I discovered a new bug in my yard this week, the Box Elder Bug (Boisea trivittata), also known as the Garage Bug. And for my yard, that is the perfect name. I found them on my garage.
The evening light was striking our small garage as I pulled into the driveway. It was painted red when I first bought the place, but that was years ago. Now it is painted “muddy waters”, one of those fancy paint company names for light brown. As I put the car in park I saw huge patches of red on the side of the garage and I exclaimed with dread to my wife, “I can’t believe that paint is peeling so badly.” She replied, “Honey, I wanted to show you that. That isn’t paint. Those are bugs!” Thousands of bugs I might add, maybe tens of thousands, coating the side of the garage soaking up the setting sun. Now this was a whole lot better than pealing paint. I leapt out of the car to take a closer look. The nymphs had bright red bodies. The older individuals had black backs and the adults were mostly black with red edges and red eyes. Simply put, they were beautiful. The adults and nymphs of varying stages jostled for position. I ran for my camera to capture some close ups to aid in later identification.
Box Elder Bugs feed on, you guessed it, Box Elder (Acer Negundo) leaves and other soft tissues. And I have one growing right next to my garage. That made sense. But why are they also called garage bugs? Surely not all garages have a Box Elder next to them. Actually, this refers to their habit of massing in the fall before finding a place to winter in a crack, hole or a garage. In fact, some consider them a pest because they can winter by the thousands in outbuildings, garages and even your house. But, they are harmless. They don’t bite, they don’t eat anything and they don’t make any noises. They just sit there all winter long waiting for spring, unless of course your heating system warms them up and makes them think it is spring. People just don’t like bugs, especially moving around inside their buildings. But to me, these are simply a work of art.