|Box Elder Bugs- 1st Instar- 12 font|
Boxelder bugs, Boisea trivittata are commonly seen true bugs. The first instars we see are miniature versions of the adult. Boxelder nymphs grow through molting with five nymphal stages (instars) before reaching the adult stage (imago). They are wingless, gradually taking on the adult's characteristics and color with each molt. Like pilots, when they hit the final stage, they get their wings.
|5 Instars and adult- University of Rhode Island|
|University of Minnesota|
They do not cause significant plant damage and are primarily just an annoyance. When squished they leave a tiny water soluble orange-red stain. They do not have an odor but do have a bad tasting chemical that deters predators, allowing them to hang out in large clusters unmolested.
They are said to lay their eggs outside under bark and not in houses. This is a little hard to believe considering the constant flow of 1st instars throughout our house. In season there is always one crawling across the surface of my computer notebook. With no nearby box elder, they may chose it because it is an Apple!
There are management suggestions from the University of Minnesota Extension.