What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

As the weather starts to warm up in the spring, you may start to notice more and more black and orange bugs around your home. These are known as boxelder bugs. But, why do they all nearing your home? Maybe because, they are searching for the food, but wait. What do boxelder bugs eat?

Boxelder diet mainly consists of eating sap and sucking the juices of trees, leaves as well as seeds. You will often find these bugs on Seed-bearing trees like boxelder, ash, and silver maple trees. They also suck the fruit juices and veggie foliage. You won’t see these bugs finding or eating the food in the winter season as they undergo hibernation. They will remain in this state until the weather starts to warm up again in the spring.

You may think that boxelder bugs eat any other type of food. In your backyard or home, if you have seen a high number of boxelder bugs and start worrying that they can cause the damage. Stay calm and read the full article as we have covered all the information about what boxelder bugs eat.

Fine till here? Let’s move forward…

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat?

Boxelder bugs are sap-feeding creatures that primarily feed on the leaves, flowers, and fruit of boxelder trees. However, they will also feed on the sap of other plants, including maples, ash trees, and fruit trees.

While they do not eat the actual plant material, their feeding habits can still cause damage to leaves and fruits. In addition, their feces can contaminate fruits and vegetables

The box elder bug gets its name from the fact that it is particularly attracted to the boxelder tree. This tree, also known as the ash-leaved maple, is a seed-bearing tree that can provide a lot of food for swarms of box elder bugs. 

In the spring, adult box elder bugs lay eggs on the leaves of these trees. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which are small, wingless versions of the adults. The nymphs feed on the leaves of the tree for a few weeks before molting into adults

These insects are attracted to boxelder trees, but they can also be found on other types of trees, such as ash, silver maple, or fruit trees. Although, you won’t see the boxelder bugs live their entire life on these trees.

This means they are always dependent on the boxelder tree to survive. It’s their main source of food.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Feed?

Boxelder bugs are capable of piercing the skin of plants and fruit with their long, proboscis-like mouths in order to suck out the sugary sap inside. This sap is packed with full of nutrients and water. As they get energy from this food to fly around, find a mate, and start laying the eggs.

Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Insects?

The answer is no. Boxelder bugs don’t have the mouth or teeth to eat insects. They cannot even eat the very tiny insects. They can only suck or drink the sap and liquids with their long mouth. Just like a mosquito does.

Here’s the list of the insects that Boxelder bugs do not eat:

  1. Aphids
  2. Caterpillars
  3. Spiders
  4. Ants
  5. Mites
  6. Ladybugs
  7. Other Boxelder bugs

Generally, boxelder bugs are very calm and polite. But, at times they can harm any insect or animal if they feel the danger. It’s the indication that they are protecting them selfs and waring the creatures not to come towards them.

While the foul smell of a deceased boxelder bug may be unpleasant to humans, this odor serves an important purpose.

By releasing this pungent scent, the bugs are able to warn other potential predators that they are not a good meal.

This foul taste is also thought to deter animals from eating more of the bugs. While this defensive mechanism is not foolproof, it does help to protect the boxelder bugs from becoming prey.

In addition to releasing a bad odor, boxelder bugs are also able to defend themselves by injecting a noxious substance into their attacker.

This poisonous liquid is not lethal to most animals, but it can cause them significant discomfort. As a result, predators will usually avoid bothering the bugs.

Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Plants?

If you found a boxelder bug on your backyard plant, you may think that these insects are pests and usually don’t cause much damage to plants.

But that’s not true. They can cause some damage to your plants like – superficial discoloration, leaf curling, or bruising. However, they don’t eat the whole plant, they only suck the liquids inside.

It’s not a big deal. As these boxelder bugs will not going make any serious damage to your crops or plants.

Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Fruit?

If you’ve ever found small, dark bugs crawling on your apples or other fruit, you’ve probably encountered boxelder bugs.

These insects are a type of true bug, meaning they have piercing mouthparts that they use to suck juices from plants.

While this can damage the fruit, boxelder bugs usually don’t eat enough to cause serious harm. Instead, they tend to focus on the juice inside the fruit, leaving the flesh relatively untouched.

In some cases, you may even find that the bugs have injected so much juice that the fruit has burst open.

Do Boxelder bugs eat vegetables?

No. Boxelder bugs don’t eat vegetables. They love to sap sweet juicy liquids. Although, you can see these bugs on the foliage of the vegetable plants. That’s because they like plant leaves instead of whole vegetables. Do you know that boxelder bugs also like to get into warm places to sort for the food?

Boxelder bugs can be seen on the leaves of vegetable plants such as:

  1. Sweet Potatoes
  2. Peppers
  3. Zucchini
  4. Summer Squash
  5. Swiss chard
  6. Okra
  7. Green Beans
  8. Eggplants
  9. Cucumbers

Do Boxelder Bugs Eat Flowers?

The answer is a big no. Boxelder bugs never eat the flowers. They are occasional pests of gardens, but they’re not interested in eating the whole flowering plants as food.

But, they can suck the nectar from nectar-producing flowers. If other food sources are scarce. Nectar is a sugary fluid secreted by plants to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

While boxelder bugs don’t provide any pollination services, they can inadvertently benefit flowering plants by consuming nectar and spreading pollen as they move from flower to flower.

To learn more about Boxelder bugs – watch this video.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat In Winter?

Boxelder bugs start to begin to make preparations for winter, but their strategy is a bit different. Instead of migrating or hoarding food, boxelder bugs enter into a state of hibernation.

This allows them to survive the cold weather by slowing down their metabolism and conserving energy.

When spring arrives, they will emerge from their winter sleep and resume their normal activities. In the meantime, they will be safely tucked away, waiting for better weather.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Drink?

While most insects rely on both plants and water to survive, boxelder bugs are a notable exception.

These black and red bugs get all the hydration they need from the liquids they suck out of plants.

Not only does this save them the effort of finding an extra source of fresh water, but it also provides them with a source of nutrients.

The liquids which boxelder bugs get from plants are full of essential vitamins and minerals, helping them to survive and thrive. In fact, their diet is so well-balanced that they rarely need to eat anything else.

What Do Boxelder Bugs Eat In House?

While boxelder bugs are generally harmless, you may feel nuisance if they decide to make your home their winter haven.

But don’t worry as these black and red insects are attracted to homes just because they want a warm place to live. Eventually a protected environment – is perfect for hibernation.

Boxelder bugs will often congregate in large numbers on the sunny side of a building, and while they don’t bite or carry any disease.

So, be calm and wait. Of course, their presence can be unsettling. If you find yourself with an infestation, the best course of action is to wait it out.

Once the weather warms up, the boxelder bugs will naturally leave in search of food. .

What Do Boxelder Bug Hate

If you really want to get rid of the boxelder bugs from your backyard, you have certain types of plants that you can install in your garden so that you will not find these bugs.

There are – Lavender, sage, and clove.

If you grow these plants in your backyard, you can control these bugs up to some extent. However, you cannot stop them, if they are in large numbers. But, definitely boxelder bugs will feel uncomforted with these three plants that we have recommended.

To be honest, these bugs are not that bad but the problem comes when they arrive in a large quantity. This is where you will feel the heat with these tiny bugs and want to get out from them.


So, we feel that, by reading the above article, you have learned about what boxelder bugs do really eat. If you have any questions, please hit the comment box!


Do box elder bugs eat wood?

No. Boxelder bugs won’t eat wood. They generally come near to the wood for getting warm. But, they are more addicted to sucking the juices of the plants, leaves, etc.

What do boxelder bugs do to humans?

Boxelder bugs are one of the most common nuisance pests. Though they are not known to sting or transmit disease, they can be a real heck. Especially when they congregate in large numbers. While they are not known to cause significant damage to plants, they can infest homes and other buildings.

How long does a box elder bug live?

Boxelder bugs typically live up to 1 year. However, they are quite fragile when it comes to the cold and often do not survive the winter months. They generally move towards the warmer areas to protect themselves until the spring comes.

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