Bug Category: Occasional Invaders

Box Elder Bug


This bug is about 1/2 inch long and 1/3 as wide. It is black with three red lines on the thorax, a red line along each side, and an oblique red line on each wing. The wings lie flat on the back when at rest. The young nymphs are red and gray. The population of bugs may number into the thousands.


Boxelder bugs normally feed on the leaves, flowers, and seed pods of the boxelder tree or silver maple. Large infestations are usually on the female, or pod-bearing, tree. While they may feed on male boxelder trees and other trees and plants, they usually do not build up to such large numbers. The adults’ search for a place to overwinter brings them into houses where they hide in small cracks and crevices in walls, door and window casings, attics, and around the foundation. During warm days in winter and early spring they come out and scatter through the house. They are primarily a nuisance as they crawl or fly about in the rooms.

Life Cycle

The adult bugs lay eggs in the spring and the nymphs emerge in a few days. The nymphs are small and show more red than adults. These nymphs develop into adults during the summer, then mate and lay eggs which hatch into the nymphs of the second generation. Activity of nearly fully grown nymphs is noticed in August and September when they gather in large numbers on the trunks of boxelder trees. The migration of the adults begins at this time.


The boxelder bug becomes a pest in many houses each year in fall and spring. They do no damage by feeding, but their excrement spots on draperies are difficult to remove. The bugs cause little damage to trees.

Pest Control

Non-chemical control: Boxelder bugs do not feed on household structures, so there is no need for extensive chemical control in the house. The bugs can be cleaned up with a vacuum cleaner. Eliminate hiding places such as piles of rocks, boards, leaves, and general debris close to the house. Repair places where the bugs may enter the house, such as cracks around doors, windows, weather-boarding, and in the foundation. Chemical control: If the bugs become so numerous, chemical control may be necessary. It is usually best to treat the trees on which the bugs are feeding.

Camel Cricket


The orthopteran family Rhaphidophoridae includes the camel crickets, camelback crickets, cave crickets, spider_cricketspider crickets (sometimes shortened to “sprickets”) and sand treaders. In some regions, such as Virginia, these crickets are referred to as “moon hoppers”. Most are found in association with caves, animal burrows, cellars, crawl spaces, in garages, under stones, in wood or in similar environments that they can gain access to. They are characterized in part by their long antennae and legs. They may be found on all continents and many continental islands, though Africa has but one species and that is confined to the southern Cape region.


Camel crickets have very large hind legs with “drumstick-shaped” femora and long, slender antennae. They are brownish in color and rather humpbacked in appearance, always wingless, and up to two inches/5 cm long in body and 10 cm (4 inches) for the legs. On baby camel crickets the body may appear translucent. As the name implies, “cave crickets” are commonly found in caves. However, most species live in other cool, damp situations such as in wells, rotten logs, stumps and hollow trees, and under damp leaves, stones, boards, and logs. Occasionally, they prove to be a nuisance in the basements, crawl spaces and garages of homes in suburban areas.

Their distinctive limbs and antennae serve a double purpose. Typically living in a lightless environment, or active at night, they rely heavily on their sense of touch, which is limited by reach. While they have been known to take up residence in the basements of buildings, many cave crickets live out their entire lives deep inside actual caves. In those habitats they sometimes face long spans of time with insufficient access to nutrients. To avoid starvation, they have been known to devour their own extremities, even though they cannot regenerate limbs. Given their limited vision, cave crickets will often jump towards any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. Although they look intimidating, they are almost completely harmless.

Cave and camel crickets are of little economic importance except as a nuisance in buildings and homes, especially basements. They are usually “accidental invaders” that wander in by mistake from adjacent areas. They generally reproduce indoors, especially in situations that provide continuous dark, moist conditions, such as a basement shower or laundry area, as well as organic debris to serve as food.

The group known as “sand treaders” are restricted to sand dunes, however, and are adapted to live in this environment; they are active only at night, and spend the day burrowed into the sand, to minimize water loss. In the large sand-dunes of California and Utah they serve as food for scorpions.

Hadenoecus is a genus of common cave cricket of the southeastern United States. The Mammoth Cave system in central Kentucky is populated by the species Hadenoecus subterraneous.

An interesting characteristic of these crickets is their long antennae and powerful rear legs which allow for quick movement in the dark cave system. When threatened, H. subterraneous will jump and turn up to 180 degrees before landing again and jumping in another direction. This is suspected to be an adaptation to escape predators.

Carpet Beetle


These pests enjoy dining on carpets, woolen fabrics, dead insects, furs, hides, feathers, horns, hair, silk and bones. It can take 249-354 days to three years for varied carpet beetles to grow from an egg to an adult.


Varied carpet beetles are found in homes in attics, oriental carpets, tapestries and wood-based wall-to-wall carpeting.


Varied carpet beetles feed on dead insects, but also feed on upholstery and carpet, so they can damage those materials. They can also damage clothing fabric.


As with moths, to avoid varied carpet beetle infestations, store clothing in plastic containers. Dry clean clothing thoroughly before storing for long periods of time.

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