are smaller than fully mature specimens. During summer, these nymphs go through a series of molts, develop into adults and become able to reproduce.

Box elder bugs feed on soft plant tissues such as leaves, flowers and fresh twigs. They also extract liquids from host trees. This process typically causes minimal damage to the host trees, although larger populations of box elder bugs may lead to severe damage.

In cold seasons, box elder bugs migrate toward buildings for warmth and hibernation. They gain entry via crevices and cracks on foundations, doors and windows. Box elder bugs tend to remain hidden through winter, but they will sometimes emerge if heat sources within an infested structure are sufficient. When that happens, they fly to windows and become a nuisance.

life cycle chart