The ecology and management of the boxelder bug, Boisea trivittata (Say), (Hemiptera: rhopalidae) in the urban environment

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The boxelder bug, Boisea trivittata (Say), is a pest because large numbers congregate on and in buildings, causing concern among homeowners. More knowledge of effective insecticides, seasonal abundance of the pest, and concerns of the affected homeowner will help to reduce the impact of the insect in urban areas.

Field-collected adults and nymphs exposed to latex-painted surfaces treated with 0.1% cypermethrin, 1.0% diazinon, 0.25% bendiocarb, 0.25% chlorpyrifos, and 1.0% propetamphos resulted in more than 70% mortality with all insecticides up to 3 d after treatment for adults, and 7 d after treatment for medium-and large-sized nymphs.

Fewer than 50% of homeowners surveyed thought boxelder bugs were a serious pest. Homeowners had little knowledge about the source of infestations from host trees. Residents reported spending $22.42 (median) to control boxelder bugs, but were willing to spend $45.00 (median). Residents tolerated more bugs outside (median=63) than they would inside (median=8) their house.

From April to December, 1988, boxelder bug populations were sampled outdoors in urban areas. First generation nymph and adult populations peaked during June and July. Fall generation nymph and adult populations were abundant on the ground and trees from August to September, but not on residences. Movement to the ground and surfaces of buildings occurred in October, and adults peaked in numbers in mid November.

Temperature profiles on residences and behavioral observations indicated that boxelder bugs found on host trees orient toward sunlight; adults were found in greater numbers on surfaces with higher mean temperatures than other substrates.