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Name: Box Elder

Size: 1/2 inch

Color: Dark brown to black

Where found: Box elder tree

Potential treatment: Exterior spray

The box elder is about 1/2 of an inch long and is often mistaken for a cockroach because of its resemblance to the more commonly known pest. They typically are dark brown to black with red lines running along their thorax and wings.

Named for the boxelder trees that they favor for food and nesting, these pests will only occasionally enter homes through cracks, gaps and openings, and they generally stay within the walls once they do enter. If they have gathered in the walls of your home, you are most likely to see them in your home in the spring.

Boxelders will not breed indoors, so there is no risk of infestation in the home. They lay eggs on host trees—usually the boxelder, but sometimes maple or ash—and nymphs and adults feed on the leaves, flowers and seedpods. The nymphs grow to adulthood during the summer and will mate and lay eggs for a second generation.

Because of their tendency to congregate, the presence and feces of the boxelder bug can become a nuisance. Many cities have banned the boxelder tree to avoid these problems.