What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?
October 23, 2023 - Boxelder Bugs
Author - Tom Miche
Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) primarily feed on the sap of boxelder (Acer negundo) trees, which is their preferred host plant. These insects have specialized mouthparts designed for piercing plant tissues and extracting the sap. They use their needle-like proboscis to pierce the plant's vascular system and feed on the sugary sap, which is rich in nutrients. While boxelder bugs primarily feed on boxelder trees, they may also feed on the sap of other closely related trees from the maple family, such as maple (Acer) and ash (Fraxinus) trees.
During the warmer months, boxelder bugs can often be found congregating on the leaves, branches, and seeds of their host trees. They may also feed on the tender, young growth of these trees. In some cases, they can become nuisance pests when they aggregate on or inside buildings, seeking shelter for the winter, but they do not feed on structural materials or humans.
Boxelder bugs are primarily herbivores, and their diet is limited to plant sap. They do not bite humans or animals, and they are not known to transmit diseases.
Will Boxelder Bugs Eat My Garden?
Boxelder bugs are primarily herbivores, and while they prefer the sap of boxelder trees, maple trees, and ash trees, they may occasionally feed on the sap of other plants as well. However, they are not typically considered major garden pests and are unlikely to cause significant damage to your garden.
Boxelder bugs are more of a nuisance when they aggregate in large numbers on or around your home or garden. They may feed on the sap of certain plants, but this usually occurs infrequently and is not a significant threat to garden vegetation. They are not known to chew or consume garden crops, leaves, or other plant parts like many other common garden pests such as aphids, caterpillars, or beetles.
In most cases, the presence of boxelder bugs in your garden is more of a visual nuisance than a threat to your plants. If you do notice them in your garden, it's best to focus on preventive measures, such as sealing any cracks or gaps in your home that might allow them to enter in large numbers, rather than trying to control them in the garden itself.
What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat In The Winter?
During the winter, boxelder bugs do not actively feed. Instead, they enter a state of dormancy or hibernation, known as diapause. Their metabolic activity significantly decreases, and they primarily rely on the energy reserves they have built up during the warmer months. This energy storage typically comes from the sap they consumed from their host plants, such as boxelder, maple, or ash trees.
Boxelder bugs seek sheltered locations to spend the winter, often aggregating in large numbers on the south-facing sides of buildings, under the bark of trees, or in other protected crevices and voids. They enter a state of torpor, where their metabolic rate drops, and they become less active, allowing them to conserve energy.
During this period of inactivity, boxelder bugs do not eat or forage for food. They remain in a relatively dormant state until the temperatures rise in the spring, prompting them to become more active and seek out their host plants for feeding and reproduction. Therefore, their winter survival is reliant on the energy reserves they stored during the warmer months.
What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat In The House?
Boxelder bugs do not eat anything inside houses. When they enter buildings, it is not because they are searching for food. Instead, they seek shelter to escape the harsh winter conditions. They are attracted to the warmth and light that buildings provide, which can make them a nuisance when they congregate indoors.
Boxelder bugs are primarily herbivores, feeding on the sap of certain trees, as mentioned earlier. They do not feed on human food, stored grains, or household materials. Their sole purpose for entering a house is to find a warm and sheltered place to spend the winter in a state of dormancy. They are not destructive pests when it comes to food or property damage.
While they don't eat anything in the house, boxelder bugs can be a temporary annoyance when they gather in large numbers on windowsills, walls, and other indoor surfaces. They may be best removed using a vacuum cleaner or by gently collecting and releasing them outdoors. It's essential to seal any entry points they might use to prevent their entry in the first place.
Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Wood?
Boxelder bugs do not eat wood. They are herbivorous insects that primarily feed on plant sap, particularly from boxelder (Acer negundo), maple, and ash trees. They have specialized mouthparts for piercing plant tissues and extracting sap, but they are not equipped to consume or digest wood. Therefore, they do not cause any damage to wood or wooden structures.
Boxelder bugs might become a nuisance when they gather in large numbers on or around buildings, including wooden structures. They enter a state of dormancy during the winter months and seek shelter, often congregating in protected areas like wall voids, attics, and other spaces within buildings. While they may stain surfaces with their excrement and emit an unpleasant odor when crushed, they do not eat, bore into, or damage wood in any way.
Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Other Bugs?
Boxelder bugs are not predatory insects and do not actively hunt or eat other bugs. They are herbivorous insects that primarily feed on the sap of certain trees, such as boxelder, maple, and ash trees. Their diet consists of plant juices, and they use their specialized mouthparts to pierce plant tissues and extract sap.
Boxelder bugs are not known to be natural predators of other insects, and they do not pose a threat to most other bugs. Their feeding habits are limited to plant material, and they are not involved in controlling or preying on other insect populations. Therefore, they are not considered beneficial for pest control in gardens or other environments.
Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Aphids?
Boxelder bugs do not typically eat aphids. They are herbivorous insects that primarily feed on the sap of certain trees, such as boxelder, maple, and ash trees. Their feeding habits are focused on plant tissues, and they use their specialized mouthparts to extract sap from these plants.
Aphids, on the other hand, are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap. They are herbivores as well, but they are not part of the diet of boxelder bugs. While both boxelder bugs and aphids are herbivores, they have different host plants and do not actively prey on each other.
If you have an issue with aphids in your garden or on your plants, it is generally other predatory insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, that feed on aphids to control their populations. Boxelder bugs do not play a significant role in aphid control.
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