Mild winters, beautiful landscape, and great outdoors are some of the hallmarks of Arizona.
But lurking in this state are more than 200 species of bugs and pests.
And bugs with a specific feature invade Arizona homes, yards, and gardens.
These are red and black bugs in Arizona.
In this post, you’ll find out the six red and black bugs that show up in Arizona homes and gardens.
You’ll also find out the risk these bugs bring and the measures you can take to protect yourself and your home from any potential harm.
Let’s dive in.
M. Lateralis Boxelder Bugs In Arizona
In the US, there are three types of boxelder bugs that are the most widespread. These are the eastern boxelder bugs, the western boxelder bugs, and the Melacoryphus Lateralis or M. Lateralis.
In Arizona’s homes and gardens, the third type of boxelder bug, M. Lateralis, is common in homes surrounding the Sonoran Desert and southern Arizona.
So, what is this complicated-sounding M. lateralis boxelder bug?
Like all the other boxelder bugs, the M. lateralis is also a true bug that feeds on plants.
The M. lateralis bug looks very similar to the western boxelder bug. And that confuses Arizona residents that it’s a western boxelder bug common in California and Oregon.
It’s a red and black bug in Arizona that grows up to half an inch in length. And it can also fly.
You’ll notice the red or orangish marks as straight lines in X form on their back.
The M. lateralis boxelder bug becomes a nuisance in Arizona homes after heavy rainfalls or during winters.
In the winter, boxelder bugs sneak inside homes to overwinter and look for a warm place to hide till the spring arrives.
But, they can also sneak inside homes during the summers after sunset. Why?
The artificial light in your home attracts the M. lateralis boxelder bug. Attracted by the light, these bugs fly inside your home through open doors and windows.
They can also crawl inside your home through the gaps and cracks on the door frames and window sills and frames.
The M. lateralis boxelder, or any other type of boxelder bug, doesn’t breed inside your home. So, they don’t carry an infestation threat.
But the worst part is that their feces leave behind unremovable stains on walls, furniture, soft furnishings, and fabrics like drapes, curtains, and bedsheets.
On top of that, these bugs are an annoying nuisance inside the home.
How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs In Your Home In 5 Steps
Despite being a nuisance, it’s easy to get rid of the M. lateralis boxelder bugs and boxelder bugs in general.
Here are the five steps to get rid of boxelder bugs in your home –
Step#1 – Prepare A Spray Of Water And Dish Soap And Spray On The Boxelder Bugs
Take a quarter or half-gallon of water and 5-7 tablespoons of liquid dish soap in the water.
Shake the mixture well and pour the mixture into the spray bottle.
Boxelder bugs have a habit of gathering in one place inside your home. When you see a gathering of boxelder bugs, spray the mixture on them.
The spray will kill the boxelder bugs on contact. And dish soap is also an effective bug repellant.
If you see a solitary boxelder bug crawling inside your home, spray the mixture on it too.
Step#2 – Clean The Surface, Where The Boxelder Bugs Gathered, With A Disinfectant
Boxelder bugs gather in many places inside a home for many different reasons. One of the reasons is to derive heat from the surface.
After spraying the dish soap mixture on the gathering of boxelder bugs, clean the place with a disinfectant.
That’ll prevent the bugs from gathering there.
Cleaning the surface with a disinfectant will also remove the pheromones these bugs might have deposited on the surface. Pheromones are a type of secretion that bugs communicate with and attract other bugs.
Step#3 – Use A Vacuum Cleaner On The Boxelder Bugs
Step #3 is an alternative step to the dish soap spray. You can use the vacuum cleaner on the boxelder bugs to remove them.
Using a vacuum cleaner on a solitary or smaller number of boxelder bugs is more effective. If you use it on a boxelder bug gathering, then some of them may escape.
The vacuum cleaner will suck up the bugs, and they’ll go straight into the vacuum dust bag.
But dispose of the dust bag outside your home, favorably away from your property.
Some of the bugs may break through the dust bag and re-enter your home if you dispose of the vacuum cleaner dust bag inside your home’s trash bin.
Step#4 – Seal The Gaps And Cracks On Your Home’s Walls, Doors, And Windows
Check for any gaps and cracks on your home’s walls, doors, and windows facing the yard of your garden.
Boxelder bugs will crawl in through these gaps.
It’ll be best to use silicone-based sealants to seal the gaps. Silicone-based sealants are strong, durable (they can last at least for a decade), and bugs can’t chew through them.
Boxelder bugs have flat bodies and can crawl through the thinnest and tiniest of gaps. So, do not overlook and leave any cracks while doing the sealing work.
One more important thing.
During winters, boxelder bugs look for heat to keep themselves warm. That’s why places like electrical outlets, switch boxes, heating ducts, and air vents are the go-to places for boxelder bugs inside your home.
So, use the spray from step#1 in these places. And if there are any gaps and cracks you notice on these places, seal them too.
If any vents or plates are not fitting correctly in their place, repair them or replace them.
Step#5 – Remove Any Box Elder Trees In Your Yard
Boxelder bugs feed on the seeds of box elder trees. If there are any box elder trees in your yard or garden, then it’ll be best to get rid of them.
If you don’t want to cut them off, then you can also trim those trees. Ensure that you don’t let the seeds dropping off the box elder trees gather in your yard or garden.
Removing the things that boxelder bugs eat will make the outdoors of your home less attractive to the boxelder bugs. And lesser the boxelder bugs in your yard, lesser to no boxelder bugs inside your home.
Blister Beetles In Arizona
One of Arizona’s most widespread red and black bugs, especially in Phoenix, is a beetle. It’s known as blister beetles.
You’ll find blister beetles all across Arizona from the beginning of the spring to the end of summer when their activities are at their peak.
Blister beetles are big. An adult blister beetle grows up to two inches in length.
Blister beetles have a shiny red-orangish head and a black back. You’ll also find shades of red on their legs.
The bright colors are an indication that these beetles can give you a painful time if you try to handle them with your bare hands.
When they feel threatened, Blister beetles secrete a yellowish liquid that contains a chemical known as cantharidin. Cantharidin causes severe itching and painful blisters on your skin if it comes in contact with your skin.
This toxin can also make livestock and horses sick.
Blister beetles don’t bite livestock or other animals. But if the dead blister beetles are present in the hay and the livestock eats it, it can make them sick.
In the wild, you’ll find blister beetles in the brittlebush, a typical desert bush that grows in the spring months.
Dozens of blister beetles will hang around underneath the brittlebush plants without any fear of their predators.
The yellowish liquid that blister beetles secrete causes a lot of irritation on their predators, who eventually quit trying to hunt them.
Blister beetles are a significant threat to your flowering plants, and if you’ve got a vegetable garden in your garden, then you need to be careful about blister beetle invasion in the spring.
Blister beetles have strong chewing mouthparts, and they can feed on flowering weeds. Some of the flowering weeds that blister beetles eat are goldenrod, ironweed, ragweed, and pigweed.
Blister beetles also cause severe damage to vegetable plants like potato plants, tomato plants, carrot plants, cabbage, beet, and pea plants.
Blister beetles are not indoor bugs, and they rarely enter your homes.
In Arizona, the majority of blister beetles are red and black. But blister beetles of a variety of colors are present in the US.
How To Get Rid Of Blister Beetles In Your Garden
The best way to get rid of blister beetles is to pick them up one by one and put them in a container full of soapy water. The soapy water will kill the blister beetles.
But be careful.
Do not touch the blister beetle with your bare hands. Pick them up either with a pincher or wear thick rubber gloves if you want to hold them.
You don’t want that yellowish liquid toxin that blister beetles ooze to land in your skin.
Blister beetles do not scurry around, and it’s easy to get hold of them.
There’s no specific pesticide spray to get rid of blister beetles. However, you can use any plant-safe insecticide sprays on blister beetles to eliminate them.
Milkweed Assassin bugs In Arizona
The milkweed assassin bugs are red and black bugs in Arizona that are active from fall months to early spring.
These bugs belong to the assassin bug family, which lurk and hide to hunt their prey.
Milkweed assassin bugs have a bright reddish-orange abdomen with a thin black back. They also have long black legs. Some of these bugs can have red stripes on their legs too.
Their legs have short hair bristles. The milkweed assassin bugs produce a sticky resin from their front legs that act as a sticky trap for their prey. The hairy bristles on their legs provide them the grip to hold their mark.
In your yard, these bugs will hide in foliage, mulch, and you’ll notice them sitting on the flowers.
The milkweed assassin bug is different from the milkweed bug, which is also common in Arizona.
You’ll find about the milkweed bug later in the post. Their body shapes differentiate these two begs.
The milkweed bug is oval and flat, whereas the milkweed assassin bug is thin and long.
A matured milkweed assassin bug grows up to 18 mm or 0.7 inches in length. They also have a pair of prominent antennae on their head, which is not present on the milkweed bug.
Milkweed assassin bugs have an elongated projection in their mouth, known as a proboscis, a snout-like thing on their mouth.
They use the snout to inject their saliva into their prey that paralyzes them.
Can milkweed assassin bugs bite you? Yes, they can, but only when you try to handle them.
Other than that, milkweed assassin bugs are harmless. But their bite is pretty painful.
You’ll experience intense itching, pain, and swelling in the bitten area.
The milkweed assassin bug is a beneficial bug for your garden. It doesn’t damage any plants.
Milkweed assassin bugs are predators, and they hunt down the bugs like aphids and mealworms that damage plants.
But if you want to get rid of milkweed assassin bugs in your yard or garden, you can spray a mixture of dish soap and water on them. That’ll kill them.
You don’t need to use any pesticide sprays to get rid of milkweed assassin bugs.
In Arizona, you’ll not find many milkweed assassin bugs in cities near the desert. They prefer lush green and moist places to live.
So, cities like Lake Havasu, Boulder City, and Prescott don’t have many milkweed assassin bugs.
Milkweed Bugs In Arizona
Milkweed bugs have no resemblance to milkweed assassin bugs. Instead, milkweed bugs look very similar to boxelder bugs.
Like the boxelder bugs, the milkweed bugs are flat and oval. The differences lie in the colors on their back.
The red marks on the back of milkweed bugs are prominent. And the wing’s end of the milkweed bugs is black.
In contrast, the boxelder bugs only have straight red lines running diagonally on their back.
Milkweed bugs, also known as seed bugs, are also red and black.
Some milkweed bugs also have yellow or orange colors instead of red pigments.
These bugs feed on the sap of milkweed plants and the seed pods.
Their bodies are oval, albeit a bit elongated. Adult milkweed bugs grow up to 20 mm or 0.8 inches in length.
In Arizona, milkweed bugs are active all year round. Their sightings are more common in summer.
But in Arizona, where winters are a bit colder, milkweeds are active from early spring to late fall.
Milkweed bugs feed in the sap of milkweed plants. And they’re not harmful bugs to the plants in your garden.
They don’t try to sneak inside your home because indoors are not their ideal habitat.
Velvet Ants In Arizona
Today there are 36 species of velvet ants living in Arizona.
Velvet ants are red and black bugs with hairy bristles on their body. Some species of these ants have red strands in their head, thorax, and abdomen.
But most of these ants have red bristles on their abdomen. And the head and thorax are black.
The bristles on their body give them a fuzzy, velvety look. These ants look more significant and thicker than most ants.
But there’s a catch.
Red velvet ants are not ants. They’re wasps.
And the best part is that these ants seldom enter homes. But given their liking for living in lush green grasslands, these ants can be in your lawn, yard, or garden.
Red velvet ants don’t live in huge colonies. These ants are pretty solitary.
The female red velvet ants come in contact with the males only during mating. Male red velvet ants can fly, and you’ll rarely see them. The female red velvet ants can’t fly.
Red velvet ants are predators, and they hunt down terranean or soil-dwelling bees and wasps.
These ants don’t build any nests. Instead, they’ll lay eggs on the larvae of bees and wasps.
When the red velvet ants’ eggs hatch, the larvae from the eggs will feed on the larvae of bees and wasps.
Red velvet ants are harmless to humans but do not ever try to handle them.
These ants leave an excruciating sting. The pain from the bite is level 4 on the Schmidt sting pain scale.
Level 4 pain means it’s the most painful. Apart from the red velvet ants, there are 11 biting bugs in Arizona that leave painful bites and stings.
Getting rid of red velvet ants from your yard or garden isn’t that difficult because there won’t be many.
Scoop them away with a broom and dispose of them outside your property.
Sophora Bugs In Arizona
Sophora bugs are red and black plant bugs in Arizona that show up in the gardens of Arizona homes during the spring.
Also known as mountain laurel bugs, these bugs are more red than black. Significant portions of their bodies are red, with two visible spots on their back’s right and left sides.
The mouth, head, and legs of these bugs are black.
Sophora bugs are harmless, although not beneficial. They feed on the sap of the plants and cause minor damages to ornamental plants in your garden.
Sophora bugs don’t inflict enough damage in your garden that can make you spend time and money to get rid of them.
Soapy water spray on them is a good enough solution to get rid of them.
Alternatively, you can use a standard insecticide spray like Pyganic to get rid of them. Pyganic is a plant-safe spray that gets rid of most of the plant bugs and worms.
In this guide, you’ve found out six red and black bugs in Arizona that can invade your home and garden.
Out of these six bugs, it’s the boxelder bug, the most irritating nuisance in Arizona homes after rainfall or during the winter months.
The rest of them can show up on your property, but the best part is that most of these are beneficial insects for your garden.
And getting rid of them is pretty quick and easy.
Here are the six red and black bugs that are common in Arizona –
- Boxelder bugs
- Blister beetles
- Milkweed assassin bugs
- Milkweed bugs
- Red velvet ants
- Sophora plant bug
Apart from the red and black bugs, there are tiny black bugs in Arizona that are bigger nuisance than these bugs. To know more about them, read our post on 5 little black bugs in Arizona homes.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.