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The Truth About Boxelder Bug Pests In Arizona

The Truth About Boxelder Bug Pests In Arizona

Boxelder bugs belong to a group of plant-feeding insects known as “true bugs,” but after heavy bouts of rainfall, and when temperatures drop around the holidays, these bugs often invade Ariona homes in large numbers in order to seek shelter. Most people think of a boxelder bug as having a black exterior with one orange-reddish stripe on each corner of its upper back. Boxelder bugs of this variety are known as eastern boxelder bugs, and they are the most widespread and common of the two major boxelder bug pest species in the US. The eastern boxelder bug invades homes in the entire eastern half of the US and as far west as eastern Nevada.

Another true bug species, the western boxelder bug, is native to California and Oregon where they are known as indoor pests, but this species has not been documented in Arizona. Despite this, many people, even some experts, claim that western boxelder bugs are common house pests in southern Arizona. In truth, the western boxelder bug is nearly always confused with another true bug species that is a common house pest in southern Arizona, Melacoryphus lateralis. M. lateralis is nearly identical to eastern boxelder bugs and many other true bug species, and while this species can be found throughout the western US, they are most abundant in the desert areas of Arizona, Nevada, Texas and southern California. In fact, seasonal outbreaks are most common in the Sonoran Desert area of Arizona and California.

Residents of Arizona often inquire about unidentified insects that congregate in backyards where they feed on fruit trees and invade homes in large numbers during the late summer, fall and winter. In many of these cases, the residents were told that their mystery bugs were western boxelder bugs, when in reality, the pest culprits were M. lateralis. In southern Arizona, M. lateralis outbreaks and indoor infestations are associated with heavy monsoon seasons, and their attraction to artificial lights make them an occasional nuisance in homes throughout the summer. This is especially the case when their population numbers skyrocket in response to heavy rainfall during the winter and spring seasons.

Have you ever found boxelder bug pests within your home?