How do I get rid of box elder bugs?


Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs are common pests over much of the United States. Adults are about 1/2 inch long. They are bright red or black with narrow reddish lines on the back.

Box elder bugs feed principally by sucking juices from the box elder tree, but are sometimes found on other plants (especially maple trees). They do very little damage to the trees they attack, but at certain times of the year, they can become a nuisance. Box elder bugs develop by gradual metamorphosis, from egg to nymph, then to adult.

When box elder bugs build up to large populations and invade a home they are usually pests only by their presence, although their piercing-sucking mouthparts can sometimes puncture the skin, causing slight irritation. Sometimes, they leave fecal material that may stain resting sites such as curtains. They may be seen to gather around the foundations, bases of trees, along foundational walls and fence rows during the fall months.

They are part of a group of insects that are called “fall invaders” are are occasional invaders.

Adult box elder bugs will enter structures into the fall, seeking winter shelter.

Boxelder bugs enter structures in the fall months and “overwinter” in protected areas. They seek shelter in protected places such as houses and other buildings, cracks or crevices in walls, wall voids, attics, doors, under windows and around foundations, particularly on the south and west exposures. Box elder bugs can come out even during the dead of winter when it is cold outside and the sun is shining.

They will then emerge in the spring to seek out host trees on which to feed and lay eggs.

Prevention-How to get rid of boxelder bugs

  • Prevention is key to getting rid of boxelder bugs. Spray the exterior walls of your home in the fall with a residual insecticide to stop them from over-wintering if you have not sprayed earlier. If you treat earlier (early summer months), you have the best chance to control the immature stages of boxelder bugs. Ideally spray twice, once in the spring-early summer months when they emerge and once in the fall when they seek shelter. Once they have come inside to overwinter, total control is close to impossible as locating all infested voids is difficult.
  • If your home has a prior history of boxelder bugs, find and seal as many exterior cracks as possible during the summer.
  • The easiest way to remove boxelder bugs, once they are indoors, is a vacuum cleaner.
  • You can also use an insecticide spray around the baseboards and window seals on the interior of the home to further control the bugs. Interior spray should be the last line of defense however because it won’t stop the bugs from coming into the home. The boxelder bug will eventually die after it comes into contact with the insecticide.

Recommended Residual Insecticides For Boxelder Bug Control

To help prevent box elder bugs, cluster flies, lady bugs and similar pests from entering in the fall, spray fast-acting synthetic pyrethroids such as the ones listed below on the exterior walls of the structure. Spray around eaves, attic vents, windows, doors, under-fascia lips, soffits, siding (including under lips) and any other possible points of entry, concentrating on the south and the southwest sides. It is also helpful to spray around the perimeter.
Shady areas are less likely to attract box elder bugs.

LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7 and D-Fense SC will dry without a visible residue, while Cyper WSP can be seen against darker surfaces. Both products will last 2-3 months on the surface once sprayed.

LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7
1 pt of LamdaStar UltraCap 9.7 yields 20-40 gallons (Mix 0.5 oz per gallon (makes 32 gallons for box elder control)

D-Fense SC
1 pt of D-Fense SC yields 11-22 gallons of finished product. For box elder control, mix 1.5 oz per gallon (yields 11 gallons)

Cyper WSP -1 envelope yields 4 gallons (mix 1 inner packet per gallon of water).

Mechanical means of exclusion

Exclude Boxelder bugs during the summer months. Concentrate on the south and west exterior walls. Avoid excluding them during the months when they are mostly likely inside so you do not seal them inside. If you seal them inside, they may enter interior rooms in large numbers.

  • Plug weep holes with wire mesh.
  • Foundation and attic vents should be equipped with tight fitting screens
  • Fix broken window screens and door jams
  • Plug cracks in the foundation or roof with exclusion materials
  • Caulk cracks and caulk around utility lines

4 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs in the House

Having trouble with a boxelder bug infestation? Try these four home remedies to get rid of these common pests. Boxelder bugs are commonly seen during the fall month when they enter homes to seek shelter for the winter months.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

1. Apply Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Get food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle the powder into areas where boxelder bugs frequently gather, such as wall cracks and crevices.

Diatomaceous earth feels like sandpaper to most insects. It will scrape against their exoskeleton and cause them to dehydrate and die.

2. Spray with Soapy Water
This works well if you are dealing with a small boxelder bug infestation. Mix a few drops of dish soap with water. Pour the soapy solution into a spray bottle then start firing away.

The soapy solution will suffocate and kill the bug by clogging the part of the body (the spiracle) where they take in oxygen.

3. Use a Shop Vac
This is a quick and effective method for people dealing with large infestations at home. Add a few inches of soapy water to the bottom of the shop vac then start sucking the bugs in. You won’t need to use insecticide since the bugs will drown in the soapy water.

4. Seal up the House
By now, you should have an idea of where the boxelder bugs are entering from. They could be entering from windows, doors, or holes in the drywall. Install weather-stripping on all doors and windows. Caulk all holes, cracks, and crevices on the exterior walls.

Other Pest Control Guides

  • Borax Ant Killer
  • How To Get Rid Of Crickets
  • How To Get Rid Of Grubs

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Permanently

Get started killing those pesky boxelder bugs by shopping our top recommended products:

Just one look at these bugs can scare the pants off of the bravest person. The Boxelder Bugs have been named after the boxelder trees that seem to be their favorite habitat.

Previously isolated in the western states, these bugs have recently extended their populations to the eastern states as well. They can also be found in Canada which has an abundance of Boxelder trees.

If it is the first time you are seeing one, you have to appreciate the uniqueness and color of the insect. It looks like a piece of an igneous lava rock with legs and two antennae. It is easily identified by the three orange stripes on the back of its thorax region. Other marks include the orange lines that split at the base of its wings in a V formation.

In this article we will discuss some habits and measures that you can take to get rid of Boxelder bugs from your home.

Habits and diet

Although it looks like a dangerous insect, it usually just eats seeds, leaves and flowers. Boxelder bugs are especially attracted to maple and boxelder trees during the summers, but they also occasionally go for plum and apple trees.

How Dangerous is A Boxelder Bug?

The question we’re most often asked is “Do boxelder bugs bite?” The short answer is “No, not unless provoked or annoyed.” If vexed, Boxelder bugs can fly haphazardly to fend off predators and possible threats. If you try to catch one though, they can puncture the skin causing irritation and producing a mark similar to a mosquito’s bite.

Breeding life cycles

Boxelder bugs usually breed during the summer months when they lay their eggs. The eggs are reddish brown and it takes just a few days for the nymphs to hatch. They mature fast and the breeding process begins all over again. If Boxelder bugs enter the vicinity, it is important to get rid of them promptly before they have a chance to breed and spread. It can be a giant nuisance to get rid of a colony of these insects.

They enter homes during the winters looking for warmth. They will usually stick to the outer walls or stay near the windows for warmth. In summer, they can be found on tree barks and under rocks, places that get the most sunlight.

Boxelder bugs enter homes through the cracks and crevices in the walls and doors and usually just hibernate in those holes. Some might find their way to the inside of the house and that’s when the problem begins. They can defecate around the house and leave pink stains on curtains, drapes, bed sheets and clothes. If that doesn’t deter you, this will, because you do not want to have one in bed with you.

3 ways to get rid of Boxelder Bugs permanently

There is no need to get your hands and shoes dirty when it comes to getting rid of boxelder bugs but you do need to act fast if you see one. Sighting one of these usually means there are more coming, and you need to bring out the big guns.

Aerosol insecticides – Bug sprays are the most effective way to target large numbers of boxelder bugs and kill them instantly. Bug sprays have a long lasting effect and the only downside is that they can be poisonous for your pets, children and yourself. Excessive use of bug sprays can cause health and respiratory problems such as asthma. Our top aerosol recommendation to kill boxelder bugs? Pyrid Aerosol.

Residual insecticides – Although they are not as quick acting and effective as their aerosol counterparts, residual insecticides can get the job done fairly quickly. Just place them near the colony or where you have noticed more bug activity and soon your bug problem will be dealt with. The downside with residual insecticides is that you need to keep track of where you placed them. If one area seems to be busier than another, it’s probably best to focus on the busy area. You need to place abundant amounts and also prevent pets and children from swallowing them accidentally. Reclaim IT Insecticide is our top recommended residual insecticide for targeting boxelder bugs.

Vacuuming:The old-fashioned way – Plug in that vacuum and grab a broom. It’s time to get rid of these bugs once and for all. A powerful vacuum can be a quick way to catch these bugs, wrap them up in garbage bags and throw them out. Make sure they to throw the bag at least 3 miles away from your place to stop them from returning. The biggest advantage to using a vacuum is that you can get the bugs that hide in the holes in the walls. It is a big mistake to kill them in the hole because the decaying bodies will attract more insects and bacteria. We have a quality selection of vacuums that you can choose from on our online store.

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If this is a common occurrence then you have to consider prevention tactics instead. Here are some suggestions you might want to implement to make your home bug free:

  • * Seal the holes in the windows, walls and doors with silicone or cover them with a wire mesh

  • * Get rid of seed producing trees such as boxelder, maple, plum and apple that seem to attract these type of bugs

  • * Focus on the southwest exterior walls that store heat which attracts these bugs. Spray the walls before winters

Get Professional DIY Products from Solutions to Control Boxelder Bugs

Solutions Pest & Lawn is your home for professional pest control products that you can easily use yourself! We have products to tackle any pest control problem big or small, including a boxelder bug infestation.

Use Reclaim IT Insecticide and Pyrid Aerosol for a quick contact kill. These products also have a long lasting residual and will be able to spread over the bugs which enhances the overall result. Make sure to aside from spraying low cracks and crevices to spray high up your home, preferably around the roof line, and then around windows, doors, shutters, etc. Boxelder bugs love light fixtures and will find any crack or crevice so make sure that you have sprayed everywhere to get them all.

Outdoors any plant or inanimate object you see them accumulating on should be sprayed too. This will reduce the active bugs in the yard wanting to nest in and around your home. By reducing these numbers you are reducing the amount that could find their way inside.

Dusts like Alpine Dust Insecticide or D-Fense Dust are also excellent options for treating boxelder bugs


We hope this guide can help you in your quest to get rid of boxelder bugs permanently from your property. If you have any questions about an order or would like helpful DIY advice, feel free to call us at our number (800) 479-6583 and one of our experienced representatives will be happy to assist you.

Ready to put a stop to the boxelder bug invasion? Click the button below to start shopping and equip yourself with the best products for boxelder bug control and prevention.

How do you get rid of boxelder bugs?

With our easy to follow 4 Step Process, anyone can get rid of boxelder bugs.

Checkout Our Complete Overwintering Pest Guide

At first glance, a boxelder tree looks like poison ivy grown into horrifyingly large proportions. The leaves resemble each other very closely, particularly when both are young.

Poison IvyBoxelder

One way to tell them apart, however, is the boxelder has opposite leaves while poison ivy has alternate leaves – but you have to look down the stem to notice this as the two photos below show nearly identical arrangements.

Both are native to Virginia, so they each have benefits to the environment. At this time, White House Natives is not growing poison ivy so we will focus on the boxelder tree, Acer negundo.

They are of small to medium stature, growing 30-60 feet in height and 1-2 ½ feet in diameter, commonly seen in river bottoms in sandy loam soils but they can also be happy on slopes with poorer soils.

One surprise about the boxelder is it is actually part of the maple family so its seeds resemble little helicopters as they flutter to the ground like those of the red maple, silver maple, sugar maple, etc. Squirrels consume the seeds as do several bird species.

Seeds of Boxelder

There are 128 species of maple worldwide with 13 native to North America. Acer negundo is the only North American maple with compound leaves and these grow as three to seven leaflets.

The common name comes from the white wood which resembles that of boxwood and the pinnately compound leaves similar in appearance to those of elderberry. It is also commonly known as ash maple, river maple, boxelder maple, maple ash and other such derivatives of the name.

Unlike most other maples, A. negundo is dioecious as both a ‘female’ and ‘male’ tree are needed for reproduction.

It is fairly quick growing with a maximum average height of about 60-80 feet and a trunk diameter of 12-20 inches. It often has multiple trunks and appreciates full sun. The branches tend to break easily so, if planted as a quick shade tree, it should be in a location where maintenance won’t be a major factor.

Matt Deivert, president of White House Natives, notes “we will have a good supply of boxelder this fall in sizes ranging from two to three inch caliper and even some four inch and slightly larger caliper trees for instant impact.”

Acer negundo 2″ caliper White House Natives

Chris Anderson, Executive Director
White House Farm Foundation
Luray, VA


How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs

Although boxelder bugs do not constitute a danger to crops and garden plants, they are still deemed to be a nuisance pest because of their habit to penetrate into houses to overwinter staining tissues and surfaces and causing displeasure to residents. And yet still they do inflict a damage to apples, maple and some other trees, but the harm is rather cosmetic. Their favorite host is the female boxelder tree which explains why these insects have received such a name. So if there is a boxelder tree in your neighborhood, you are likely to face these black-and-orange insects at home. In this article, we will review all scientifically proven ways to get rid of boxelder bugs. We will look at commercially available products, such as boxelder bug sprays, dusts, concentrates, with active ingredients lambda cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin and pyrethrins, so that you could more easily decide on how to kill boxelder bugs. Apart from this, we have prepared a comparison chart of boxelder bug control efficiency to help you.

Identification Of Boxelder Bugs

You may observe boxelder bugs inside the building in the cold months of the year. Being bright-colored insects, they can hardly remain unnoticed: these creatures with a length of half an inch have three orange or red stripes on a black background. Their eggs are yellow, getting reddish as they mature, normally can be found in groups of approximately ten eggs on boxelder and maple trees. Check leaves and bark as well as the grass in that area for yellow-red clusters to evaluate the boxelder bugs infestation.

These insects feed, lay eggs and develop on boxelder trees, most commonly occurring on female trees as they produce seeds. Boxelder bugs are crazy about these seeds, however, they also suck leaves. They can be frequently observed on maple as these trees provide them with seeds as well. Boxelder bugs overwinter in plant debris or protected human-inhabited places and other suitable structures. In May, they lay eggs which hatch in two weeks. First, these insects live and suck on fallen seeds in low-growing plants but then, in the heat of summer, move to their main host trees. With leaves falling, the bugs emerge on tree trunks, bare soil and sidewalks. Since October they can be observed inside the residences where they wander in through crevices which can occur along doors and windows as well as other unprotected areas of the structure.

Once in the residence, there is a likelihood that boxelder bugs will turn out an annoyance to the occupants of the house staining curtains and light-colored items of the interior. In addition, they emit a repulsive smell when disturbed and can spread filth. And yet still these orange-striped guys do not harm anyone, nor can they damage a houseplant or bite humans. With warming, boxelder bugs enter human-inhabited spaces attempting to get out. Thus, there are two time periods of their activity: in autumn, when they search for a site to overwinter, and in spring, when they search a way out of the building. In winter, the bugs do not bother residents of the house, unless a sudden abnormal warming makes them mistake it for a spring.

The better working method to get done with boxelder bugs that had proved its efficiency is a preventive one, Jeff Hahn and Mark Ascerno from the University of Minnesota Extension claim. To this end, seal with a caulk and screen all entrances which could be used by the insects to get into the house. These are cracks and crevices around doors, windows, basements, vents as well as openings for cable TV wires and utility pipes. Take care to repair damaged screens if there are any, especially in vents and fans. Apart from caulk, spray foam or copper mesh can be used in case you need to cover a much larger area. In garages, seal the openings with the rubber.

Also, if your house is built of stone or brick, inspect the walls to find out if there cracks where bricks and wood meet. Buildings made of vinyl siding are much more vulnerable to boxelder bugs as there are numerous openings and you are unable to reveal all of them and seal. In this case, the better option is applying insecticides in the places where boxelder bugs were noticed last seasons. Generally, these sites include areas around any point of an entrance into the house.

However, to obtain satisfactory results do not confine your pest control strategy to exclusion. Take the following steps aimed at the reduction of the number of sites where boxelder bugs will be able to overwinter. In particularly, remove all debris, including wood and leaves from the yard. Also, get rid of grass and weeds on the southwestern part of the yard. These measures will help to lower the number of boxelder bugs clustered in the area of the building’s basement. Indoors, vacuum and clean the infested areas.

Another solution recommended by scientists of the University of California is to hose host plants with water. Under the strong stream of water these insects will simply drown, so do not neglect such a conventional but extremely effective way to get rid of boxelder bugs. Also, try water mixes and washing agents to treat the sites of the pests’ congregation. This solution will cost you nothing, it is safe for humans and their pets and are effective.

According to scientists of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, soap is more preferable in cool weather and is not as toxic to people as other insecticides. They offer the following recipe: mix half a cup of dry soap with one gallon of water and spray the liquid directly on the bugs. Remember that soap may harm foliage of the houseplants, therefore take care to cover them.

It is worth noting, however, that all is riddled with imperfections, and the solution mentioned above is no exception. Namely, water mixes and washing agents have to be applied to insects only directly as they kill on contact, and they also can harm some plants, especially when over-applied.

Using insecticide boxelder bug sprays

Treatment of the surfaces inside and outside the building with insecticides should be considered as a last resort. According to the scientists of the University of California, insecticide sprays are not an option to get rid of boxelder bugs. Using them you will not obtain results superior to those when cleaning the infected areas with a vacuum or watering.

At the same time, chemicals have some drawbacks in comparison with other solutions: insecticides need to be reapplied several times and are not environment-friendly, under certain conditions, they can harm the health of humans and animals. In addition, the product’s effect lasts for quite a short period of time as the sunlight breaks down the material. For this reason, insecticides keep on killing pests no longer than a week after the application.

Anyway, if you have a heavy boxelder bugs infestation and had observed these pests in your house before, applying insecticides to exteriors of the building will provide some temporary relief. Gregory A. Hoover and Steve Jacobs, sr. extension associates from the Pennsylvania State University, admit of this solution in case the exclusion approach is not possible. They particularly single out dust insecticides which “may kill thousands of bugs.”

Insecticides should be applied at the end of the summer and in autumn as this is the time when boxelder bugs start to gather around the building. The chemicals in question include synthetic pyrethroids, such as lambda cyhalothrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, bifenthrin, tralomethrin and permethrin — that is the list of substances intended for the use outside the buildings. In spring, use horticultural oils which are more ecologically friendly and less toxic.

Application of insecticides inside the house is not a good idea due to several factors. First, spraying chemicals inside the house is useless in terms of preventing boxelder bugs from wandering into the building through existing openings. Nor will it help to directly treat the sites of the congregation of these pests.

Another problem arising when insecticides are used indoors relate to other insects — carpet beetles which devour dead boxelder bugs. They can be attracted in attics and other places by the presence of their dead prey, and, after that, wander around the house attacking natural products kept there. One of the crucial drawbacks which you should not remember when taking a decision on a pest control strategy is that all insecticides are poisonous and should be applied strictly according to the instruction provided by the manufacturer. In particular, keep these products in a safe place and dispose of them according to the producer’s instruction, otherwise, you may cause a risk of a contamination of the environment.

How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs Naturally

If these insects have become a really intolerable pest in the place where you live, it would be a smart move to take such drastic measures as pulling out host trees without which these pests will starve and die out. F.B. Peairs from the Colorado State University believes it to be the most permanent solution to the problem. Are you unwilling to remove all of the boxelder trees? Well, then focus on the female ones on the grounds we have mentioned above.

The scientists have described this solution as the most effective in dealing with boxelder bugs, however, such a move is not a wise decision in the context of the environment protection. Moreover, removing trees has another drawback connected with the insects’ ability to fly over a long distance migrating from other trees located in the vicinity. An alternative is to clear seeds under the trees by means of a broom or vacuum, the latter will be particularly helpful if there are a lot of grass.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth, which is a natural pest control, into the wall crevices and other sites where a large number of the pests are noticed. It is a powder from fossilized diatoms and is usually available in the dust. It works by causing dehydration of the insects’ bodies and does not contain any poison.

How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs: Comparison Chart

Method Advantage Disadvantage Effectiveness (1-10)
Exclusion (sealing cracks and screening openings) scientifically proven best preventive method labor-consuming; buildings made of vinyl siding have too many gaps; will not help to get rid of the insects already inside the house 10
Removing host trees bugs will die out; recommended by scientists as a permanent solution; does not comply with the environmental philosophy; bugs can migrate from neighboring areas; labor-consuming 10
Cleaning \ vacuuming the infected areas cheap, kills on contact labor-consuming; do not prevent bugs from getting into the house; 9
Hosing host plants with a stream of water produce an immediate result; kills lots of bugs at once; environmentally friendly solution labor-consuming; may harm leaves of the plants; 9
Removing overwintering sites lower the number of bugs gathered near the building’s basement labor-consuming; will not help to get rid of the insects already inside the house 6
Spraying a soap liquid cheap, safe and effective; can be homemade; kills pests on contact have to be applied directly to insects; also can harm some plants 8
Using insecticides kill on contact; is not time-consuming; helpful in case of heavy infestations; dust insecticides are considered most effective not recommended by scientists as effective; need to be reapplied; may not be safe for humans; short-term solution; do not prevent bugs from getting into the house; carpet beetles eat dead boxelder bugs; should be considered as a last resort. 9
Horticultural oils more ecologically-friendly; less toxic; have minimal impact on beneficial insects; can be used on a year-round basis the effect lasts for a short period of time; requires repeated applications. 9
Diatomaceous earth environmentally friendly solution; does not contain poisons it is effective only as long as the product remains dry; can cause skin irritation. 7

TOP-8 Products To Control Boxelder Bugs

Below we will look at boxelder bug control products at prices ranging from $6 to over $50. They will help you to implement different pest control strategies which we have discussed before, including exclusion, indoor and outdoor treatment.

  • Vent mesh which is solid enough to resist birds attacks and the tape which will be useful in repairing damaged window and other screens.
  • Sprays based on deltamethrin and designed specifically for eliminating boxelder bugs.
  • Insecticide dust with an active ingredient pyrethrin capable to penetrate into the most narrow crevices.
  • The concentrate based on a lambda cyhalothrin may be needed to treat host trees of boxelder bugs and cannot be harmful to your plants. The ready-to-use spray with an active ingredient bifenthrin is intended primarily for indoor use and has a long-term effect lasting up to 12 months. Both of them are recommended by the University of Idaho Extension.
  • The 100% natural boxelder bug killer – diatomaceous earth.

ADFORS Vent Mesh, 8 ” x 100′, Charcoal

The mesh is a good option for boxelder bug exclusion helping to effectively keep them away from attics and vents. It is available as a roll with the size of the material amounting to 8 inch x 100 foot. The product is made of a fiberglass which is solid enough to resist attacks of birds. It is not still clear whether rats can chew through it, but from the customers’ experience, scissors cut the mesh with some effort. The material can be fixed to the surface by means of staples or a heavy duty clue.

The product is popular with users, having received 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 68% of the customers giving it the highest grade of 5 stars. The customers place it upon a fan in the attic or drain in front of the garage, as well as finding some other applications too. Regarding the material reliability, their opinions vary. Some of them claim that birds are not able to breach it, others lament that mice can chew through it. However, there is a solution in this case: triple a layer of the material and those nasty mice will feel toothless. Among the quality of the material, the price is considered by most of the users as a reasonable one.

Price: Check current price

By.RHO Screen Repair Kit

The screen is available almost at the same price as the mesh that we have reviewed before, and similar approval rating on — 4.3 out of 5 stars, with 66% of the customers giving 5 stars to the product. This is a tape of a silver-gray color designed to repair a torn screen. As we said before, scientists recommend repairing damaged screens to prevent boxelder bugs from entering the house.

As the manufacturer states, this screen repair tape made of a fiberglass is very adhesive and resist temperatures ranging from -4℉ ~ 140℉, however, it is recommended to be stuck at temperatures exceeding 50ºF. The tape is easily applied as no tool is needed, the sticky side will do the job. All you need is to cut a patch of the appropriate size and place upon the damaged area. Using the product, you will be able to repair torn window screens, tent meshes and many other items. The tape has three layers and measures at 2 to 80 inches.

According to customers, the material allows air inside, but at the same time is sticky enough. “I live in the middle of nowhere and we get winds up to 50 miles an hour, and it stuck to my screens very well. I even double it on some areas it still has air going through it!” one of them said.

Price: Check current price

Harris Asian Lady Beetle & Box Elder Killer, Gallon Spray

This insecticide with an active ingredient deltamethrin is designed to kill boxelder bugs and ladybugs. While being highly popular with the US pest control professionals, it still can be toxic in case the instructions are not followed. The Harris spray with a volume of 3.8 liters is odorless and does not stain surfaces. It is approved by EPA and can be used both inside and outside the house.

The product has received 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 70% of the consumers giving five stars to it. According to the instruction, the product’s residual effect lasts up to several weeks after the first application. From the consumers’ experience, two applications are enough to get rid of the pests.

“We used to have a ton of box elders on the west-facing facade of the building. I sprayed this product liberally on the walls and around the exterior of the entrance doors. I was shocked the next day when I found hundreds and hundreds of dead box elders all over the ground,” one of the happy customers wrote. Another user said that he had managed to annihilate the entire colony of boxelder bugs with the use of this product. The negative comments mostly relate to the fact that although the product kills the insects, it does not repel them. But this is what we have explained above with the reference to scientific findings: no insecticide will prevent boxelder bugs from entering your house; to that end, rather try an exclusion approach.

Price: Check the current price

P F Harris Mfg Co Hbxa-32 32 Oz, Ready To Use, Asian Lady Beetle & Box Elder Bug Killer

This product is a cheaper as the previous one, however, its liquid volume is four times less and amounts to 946 ml. PF Harris with an active ingredient deltamethrin is odorless, stainless and designed specifically for destroying boxelder bug colonies as well, but it is easier applied due to its trigger spray.

PF Harris is less popular on and received 3.9 out of 5 stars in the customer reviews. One of the users said that a lot of boxelder bugs had lodged themselves between a window and the screen, but the spray eliminated the problem: “If you have a Box Elder bug problem, give this product a shot,” he concluded. Some, however, pointed out certain drawbacks, saying that the product was “rather harsh on the environment.” Others were not satisfied with its pumping mechanism.

Price: Check current price

1 LB Drione Pest Insecticide Dust

As we have stated before, dust products are considered by scientists to be the most effective solution among other insecticides as the powder can penetrate into narrow cracks killing insects on contact. Drione with active ingredients pyrethrins (1.0%); piper only butoxide (10.0%) and amorphous silica gel (40.0%) annihilates a number of insects, including boxelder bugs. An active ingredient is a pyrethrin which is a botanical insecticide working by attacking the insect’s nerve system and paralyzing them what eventually results in death.

The product should be applied in cracks and wall voids inside the buildings with a hand duster included in the listing. It should not be used in the areas where food is stored, nor should it be sprinkled near ventilation. Also, being very strong and toxic, the product is not safe for pets and can kill beneficial insects such as bees in case it used outdoors.

Drione has received 4.6 out of 5 stars, with 82% of the customers giving it the maximum grade. One of the customers notes that while the product itself does the job, the puffer “is more work than its worth,” and recommends just squeezing the bottle to apply.

Price: Check current price

Spectracide 95829 Triazicide Once and Done! Insect Killer, 32-Ounce Concentrate

The concentrate is primarily intended for the outdoor use, in lawns and gardens, and targets almost 180 insects. This is one of the products recommended by the University of Idaho Extension for effective boxelder bug management. While ensuring a long-lasting protection, the product will damage neither plants nor vegetables.

Its active ingredient is a lambda cyhalothrin which is less toxic as it is insoluble in water and is not expected to contaminate water. And yet upon contact with the eyes and skin, the substance is likely to cause an irritation. One bottle makes up to 16 gallons of the diluted liquid which should be sprayed on trees and plants. This is a good solution to prevent boxelder bugs from penetrating into the house by eliminating them on their host trees.

The product has received 4.2 out of 5 stars. Some of the customers claim that the stuff kills the toughest bugs, others say that they have not seen a desirable result.

Price: Check the current price

Ortho 0196410 Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter, 24-Ounce

This is another insecticide recommended by the University of Idaho Extension but this time we are dealing with a ready-to-use spray. The effect of the product with an active ingredient bifenthrin lasts for a year when applied indoors on flat surfaces, and three months in case it used outdoors, according to the manufacturer. However, you should not apply it to plants, the product is designed rather for the treatment of such elements as porches and eaves.

It is said to kill over 130 species of insects, including boxelder bugs, and, apart from that, creates a bug barrier. Home Defense Max does not stain, nor has it any offensive odor. Keep pets and children away from the treated area until the liquid dries. The manufacturer advises creating a 4-inch barrier in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, as well as around windows and doors. Outside the house, the barrier should amount to 12 inches and be created around perimeters and foundations, garage entrances and walls, around doors and window trim, as well as around a patio perimeters.

The product has received 4.3 out of 5 stars, with 69% of the customers giving it the maximum grade. “I like how it’s odorless and is safe for animals and kids once dry. I would highly recommend this for anyone who has a bug infestation because it kills nearly every insect I’ve heard of in North America,” one of them wrote in the comment section.

Price: Check the current price

Safer Brand 51703 Diatomaceous Earth Bed Bug, Flea and Ant Crawling Insect Killer, 4 lb

The product contains 100% diatomaceous earth which is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms and is a natural pesticide. It can be used against a large variety of pests killing them on contact, with the insect dying within two days. At the same time, DE does not inflict a damage to humans and the environment. The stuff can be applied both inside and outside the house and is particularly effective for boxelder bug control as it can be sprinkled into small and narrow cracks and crevices.

Diatomaceous earth works by means of a dehydration on contact when its particles penetrate into the insect’s exoskeleton. Also, it kills an insect when ingested by absorbing its moisture. The product is strongly recommended to be stored in a dry place so that it cannot get wet. When sprinkled in the kitchen and dwelling spaces, focus on areas around furniture, windows, and doorways, as well as cracks in the floor and walls. When applied outdoors, treat areas along the entrances and windows.

The product has received 4.1 out of 5 stars. The manufacturer has specified that the product has not been tested for boxelder bugs but some of the users claim that it really works on these insects. Others are annoyed by seeing a lot of a white powder at home.

Price: Check current price

Boxelder Bug Control Products: Comparative Chart

Product Type Price
ADFORS Vent Mesh, 8 ” x 100′ fiberglass, mesh
By.RHO Screen Repair Kit fiberglass, tape
Harris Asian Lady Beetle & Box Elder Killer, Gallon deltamethrin, spray
P F Harris Mfg Co Hbxa-32 32 Oz, Ready To Use deltamethrin, spray
1 LB Drione Pest Insecticide Dust pyrethrins, dust
Spectracide 95829 Triazicide Once and Done! Insect Killer lambda cyhalothrin, concentrate
Ortho 0196410 Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter bifenthrin, spray
Safer Brand 51703 Diatomaceous earth-based powder

Use These Tips to Keep Boxelder Bugs Out of Your House This Fall

As the weather cools off in fall, boxelder bugs start bedeviling us in our homes across the country. Perhaps you’ve spotted a few of these black-and-red insects crawling across your carpet or making its way along the wall and wondered what they are. Boxelder bugs are mostly harmless as far as indoor pests go, but that doesn’t make them any less of a nuisance when they sneak their way inside to spend the winter in a warm spot. Make your house a boxelder bug-free zone this winter with these tips for getting rid of them and keeping them out. Plus, we’ll share a few facts about them that can help you combat these little pests.

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1. They Feed on Boxelder Trees

This might be an obvious piece of info given their name, but boxelder bugs love their namesake boxelder trees, which are a type of maple native to North America. The insects primarily eat the clusters of seeds produced by female boxelder trees, but they can feed on the leaves, too. Boxelder bugs may also munch on similar tree species, like others in the maple family and ashes. On some occasions, they’ve been known to feast on fruit and nut trees as well, particularly in western states like California, Nevada, and Texas. Luckily, their appetites are limited to plants—if any of them spend the winter in your house, they won’t cause any structural damage.

2. The Critters Love the Sun and Warmth

Bad news for anyone with south- or east-facing windows: boxelder bugs love to hang out in these warm, sunny spaces. If you have windows that let in a lot of light during the fall or winter, don’t be surprised if you come across boxelder bugs nearby. Though they don’t hibernate, they slow down when it gets really cold and become more active as temperatures rise. Sometimes turning up the heat in your house during the winter can even trick them into thinking its spring, so they’ll come out of hiding.

3. They Can Show Up in Swarms

Like their fellow fall pest, the brown marmorated stink bug, boxelder bugs can show up in large swarms a few times a year. They release a chemical that’s undetectable to humans but attracts their black-and-red friends. As the group grows, they will huddle close together while seeking warmth—it’s not uncommon for hundreds to shelter together on a sunny exterior wall of a house or building. Then in the spring, you might see them congregating again as they leave behind their winter shelters and return to the trees. While it might be a creepy sight to behold, the swarms will naturally disappear after a week or two in either season.

4. Squashing Boxelder Bugs Can Leave Stains (And They Stink, Too)

We know it’s tempting to just squash these pests when you spot them in your house, but that can cause more problems you don’t want to deal with. When squished, their orange-ish innards can leak out and leave stains on your walls, carpet, and flooring (disgusting, we know). Boxelder bugs can also release a foul smell when they’re squashed or otherwise disturbed, which is even more reason to avoid crushing them. That odor helps them avoid predators outdoors, but it’s unpleasant to have lingering in your living room.

5. These Insects Have Developed a Resistance to Pesticides

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, using pesticides against these insects should be considered a last resort, because, over time, boxelder bugs have developed a resistance to many common formulas. That means you won’t have much success using insecticides against them. If you’re only seeing a small number of boxelder bugs around your home and garden, stick to the chemical-free ways to deal with them that we suggest below.

The best way to defend your home against boxelder bugs is to prevent them from coming inside in the first place. If you haven’t already, make sure to weather-strip your doors and windows, and seal up any other obvious cracks or holes you find on the outside of your home, like torn window screens and openings around vents. Boxelder bugs aren’t very big, so you won’t be able to completely seal your house against them, but blocking off a few obvious entry points can help reduce the number that come inside.

If boxelder bugs are usually a problem for you in the colder months, you might also want to check out the trees near your house. The seed-bearing female boxelder trees are a big draw for these insects, so if you’ve got one or more in your yard, you could replace it with a tree that’s less attractive to these pests. However, according to the University of Idaho, this may only slightly reduce their numbers—the adults can travel a long way, so even a boxelder tree hundreds of yards away could host bugs that find their way to your house. Raking and disposing of the seeds that appear in spring could help cut down on the problem, though, because young boxelder bugs typically survive on fallen seeds early in the year.

Once you start spotting boxelder bugs inside your house, you’ve got a few options for getting rid of them that don’t involve squashing. Vacuuming them up or sweeping them back outside can help reduce indoor populations. A shop-vac, like the Shop-Vac 4-Gallon All Around Wet/Dry Vacuum, $59.99, Walmart, could even work outdoors if you spot a cluster on the side of your house. It can also make reaching boxelder bugs hanging out on the ceiling or near the top of your walls easier to catch. Just make to sure empty your vacuum into a sealed bag right away, in case any of the bugs survived the trip and try to crawl out.

Simple sprays made with soap and water can also be fatal to boxelder bugs. Add a tablespoon or so of dish washing liquid soap to a spray bottle full of water, and spray the mixture directly on any bugs you see. If it’s possible, you can also try knocking the insects into a bucket of soapy water, where they’ll drown.

Related: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Spider Crickets (And How to Get Rid of Them)

Ultimately, boxelder bugs are harmless, but they can be annoying when they’re all over your home. By following these tips, boxelder bugs can be more manageable this fall and winter. Rather than squashing them (avoid those yucky stains and that nose-wrinkling smell), seal your house as best you can to keep them outside. For those that make it inside, a quick vacuum session or a squirt of a soap and water spray can do the trick.

How To: Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs


Homeowners with seed-bearing boxelder trees on their property may be all too familiar with the insects that lay eggs on them and feed on their seed pods. The half-inch long black bugs with red-ridged wings do little damage to gardens, but they can be most unwelcome when they appear in large swarms and give off their distinctive stench. Worse, come autumn, boxelder bugs migrate to the south side of trees and houses in search of warm spaces to overwinter—and should they breach openings on the exterior of your home, you may find them taking up residence inside. If you’re tired of confronting the pests outdoors and in, take charge now with these seven smart strategies for how to get rid of boxelder bugs.


If you spot boxelder bugs in your yard or around the perimeter of the house…

Blast them with water. Small clusters of boxelder bugs are easily broken up with a forceful stream from a garden hose. While this technique won’t kill or reduce their population, it will temporarily discourage the growth of a swarm. Keeping boxelder bugs at a manageable amount can prevent the need for more involved treatment necessitated by larger swarms.

Deploy diatomaceous earth. Banish moderate to large swarms with diatomaceous earth, an organic, talc-like powder comprised of the fossilized remains of microalgae. The food-grade variety (readily available in home and garden centers) is deadly to boxelder bugs yet non-toxic to humans and pets. Donning gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask, scatter the powder in the manufacturer-recommended amount around the base of boxelder, maple, or ash trees using a manual hand duster or plastic feed scoop. Sprinkle additional powder along the perimeter of your home, focusing on entry points like windowsills and doorjambs. The powder will penetrate the exoskeletons of boxelder bugs to dehydrate and kill them in a few hours. Repeat the treatment if rain removes the powder or new swarms emerge.

Spray residual insecticide. Cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home are a hotbed for boxelder bugs in autumn. Applying a Pyrethrin-based residual insecticide formulated for the perimeter to these crevices will kill boxelder bugs before they migrate indoors to overwinter. Donning gloves and safety glasses, spray the insecticide according to the manufacturer’s instructions to exterior cracks and crevices on siding, windows, doors, eaves, and attic vents. Steer clear of plants and your lawn (which perimeter insecticides can destroy), and keep pets and kids away from newly treated areas. After the insecticide kills off the bugs, siphon them out with a vacuum, then seal up the cracks with caulk to prevent new bugs from entering.

Replace seed-bearing boxelder trees. Since the pests feed on the seedpods of female boxelder trees, removing them and replacing them with non-seed-bearing male trees (or other species) can help you be rid of the bugs permanently. Keep in mind that the more mature the tree, the costlier it will be to remove. Also consider that the benefits of the tree—shade, privacy, and curb appeal—may outweigh the insect nuisance.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs


If boxelder bugs overcome exterior treatments and invade your home…

Vacuum them up. The easiest way to banish a few stray boxelder bugs in the home is to vacuum them up from the floors, wall crevices, or windowsills and doorways where they often lurk. Dispose of collected bugs immediately to eliminate their smelly remains, which can attract other, more destructive insects like Dermestid beetles. Avoid squashing the bugs; this will leave a stain, especially on carpet. Since boxelder bugs don’t reproduce indoors, you needn’t worry about another home invasion if you dispose of those already in the house and then seal any openings.

Trap them. Not all boxelder bugs hang out in plain sight—some prefer to hide in the basement, attic, or near ceilings. To catch these undercover creepers, place a lightweight insect trap in the out-of-the-way areas. The most effective traps use glue or light to lure and then ensnare bugs. Dispose of the traps as soon as possible to keep odors at bay.

Use a homemade weapon. While store-bought insecticides to combat indoor boxelder bug infestations are available, you can avoid their chemicals and cost with a homemade solution made from handy household ingredients. Simply dilute one to two tablespoons of liquid dish soap in water in a spray bottle, then spray directly to indoor bugs to kill them.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of boxelder bugs, it’s time to tackle other household pests. Check out this video on mistakes homeowners make that invite bugs to your home:

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.

Boxelder bugs are persistent. We have known brand new homes to have boxelder bugs entering through cracks and crevices, even though the home is almost entirely sealed.

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

    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 (on Amazon). 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, and we will admit that it can be incredibly satisfying. We have also noticed special bug vacuums on the market, like this one on Amazon. Although we have not used them first-hand, it seems like they are a good idea. You don’t need much suction to vacuum up a bug, and these devices are priced low enough so it won’t break the bank.

  • 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. Keeping boxelder trees at bay within up to 100 feet of your house will likely have a major impact on the number of bugs you see each fall. 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?

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

We see boxelder bug infestations mainly during two times of the year: The first is when the spring thaw occurs and the bugs are waking up, and looking for food and mates. This usually occurs sometime between March and early May, but on warm days you might even notice activity in February. What is happening is that the bugs actually found a warm nook or crevasse of a home back in the fall (unbeknownst to you!), when they were finding a place to winter. They probably sense that the weather is warming up enough to begin to make their way back outside.

The second time people really notice the bugs is in fall, when the bugs are particularly active and trying to find a safe place for the winter, they can be extremely active. This spike of activity is usually the largest of the year, and is concentrated from a period of late September to early November. 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. They are annoying but do not transmit diseases.

The one thing that boxelder bugs can mildly damage are plants and trees. While the level of damage pales in comparison to other insects like the elm bark beetle or the emerald ash borer, if feeding is intense the bug can cause foliage to be pale and can stunt the growth of some plants. All part of nature, though, and nothing to really take action for.

There have been several reports of pets eating boxelder bugs and then vomiting. Boxelder bugs are not believed to be poisonous, so there are likely no major health risks to your pet. It is simply a matter that a boxelder bug carries a very foul taste that can make your pet gag. If your cat or dog eats a boxelder bug, be on the lookout for a possible vomiting spell.

What is the Difference Between Stink Bugs and Boxelder Bugs?

A plain old spray bottle, with a mix of soap and water in it, is the simplest defense against 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 particularly active in the spring (peaking in April) and fall (peaking in October). 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. As you could guess by their name, Stink Bugs are able to transmit an odor (smells like a pungent coriander herb) as a natural defense mechanism, to prevent being eaten by predators. Stink Bugs are also known to bite, although they are believed to do so accidentally. They are typically not aggressive toward humans. Neither the Boxelder Bug or Stink Bug are harmful, they are just pesky nuisances.

As for geographic range, the stink bug tends to be found most heavily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, especially in a line from Pennsylvania down to Virginia, as well as in the surrounding states. Then, there is another strong population that seems to be growing in the Pacific Northwest. They can live up to 8 months, so that gives them plenty of time to grow their range.

The range for boxelder bugs, on the other hand, is really a swath of the US that following the Ohio River, Mississippi River, and Missouri River valleys and surrounding areas. They are most commonly found in a triangle from Pennsylvania to Texas to Montana. They have not made their way West of the Rockies yet, but we expect they could.

Why are Boxelder Bugs Attracted to Houses?

It is always interesting when a pest that is designed to live its life outside, in the wild, is so attracted to someone’s (your) home. But it happens, especially in the fall and spring.

The reason boxelder bugs like your house is two-fold. First, they love the warmth that your house provides on a cool fall day. The siding on your house retains some heat from the sun, and this feels great to the bugs. They will often congregate on the sunny side of your home exterior, bathing themselves in the warmth that the siding is giving off. Then, they will find their way in, because the inside of your house is even warmer. You might notice that they love sunny windows because of the heat.

But once inside, boxelder bugs realize that the nooks and crevices in your house are great places for them to winter and lay their eggs. That is why the boxelder bug activity seems to increase so much just as it is getting cold outside. The bugs you see inside in the spring probably spent the winter as eggs inside your walls.

Blog6 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Box Elder Bugs

It’s that time of year yet again. As soon as the snow melts and going outside stops feeling like a daunting prospect… your favorite red-and-black friends re-appear. When box elders reappear in spring, they come in force. Depending on where you live, your box elder problem may seem overwhelming. Luckily, with a little work, it doesn’t have to be.

Box elder bugs aren’t dangerous, destructive, or particularly disruptive. They become annoying when they congregate around your home in large numbers. If you can keep them from congregating, you won’t have to worry about box elder-based inconveniences. Here are six easy ways to keep box elders away from your home this spring.

1. Spray bugs with dish soap

Mix about a tablespoon of dish soap into a spray bottle of water. When you find large groups of the bugs clustered together, spray them with the soapy water. If you saturate them enough, soapy water will kill several of the bugs in the group. More importantly, however, it’s also repulsive to the other bugs. Spray the congregation of bugs with the soapy water until they disperse. Scoop up and dispose of any of the bugs you killed with the spray. Repeat this whenever you find a group of the bugs.

2. Clean bug surfaces with dish soap

You’ll notice box elder bugs tend to congregate around several kinds of area. They like to gather on warm, heat-reflective surfaces where they can soak up heat. They often find their way inside buildings after gathering around these surfaces. After spraying congregations away, scrub down their perches with soapy water or scented cleaning solution. Using a cleaning solution will help repel box elders and prevent them from returning. It’ll also help wash away the pheromones box elders secrete to attract each other to good gathering places.

3. Vacuum the bugs up

It seems like symptomatic treatment (and it is) but removing box elders when you see them will help keep them away. We recommend against crushing box elder bugs, however. When you crush box elders, they release a foul-smelling liquid that attracts other bugs. Instead of killing them, use a vacuum cleaner to suck them up. After you’re finished, throw out the vacuum cleaner bag right away, so the bugs don’t simply crawl out. For best results, clean up the areas where you vacuumed with soapy water immediately after removing the bugs.

4. Seal up doors and windows

As box elder bugs bunch up together, they push each other out to cover more of their perches. Eventually, the bugs will push each other into gaps and cracks around their perches. Once inside these gaps, they’ll follow the heat until they’re inside the building itself. If you can find and seal the gaps box elder bugs push through, you’ll cut off their primary access points. Start around your window and door frames. Fill in any cracks and gaps you see with caulk. Make sure you’re thorough; any crack that’s big enough to see is big enough to fill in.

5. Seal or replace cover plates

Box elders are attracted to heat. They frequently end up in electrical outlets, switch boxes, heating ducts, or return air vents. Box elder bugs have incredibly flat bodies that let them squeeze under plates that are even a little out-of-place. Look for box elders around your vents and outlets. If you see any, take off the fixture immediately. Vacuum away any bugs you find, and clean and seal the vents before replacing them. If it seems like your vent or plate isn’t sitting properly, it’s probably because it’s not. Consider replacing any vent covers and cover plates that don’t sit in their housing properly.

6. Remove or trim box elder trees

This probably seems like an extreme solution, to say the least, but you can’t argue with the results. Box elder bugs live around female (seed producing) box elder trees. If your tree produces “helicopter” seed pods, then it’s attracting box elders. Removing the tree will substantially reduce the number of box elders around your home. If you can’t do that, consider trimming the tree regularly instead. Mow or rake up seed pods as they fall as frequently as possible. Reduce cover sites between the tree and your home. The less comfortable box elders feel in your yard, the less they’ll want to stick around.

Box elder bugs may not be dangerous, but they sure are annoying… especially when there are thousands of them. It can feel like no matter what you do, you can’t keep box elder bugs away from you. If you’re patient, however, these six steps will help you significantly reduce the presence of box elders around your home this spring.

Of course, that may not feel like enough. Especially if you’re beating back box elders every day to no apparent avail. If that’s the case, give Plunkett’s Pest Control a call any time. We’ll help you drive out the box elders for good–really–so you can get back to enjoying spring.


Outfitted in black and orange, box elder bugs have the look of Halloween about them, but they’re no treat. We’ll share some tricks for getting rid of box elder bugs. But first, a little bit about these nuisance insects.

Box elder bugs are seldom a major problem—they’re more of an annoyance because they tend to head indoors looking for shelter as winter approaches. They push into cracks and other openings and often congregate around windows on the southern or western side of a house, where it’s warmer. While they don’t cause property damage, box elder bugs do sometimes stain surfaces, and they can be a hassle to deal with in large numbers.

Read about the difference between flying ants and termites.

Late summer and fall are the best times to control box elder bugs. Seal possible entry points with caulk or spray foam. Install door sweeps on exterior entry doors and a rubber seal along the bottom of garage doors. Also replace damaged window and door screens as well as those around roof and soffit vents. To get rid of box elder bugs, you can use an insecticide around the outside of the building when box elder bugs start to cluster in late summer. Incidentally, if you see box elder bugs clustering around the outside of a structure in spring, they are headed out and away from the house and there is no need to use an insecticide.

Here’s more on how to keep bugs out of your house.

Once box elder bugs are in the house, they can stain walls and other surfaces with excrement. Rather than using an insecticide to get rid of box elder bugs indoors, you are better off vacuuming up any bugs you see.

While box elder trees (Acer negundo), maple relatives (Acer spp.) and ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) are potential hosting sites, box elder bugs can fly blocks or even miles, so removing a tree is probably not going to help much. If you have a tree that is infested with box elder bugs, you can spray the tree in early summer when nymphs are exposed and eating seeds and leaves.

Learn more about how to get rid of pests from raccoons to mosquitoes.

Boxelder Bugs 101

Boxelder bugs, named for the maple and seed-bearing boxelder trees on which they feed and lay eggs during the warmer months, often become nuisances in the fall as they search for overwintering sites. They are most frequently seen congregating in warm spots before migrating indoors to overwinter in insulated cracks and crevices. During the change in season, they can become a nuisance to homeowners as they invade in large numbers.

What do boxelder bugs look like?

Boxelder bugs are black with reddish or orange markings on their back. Their body shape is a somewhat-flattened and elongated oval that is about 1/2 an inch long. They have six legs and two antennae.

Where do boxelder bugs live?

Boxelder bugs are native to the western United States, but can be found from eastern Canada throughout the eastern U.S. and west to eastern Nevada, wherever boxelder trees are found. They emerge from hibernation in spring and spend the warm months feeding on their host trees until cool temperatures move in.

What do boxelder bugs eat?

Boxelder bugs feed mainly on boxelder tree seeds and newly developing leaves, which may result in discoloration of the foliage. They will also occasionally feed on the fruits of plum and apple trees.

What are the habits of boxelder bugs?

In autumn, boxelder bugs congregate in large numbers on warm rocks, trees and buildings where the sun hits. After large masses gather, they migrate to nearby buildings or homes to overwinter. These pests tend to hide in small cracks and crevices in walls to insulate themselves from the cold winter temperatures.

What problems can boxelder bugs cause?

Boxelder bugs can become a significant nuisance when large groups of them invade homes. They are not known to bite, but their piercing-sucking mouthparts can occasionally puncture skin when they are handled, causing a slight irritation and producing a red spot similar to a mosquito bite. When crushed or handled roughly, boxelder bugs sometimes produce a strong, unpleasant odor and their fecal material can leave reddish-orange stains that result in fabric discoloration.

How do I prevent or get rid of boxelder bugs?

To prevent boxelder bugs from invading homes in the fall, repair holes in window and door screens, seal cracks and crevices with a good quality silicone or silicon-latex caulk and install door sweeps to all exterior entrances. When attempting to get rid of boxelder bugs that have already entered a home or building, no attempt should be made to kill them in wall voids because dead insect bodies can attract dermestid beetles. Rather, using a vacuum cleaner to remove them may provide temporary relief. The bag should be removed to prevent the bugs from escaping.

If a boxelder bug infestation is suspected, a licensed pest professional should be called to evaluate and assess the problem.

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