Boxelder Bugs

boxelderYou don’t necessarily need to have or see box elder trees to have these bugs around. The bugs are attracted to the entire elder family, which includes all varieties of maple, an omnipresent tree. The boxelder itself, is a tree naturally endemic to mostly lowlands or flood plains. Boxelders are really considered a “trash tree,” have been banned from several areas, and many municipalities will not allow female trees to be sold or planted. Some people have reported that they have been required to remove female trees – at their own cost.
If you have a severe problem with boxelder bugs every year, and feel you just don’t want to tolerate them, you may want to consider removal of the female box elder trees. Male trees do not attract (as many) of these bugs, and when boxelder trees are planted, the males should be selected. You can distinguish between male and female trees in the spring and fall: In the spring, both have blossoms, but blossoms of male trees are corymbs (upright, small, with a branching effect similar to that of an umbrella); the blossoms of female trees are racemes (long and slender, hanging down). In the fall, only the female trees produce seeds, the type called samara or keys, similar in appearance to the paired “helicopter” seeds of maple. The clusters of seeds on female trees remain attached in winter. Maples, of course, are in the same family and boxelder bugs will cluster on those too. While they do little damage to trees, they can definitely damage the fruits they attack.