Sunday, October 14, 2007

Box Elder Bug

Today, I learned a new insect.

Here it is:

However, first, I must digress. I left Columbus last Friday for New York City. It was warm, really warm, when I left and when I returned briefly on Sunday evening it was still warm. I went to Cleveland the next morning, and it was cold, rainy, and cloudy most of the time I was there. Typical northeastern Ohio weather as I remember. So I was anxious to get back to tropical Columbus yesterday and to my surprise, it was quite cold here too. What happened? I must say it has thrown me for a loop. I was almost beginning to believe that we just would not have fall or winter here in central Ohio. But reality struck fairly hard this morning when I awoke, jumped on the laptop and went to my favorite weather site, and saw that the temperature at the airport at 9:00 a.m. this morning was a crisp thirty-seven degrees Fahrenheit.

So had I missed the last stand of dragonflies down on the Olentangy? It appears that I may have, although warmer temperatures may bring a few out for the last showing of the year. I was somewhat saddened today when I only saw a single male and single female American rubyspot. But then I remembered that the dragonflies aren't gone, per se, they are just out of our view. They will persist through the winter as nymphs crawling in an around the gravel and rocks under the surface of the Olentangy River.

So, no dragonfly pictures, but right outside my house, I photographed this really cool bug on the side of my neighbor's stucco house. Specifically, the west facing stucco wall of my neighbor's house. And if you are wondering, I wasn't trespassing. There is only about two feet of space between our driveway and the exterior wall of their house. Yes, city life is interesting, and we are certainly packed in close together.

I turned to the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, which is the most awesome field guide I have used to identify insects. I leafed through the pages that show typical true bugs, and right there on page 120 was the insect I was trying to identify. The box elder bug, Boisea trivittata. Well, that ID certainly looked right, but I wanted a little more confirmation. A quick Google search yielded plenty of photos that matched mine, and I found even more tidbits of interesting information that shored up this identification. I guess these bugs can actually be quite bad indoor pests. They go into buildings during winter. Well, I found this individual on a building. Another web page specifically mentioned that they can often be found sunning themselves during sunny fall and winter days on light colored south and west facing walls of buildings! How about that for a match? And finally, this species is named after the box elder tree, Acer negundo. It sucks the juices of this tree and also silver maple, both of which are in ready supply near my house. We even have a box elder in the back yard. All of these really interesting factors make me fairly confident with this ID. I must say, this bug is pretty neat looking. As for size, it was probably about one half of an inch.

Be on the look out for box elder bugs. I hope you see them outside, rather than inside, your home.



  1. Neat bug! I've never seen them either, it's always cool when you discover something new.

  2. Yeah, it never fails that the b.e. bugs are all over the front and side of my yellow townhouse in October! They will do everything in their power to get IN the house so they can ride out the winter. Come February, we will find some hiding under sinks and things...and they are still alive! Pretty amazing...

  3. Bry with a "Y",

    Pretty cool that they are out in Montana too. Looks like they are all over the U.S.

    BTW. Was looking through pics from the wedding. I have a bunch...and also a video. I will send them to you eventually.