How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder Bugs are well-known in many parts of the country as a harmless but annoying pest.  The small black and red/orange bugs are invasive, and can multiply with impressive speed and effectiveness.  They are considered a nuisance for homeowners, which is why many people try to contain or eliminate them.  This article will give you ideas on how best to do that.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Before we go in to a bit of detail about boxelder bugs, we will get right to the point.  There are a few proven ways of eliminating the boxelder bug, each with its own pros and cons.  The good news is that you don’t have to be content with these little critters crawling around.

  • Try to Eliminate Boxelder Bugs Inside Outside With Dish Soap. We often see boxelder bugs breeding on boxelder or maple trees, or crawling around a warm surface on a sunny day such as house siding or a trash bin.  In these cases, we like to mix one part of seventh generation dish soap with about four parts tap water.  Put it in a clear, heavy-duty spray bottle, and spray away directly at the bugs.  The fact that the dish soap is relatively safe means you are not harming your environment, and it also should not stain the surfaces you are spraying – in fact, it just might
    box elder bugs many

    If you find a place where the bugs are congregating, spray it.

    clean them!  What you will find is that within seconds of spraying them, they will be stunned and die.  The best way to do this is to find a surface that has dozens of the bugs on it, and then hit it quickly.

  • Use an Insecticide. If you feel that your job warrants a professional product, then consider an insecticide like the one from Terro.  This product is designed for stink bug use by homeowners.  While stink bugs and boxelder bugs are a little different, the chemical will work very effectively on boxelder bugs.  This is a bit more harsh chemical, and unlike the home potion advised above, we would be careful when using this indoors and around people.  For both boxelder and stink bugs, you might want to focus on areas around windows, near doors, and around foundations of homes.  This chemical has active ingredients of permethrin, butoxide, and tetramethrin.  These agents are found in many chemicals, but we always err on the side of being safe and careful with them.
  • Seal Windows and Doors. Having windows and doors that seal tightly is a key way of keeping boxelder bugs out of your home.  The bugs burrow their way into small cracks and crevices, and end up inside your walls.  We have seen relatively new homes, or those with recent window upgrades, get their share of boxelder bugs….. so it is most definitely a problem that is not just in old houses.  Still, having good screens, caulk in major gaps, and taking similar preventative measures is a good way to reduce the number of bugs that get inside.  How to you seal?  Just use a tube of window caulk, with a simple caulk gun.  A great do-it-yourself job.  Just be careful on the ladders.
  • Vacuum them Up. When we see boxelder bugs inside a house, one of our favorite things to do is vacuum them up.  If you have a hose attachment on your vacuum, this technique works great.  You aren’t fixing the core issue, but you reducing the number inside. This is a great thing to do a couple times a day during the high season.
  • Get Rid of the Sources. Boxelder bugs love maple and boxelder trees (hence the name).  We would never want anyone to go out and cut a majestic old sugar maple tree – but a boxelder tree that is growing near a house could probably be removed.  These trees have a reputation of growing in poor form, creating many seedlings nearby, and toppling over in storms.  You will not only be doing your landscape a favor by getting rid of them, but you will also see the number of boxelder bugs drop significantly.

When Do Boxelder Bugs Invade?

caulk windows

Sealing gaps around windows is a good practice for many reasons, including to keep bugs out

We hear of boxelder bug issues mainly during two times of the year:  When the spring thaw occurs and the bugs are waking up, and looking for food and mates.  And in the fall, when the bugs are particularly active and trying to find a safe place for the winter.  They tend to be around all year long, though, and you will often see them active even on warm, sunny days in the winter, if they can find a warm surface.

Are Boxelder Bugs Harmful?

No.  They do not bite, and they do not spread any known disease to humans or pets.  Unlike mosquitoes, known to be disease vectors, boxelder bugs are purely a nuisance.

What is the Difference Between Stink Bugs and Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs and stink bugs are different, although they have similar behaviors.  They both like to get into a home through windows and doors, they reproduce like crazy, and they both tend to be pretty active in the spring and fall.  The boxelder bug is more colorful, though, with its longer body and reddish-orange accents.  Stink bugs tend to be gray with slightly yellow accents and can be about twice as large.  Neither are harmful, they are just pesky nuisances.

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