Elm Seed Bugs vs Box Elder Beetles

They’re small with black red or orange-colored markings and they’re everywhere. The arrival of warm weather has brought flying insects with it. People’s homes are already being taken over by Box Elder Beetles and Elm Seed Bugs. These insects become a major problem when home owners find they can’t even enjoy a day outside without these insects covering the entire perimeter of their home and then making their way inside. Because they share such similar characteristics: behavior, habits, and even looks, people often confuse the two insects. So, what are the similarities and differences between these two pesky bugs and what can be done get rid of them?


Box Elder Beetle:

  • Adults are approximately ½ inch long.

  • They have black with reddish or orange markings on their dorsum.

  • Their body shape resembles a flattened and elongated oval.

  • Boxelder beetles get their name from the fact that they are often found on and around boxelder trees. But they are also known as Maple Bugs. Boxelder beetles generally come from Boxelder trees, but can also come from Maple and Ash trees as well.



Elm Seed Bugs:

  • Adults are ¼ to ⅓ of an inch long.

  • They have an alternating red and black pattern outside of the wings with a red abdomen.

  • They feed primarily on elm tree seeds, leaves, and sap, without causing damage to the tree.

  • Elm seed bugs congregate on structures and make their way indoors in large numbers during hot summer months.

The Elm Seed Bug is a new invasive species to our area. They were first noticed in The United States in the summer of 2014. They originated from Europe and made their way to the Rocky Mountain region and into Canada. They were first reported in the Okanagan in 2016 and their numbers are increasing year after year.


Commonalities between the 2 species:

Elm seed bugs and boxelder beetles have more similarities than differences. Some of their similarities include:

  • Both beetles are related to the stink bug. They have scent glands and they put off a horrible smell when squished.

  • Both elm seed bugs and boxelder beetles are a nuisance, especially in large numbers, but they are not dangerous. Fortunately both are not venomous and they do not bite.

  • They typically do not cause damage to structures. However they can potentially stain walls, curtains, and other surfaces with their feces.

  • Both elm seed bugs and boxelder beetles congregate on structures and make their way Iindoors in large numbers during hot summer months.

  • They both overwinter in building cracks, crevices, and leaf litter.

  • Both insects nest and breed in and around these trees, and some even chose to bread on the ground in grassy brushes.

  • They are most often seen on the sunny side of homes.

  • They also breed very rapidly, hatching out 3-4 times per year.


How To Control Box Elder Beetles and Elm Seed Bugs

It is impossible to completely eradicate the population of these insects but there are things that you can do to greatly decrease their prevalence in and around your home, including the following preventative measures:

  • Prevent entry into homes or buildings by sealing off any access points in windows, doors and screens.

  • Use a vacuum cleaner to temporarily get rid of bugs.

  • Cleaning debris from gutters and destroying elm tree seeds and brush from the ground nearby can also help.

  • Remove volunteer elm trees. Where practical prune elm trees to reduce food source for elm seed bugs.

  • Clean up elm seeds and debris around the home and structures.

  • Use sticky traps for trapping bugs around window sills.

  • Inspect firewood for overwintering adults before bringing into the home.



Regular professional pest control services are essential for keeping insects and pests at a minimum around your home. Treating inside and outside the home with a barrier spray along foundations, patios, doors and windows will decrease pest activity levels and help prevent bugs from entering homes. Professional grade products are more effective and last longer than products that can be purchased at a department store.


Please contact QFI Pest Control at 250-808-9068 for more information.


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