Boxelder bugs are nuisance pests. They do not sting or transmit disease, and are generally not known to bite, though there are rare reports of defensive biting. Boxelder bugs are not known to cause damage to homes or significant damage to plants. However, their feces can stain light colored surfaces. Smashing them can also release an unpleasant odor. They are often found in homes and on the sunny exterior sides of buildings. During the spring and summer, boxelder bugs feed and reproduce on female (seed-bearing) box elder trees. Occasionally, they may also feed on male box elder, maple, ash, and some fruit trees. This can sometimes result in minor deformities in fruits and leaves or yellow leaf discoloration. As winter approaches, boxelder bugs seek out shelter from the cold. They can fly up to two miles to find a suitable location in tree stumps, under debris, or within homes. There they remain mostly inactive until the early spring when temperatures begin to rise.
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Through its county agents, the Cooperative Extension Service gives individuals access to the resources at land-grant universities across the nation. These universities are centers for research in many subjects, including entomology (the study of insects) and agriculture. Each county within the United States has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with university-based Extension specialists to deliver answers to your questions about gardening, agriculture, and pest control. You can find the phone number for your local county extension office in the local government section (often marked with blue pages) of your telephone directory or by clicking on the map below.
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