Bamboo Lawn & Pest Blog

Elm Seed Bugs vs. Boxelder Bugs: What’s The Difference?

This summer we have had an explosion of calls from people who want to know what the dark, rusty red or orange striped beetles are that are taking over their homes. These common pests are likely boxelder bugs, or one of Utah’s newest pests- the elm seed bug.

The reason that pests are a bigger problem this year than in years past remains a mystery. Whatever the reason for their strong prevalence this summer, learning more about these pests can help alleviate the problem. What are the similarities and differences between elm seed bugs and boxelder bugs and how can you get rid of them?

Elm Seed Bug Characteristics

Elm seed bugs were first noticed by the Utah State University Extension in the summer of 2014.
They originated from Europe and mysteriously made their way to the Rocky Mountain region. Some of their common characteristics include the following:

  • Adults are ¼ to ⅓ of an inch long.
  • They have an alternating red and black pattern outside of the wings with a red abdomen.
  • They feed primarily on elm tree seeds, leaves, and sap, without causing damage to the tree.
  • Elm seed bugs congregate on structures and make their way indoors in large numbers during hot summer months.

Boxelder Bug Characteristics

Boxelder bugs are native to the western United States and are very common in Salt Lake County, Utah County, and the rest of northern Utah. Below are some unique characteristics of boxelder bugs:

  • Adults are approximately ½ inch long.
  • They have black with reddish or orange markings on their dorsum.
  • Their body shape resembles a flattened and elongated oval.
  • Boxelder bugs get their name from the fact that they are often found on and around boxelder trees.

What Do Elm Seed and Boxelder Bugs Have In Common?

Elm seed bugs and boxelder bugs have more similarities than differences. Some of their similarities include:

  • Both beetles are related to the stink bug. They have scent glands and they put off a horrible smell when squished.
  • Both elm seed bugs and boxelder bugs are a nuisance, especially in large numbers, but they are not dangerous. Fortunately both are not venomous and they do not bite.
  • They typically do not cause damage to structures. However they can potentially stain walls, curtains, and other surfaces with their feces.
  • Both elm seed bugs and boxelder bugs congregate on structures and make their way indoors in large numbers during hot summer months.
  • They both overwinter in building cracks, crevices, and leaf litter.

How to Get Rid of Elm Seed and Boxelder Bugs

It is impossible to completely eradicate the population of these insects but there are things that you can do to greatly decrease their prevalence in and around your home, including the following preventative measures:

  • Seal cracks and crevices throughout the home.
  • Repair holes in window and door screens.
  • Install door sweeps to all exterior entrances.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to temporarily get rid of bugs.

Regular professional pest control services are essential for keeping pests at a minimum around your home. A parameter spray and tree spray will decrease pest activity levels. Professional grade products are more effective and last longer than products that can be purchased at a department store.

Contact Us

The pest control professionals at Bamboo Servicing are experienced at treating elm seed bug and boxelder bug problems in Pleasant Grove, Orem, Salt Lake City, the surrounding areas throughout Utah. Contact us at 385-429-2847 for a free estimate.




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