Box Elder Beetle Life Cycle

Unlike other bugs, the lifespan from the time of birth to death of box elder bugs is very short. However, similar to most insects, they go through three stages of development. Thus, making them hemimetabolis insects.

Boxelder bugs or boisea trivittata create their homes on leaves of box elder trees, ash trees, and maple trees throughout the warm seasons. These bugs choose these locations because of safety reasons. Also, these host trees give them a well-nourished place to breed.

The Entire Life Cycle

As mentioned, these bugs start from eggs, enter the nymphal stage, and then develop into adults. Below are details about every stage they go through:


Adult boxelder bugs lay eggs inside the trees or on the leaves during spring. Their eggs are red-brown or rust-red in colour and are oval-shaped. This unique colour lets them blend easily with the trees, which protects them from predators.


After 10 to 14 days, nymphs emerge from the eggs. Adults and nymphs may look the same, but nymphs are wingless. Throughout summer, nymphs moult several times until they develop into full-grown adults. As soon as they reach the adult phase, they are ready and are able to reproduce.


Once these bugs reach adulthood, they start seeking protection from the cold temperatures through overwintering. They are able to fly long miles just to find a suitable site.

Most of the time, they migrate inside homes to take advantage of the warmth and then enter hibernation. The common entry points of these bugs through homes are wall voids, cracks, and crevices in foundations, windows, and doors.

They remain hidden until winter and only emerge from their hiding spots when there are heat sources near them. Although there are nymphs that may come out during fall, only adults that are fully developed can survive winter.

As early spring comes, these bugs will start emerging from hibernation. This is the time when the buds of boxelder trees start opening. These insects will start flying to these trees in large numbers and spend their growing season in these trees. They stay active in these trees until the cold temperature starts again.

What Happens to These Bugs in Different Seasons

There are a lot of things happening in their lifecycle in different seasons. Get to know what happens to these bugs in every season below:

Spring to Summer

As the weather starts to get warm during spring, these bugs tend to emerge and start eating leaves, flowers, and seeds. A few weeks after their first feeding, they will start to mate.

By mid-July, bugs will start moving to female trees that are seed bearing. This is the time when they mate and lay eggs. When laying eggs, they usually do it on leaves, trunks, and branches. It is rare to find these bugs on male or non-seed bearing trees.

It is hard to tell that they are already feeding on certain trees, as they don’t really cause visible injuries. For instances where there are high populations, you will easily find nymphs feeding on trees throughout the summer season.

Late Summer to Fall

This is the time when these bugs start leaving the trees and look for safer areas to hide in preparation for winter.

Summer is when eggs start hatching and become nymphs. These young bugs feed on maple leaves until they are fully developed. There is only one generation that can survive every year.

Winter to Early Spring

These bugs are inactive throughout the winter season. As soon as the temperatures slightly warm up, they start moving around and go out of hiding.

When spring starts, they will go to maple trees and lay another batch of eggs for the next generation.

Identifying These Bugs

You can easily identify these bugs because of the red lines in their body. Their distinct bright red markings allow you to identify these bugs from other bugs.

They are under the category of true bugs and as mentioned, they are only active during spring throughout summer. Once you notice that these bugs are around your property, you can start removing them using a vacuum cleaner.

However, if the infestation is tougher to handle, you can always rely on the use of pest control products or seek expert help.