Democrat Bug Aggregation (AKA Boxelder Bugs)

Red and black large group of beetles?
Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 9:30 PM
As the weather has gotten colder over the past few weeks I started to notice two or three of these guys warming themselves in the sun on my front door. As time went on, more and more showed up, and now as many as 15 or 20 will show up on the front of my house.
A few days ago I was raking leaves in my backyard and came upon this rock with a huge group of them huddled together. Further investigation found other groups of them on other nearby rocks, trees, and piles of dead leaves. What are they?
I live in northern KY, just south of Cincinnati Ohio. They didn’t seem to appear (I didn’t notice them anyway) until the first part of September this year.

Democrat Bug Aggregation
Democrat Bug Aggregation

Hi Kentucky,
These are not beetles. Beetles go through complete metamorphosis so the larvae look nothing like the adult. These are Eastern Boxelder Bugs, Boisea trivittata, and since they have incomplete metamorphosis, the nymphs resemble the adults, but without the wings. Boxelder Bugs sometimes form large aggregations, and they are often noticed in the fall as cold weather starts to set in because they are known to seek shelter indoors. They will also emerge on warm sunny days in areas with southern exposures. Though they are associated with boxelder and maple trees, they really don’t do any harm to the trees since the nymphs feed on the juices of the seeds. According to BugGuide, they are also called: “Democrat Bug, Populist Bug, Politician Bug. Apparently these political terms are primarily used in the Central Plains states as I’ve seen references to such from KAN, NEB, & IOWA. (MQ) .” Though your photo does not show quite as many individuals as those gathering at a Barack Obama rally, they are nonetheless quite numerous. Your photo is a wonderful example of the great new feature on our website since our recent site migration. By clicking on the small image, you will see a much larger version open in a new window.

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