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How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs: 4 Critical Steps

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how to get rid of boxelder bugs

Are boxelder bugs swarming your space?

These pesky intruders, recognizable by their striking red and black markings, are a nuisance that can invade your home in large numbers, especially as the seasons change.

If you want to get rid of them, you have to act fast.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own.

Here at Pest Dude, we have more than 20 years of experience in the pest control industry. We’ve compiled that expertise into this comprehensive guide to help you learn how to eliminate boxelder bugs in your home once and for all.

Before You Get Started

  • Choose the right time. Winter offers a prime opportunity to tackle boxelder bugs as they slow down in the cold, making them easier to eliminate. These pests gather in large numbers on buildings seeking warmth, allowing for efficient pest control. Taking action during the colder months disrupts their life cycle, preventing future infestations.
  • Prioritize safety. Always wear protective gear such as gloves and masks when applying insecticides or homemade solutions. Ensure the area is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling any harmful substances. Opt for eco-friendly and pet-safe products whenever possible to protect your family and the environment.
  • Evaluate the scale of your problem. DIY methods may suffice if you’re dealing with a small number of boxelder bugs. However, if you have a large-scale invasion or the boxelder bugs keep coming back, it’s wise to seek assistance from a professional exterminator who can offer more comprehensive and long-lasting solutions.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Permanently

1. Inspect for and Identify the Pests

inspect for boxelder bugs

Inspect your home thoroughly for boxelder bugs, focusing on areas where they are most likely to hide or enter.

Here are a few tips:

  • Begin by examining the exterior of your home. Look for cracks and crevices in the siding, gaps around windows and doors, and any damaged screens. Boxelder bugs often enter homes through these tiny openings in search of warmth as the weather cools. Pay special attention to the sunny side of your house, as these pests are attracted to warmth.
  • Check your basements, attics, and crawl spaces. During cooler months, these areas provide ideal hiding spots for boxelder bugs.
  • Look for any signs of insects, such as the distinctive black and red bugs or their droppings, which look like dark red or orange spots on curtains, walls, and other light-colored surfaces where the contrast makes them more noticeable. In some cases, boxelder bug droppings can stain these surfaces. 
  • Taking immediate action is essential if you discover signs of an infestation during your inspection.

2. Treat the Infestation

When it comes to getting rid of boxelder bugs, you have a few options.

Here are the approaches we recommend:

Chemical Methods

  • Residual Insecticides: Some products on the market are approved to treat boxelder bugs. Most contain ingredients like bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or permethrin. We recommend checking your expectations for these products, though: controlling boxelder bugs with chemicals is challenging and often ineffective since these pests are highly tolerant to insecticides. The decision to use insecticidal control depends on the severity of the infestation and the location of the infestation (once boxelder bugs are active, they only live a few days indoors and generally will not reproduce indoors, so we never recommend using pesticides on indoor infestations). In most cases, vacuuming the bugs, sealing all entry points, and reducing their habitat and food sources is adequate to eliminate them. 

Non-Chemical Methods

  • Diatomaceous Earth: A non-chemical option, diatomaceous earth can be spread around the perimeter of your home and near entry points. This natural substance desiccates boxelder bugs that walk over it, leading to their death.
  • Horticultural Oil: Horticultural oils are specifically formulated to suffocate or interrupt the life cycle of pests, effectively controlling their population and damage to plants.
  • Insecticidal Soap: A safe and eco-friendly option, insecticidal soap kills boxelder bugs on contact. It’s most effective when bugs are spotted and treated on the home’s exterior. Make your own by mixing four tablespoons of dish soap into a gallon of water. 
  • Hot Water: Pouring hot water over boxelder bugs on your property is a simple yet effective method for dealing with them. This method is immediate and chemical-free, but care should be taken to avoid burns or damage to plants and property.
  • Borax: Sprinkling borax in areas where boxelder bugs are frequent can help to deter them. Borax is a natural mineral that, when walked through by bugs, can act as a desiccant, slowly dehydrating them.

3. Prevent Them From Coming Back

Once you’ve identified boxelder bugs and deployed your treatment(s) of choice, it’s time to focus on ensuring the pests stay out.

Here are a few methods the pros use:

  • Vacuuming: Regularly vacuuming boxelder bugs from walls, windowsills, and other surfaces can help reduce their numbers inside the home. Once you’re done cleaning, dispose of the vacuum bag contents into a plastic trash bag, tie it tightly, and toss it in an outdoor trash can to keep the pests from re-emerging in your home. 
  • Sealing or Replacing Electrical Cover Plates: Conduct a thorough inspection of all electrical outlets and switch plates on exterior walls. If any are loose or do not fit snugly, seal them with caulk or replace them entirely to eliminate potential entry points for boxelder bugs.
  • Removing or Trimming Box Elder Trees: Since boxelder bugs feed and lay eggs on boxelder trees, consider removing or regularly trimming any of them that might be on or near your property. This reduces the available habitat for boxelder bugs, thereby decreasing their population near your home. That said, it’s also worth noting that boxelder bugs can fly several hundred yards to reach their overwintering sites, so they can easily infest properties without any boxelder trees. 
  • Sealing All Gaps, Cracks, and Entry Points: Check windows and door frames for gaps or cracks and seal them with caulk. Pay special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the home, ensuring these are also properly sealed. Inspect the foundation and exterior walls of your home for cracks or crevices.
  • Repair or Replace Screens. Ensure that all screens on windows and vents are intact and free of tears or holes. Repair or replace any damaged screens to keep boxelder bugs out.
  • Install Door Sweeps. Consider installing door sweeps on exterior doors if gaps between the bottom of the door and the threshold allow bugs to enter.

4. Monitor for Decreased Activity

After you’ve done your bit to keep boxelder bugs away, it’s time to play detective! 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Watch for any changes in bug activity to see if your tactics are working. Check the usual bug hangouts for fewer sightings, especially when it’s warm out.
  • Try setting up sticky traps. These traps work by catching bugs that are wandering around your home. Remember, the key is placement and monitoring these traps regularly to see which ones are nabbing the most bugs. Place sticky traps near windows or light sources these critters love for best results.

By tracking the number of bugs that end up in your traps, you’ll know if your bug battle plan is working or needs tweaking. 

Fewer bugs in the traps? 

High five! 

If the bug count stays stubbornly high or goes up, it may be time to rethink your strategy and call in the pros. 

Whatever you do, Avoid These Methods

  • Do Not Squash Boxelder Bugs: Squishing these pests may seem like a quick solution, but it can make your problem worse! When crushed, boxelder bugs release a nasty odor and can leave stubborn stains on surfaces and fabrics.
  • Don’t Use Pesticides Indoors: While it might be tempting to use chemical pesticides, they’re super toxic substances that can pose a risk to people and pests. Even worse, they may not eradicate your indoor bug infestation!
  • Don’t Panic: While they may be a nuisance, boxelder bugs do not pose any significant threat to humans. They do not bite, sting, or carry diseases. So remember to stay calm and take appropriate steps to manage their populations safely and effectively.

Are Boxelder Bugs Taking Over Your Property? Help is Just A Phone Call Away!

boxelder bugs pest control

Boxelder bugs are stinky and annoying, but you don’t have to deal with them on your own.

Here at Pest Dude, we work with an extensive network of exterminators who help Bay Area homeowners get rid of pest infestations daily.

Ready to tackle your boxelder bug problem head-on?

Give us a call now, and we’ll connect you with a professional in your area: (844) 532-0076.

zachary smith no bg

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Boxelder Bugs Control FAQs

Boxelder bugs are medium-sized insects known for their black color with red or orange markings on their backs.

Adults are about 1/2 inch long. They are commonly found in large groups, especially near boxelder trees.

Their life cycle starts with eggs laid in spring, leading to rapid reproduction in warmer months.

These bugs feed on sap from boxelder trees’ leaves, flowers, and seeds, occasionally feeding on other species.

Despite appearing in large numbers, they are mostly harmless to humans and do not cause significant damage to buildings.

The main reason for a boxelder bug infestation is the presence of their primary food source and habitat, the boxelder tree.

These bugs are drawn to the seeds and sap from these trees, where they also lay their eggs. Infestations usually happen in dry, warm conditions. Boxelder bugs often gather on the sunny sides of buildings, homes, and other structures.

As temperatures dip in the fall, boxelder bugs look for warm spots to spend the winter, often leading them to invade homes and other buildings. The mix of suitable environmental conditions and easily available food sources plays a role in boxelder bug infestations.

To stop boxelder bugs from bugging you, follow these tips:

  • Trim boxelder trees near your place, especially the ones dropping seeds. Pruning can cut down on the snacks available for these bugs.
  • Seal any cracks and gaps around windows, doors, and your home’s foundation to keep those bugs out. Use caulk or spray foam to fill these gaps and keep bugs out. 
  • Fix or swap out torn window and door screens to block their way in. Add screens to your vents and chimneys, too.
  • Set up sticky traps near entry points to snag these pests before they get inside.
  • Dial down the dampness outside by fixing leaks and sorting out drainage to make your place less appealing to the bugs.
  • Suck up any bugs that make it inside instead of squishing them to avoid attracting more pests. A quick once-over with a vacuum is more than enough to get rid of them. 

These tips can really cut down on those pesky critters and keep your place bug-free!

Boxelder bugs are like those annoying guests who overstay their welcome – they don’t bite, spread diseases, or wreck your house, but they do leave a mess! 

Watch out for their stains and funky smell. While these bugs are mostly harmless, they are really good at being pests!

Boxelder bugs usually hang out in homes more during the cooler fall months, but when spring rolls around and it gets warmer, they head back outside. 

They like to snack on sap from boxelder and other trees during the warmer seasons. So, by late spring to early summer, you won’t see them inside much as they go back to their outdoor homes.

zachary smith crop

Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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