how to get rid of Boxelder Bugs with These Expert-Approved Methods

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Boxelder Bugs
how to get rid of Boxelder Bugs with These Expert-Approved Methods 1


Boxelder bugs are a common nuisance during spring and fall, congregating in large numbers on buildings and outdoor spaces. Their presence can be quite bothersome, leading to stains and emitting unpleasant odors when crushed.

In this article, we will explore expert-approved methods for effectively eliminating boxelder bugs and preventing future infestations. From understanding the boxelder bug life cycle to natural approaches for management, we’ve got you covered with comprehensive strategies to bid these pesky insects farewell.

1. Understanding the Boxelder Bug Life Cycle

Boxelder bugs, scientifically known as Boisea trivittata, undergo a fascinating life cycle that consists of three main stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults.

Boxelder Bugs Eggs

The boxelder bug life cycle begins when adult females lay clusters of reddish-brown eggs on the bark, leaves, or branches of their preferred host trees, such as boxelder, maple, and ash trees. These eggs are typically laid in cracks or crevices and can be found in large numbers. Each egg is about 1/16 inch in size and has a cylindrical shape.

Boxelder Bugs Nymphs

After a period of about 10 to 14 days, the eggs hatch into small nymphs. The nymphs are initially bright red in color with black legs and antennae. As they grow, they molt several times, gradually developing the characteristic black and red markings on their wings. The nymphs go through five instars or developmental stages before reaching adulthood.

Adults Boxelder Bugs

Once the nymphs have completed their growth and development, they emerge as fully matured adult boxelder bugs. Adult boxelder bugs are approximately 1/2 inch long and have a distinctive appearance with their black bodies marked by bright red lines along the edges of their wings. They also have reddish-orange eyes.

Understanding the boxelder bug life cycle is crucial for effective control strategies. These pests have a relatively short lifespan of only a few months. In colder regions, the adults seek shelter in warm areas during winter months and may enter homes or buildings seeking refuge. This behavior makes early intervention important to prevent infestations.

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how to get rid of Boxelder Bugs with These Expert-Approved Methods 2

Understanding Boxelder Bug Attraction Factors

Boxelder bugs are naturally attracted to sources of warmth and light, which can make buildings more susceptible to infestations. Understanding these attraction factors can help you implement effective preventive measures. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Warmth: Boxelder bugs seek shelter in warm areas as they prepare for winter. Buildings with southern or western exposure tend to attract larger numbers of these pests. Ensuring proper insulation and sealing off potential entry points will help reduce their attraction to your property.
  • Light: Boxelder bugs are drawn to well-lit areas, especially during the fall when they congregate in large numbers before seeking overwintering sites. Consider using yellow or sodium vapor lights instead of white lights, as they are less attractive to these insects.

By minimizing the warmth and light sources that attract boxelder bugs, you can make your home or building less appealing to them.

2. Effective Ways to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

When dealing with boxelder bugs, it’s essential to have a plan in place for eliminating them. Fortunately, there are several effective methods you can use to tackle these pests head-on. These strategies target both the bugs themselves and their entry points into your home, ensuring a comprehensive approach to eradication. By combining these methods, you can successfully eliminate boxelder bugs from your property. Here are some expert-approved techniques to consider:

Method 1: Spray them with a solution of dish soap and water

A simple and cost-effective way to eliminate boxelder bugs is by using a solution of dish soap and water. This method works by suffocating the bugs and causing them to die. To use this technique:

  1. Mix a few tablespoons of dish soap with water in a spray bottle.
  2. Locate areas where boxelder bugs are present.
  3. Directly spray the solution onto the bugs, ensuring thorough coverage.
  4. Wait for the soap to take effect and kill the insects.
  5. Clean up any dead bugs that remain.

Method 2: Clean infested surfaces with dish soap

Boxelder bugs leave behind pheromone trails that attract other bugs to the same area. By cleaning infested surfaces with a solution of dish soap and water, you can remove these trails and discourage other bugs from congregating in the same spot. To clean infested surfaces:

  1. Prepare a mixture of dish soap and water in a bucket or container.
  2. Dip a sponge or cloth into the solution, ensuring it’s well-soaked.
  3. Wring out any excess liquid.
  4. Thoroughly scrub the affected areas, paying close attention to any visible signs of bug activity.
  5. Rinse the surface with clean water and dry it thoroughly.

Method 3: Vacuum up the bugs

If you have a handheld vacuum cleaner, you can easily suck up boxelder bugs from walls, ceilings, windows, and other surfaces. This method is particularly useful for capturing individual bugs or small clusters. To vacuum up boxelder bugs:

  1. Attach a crevice tool or brush attachment to your vacuum cleaner.
  2. Set the vacuum to a high suction setting.
  3. Direct the nozzle towards the bugs, ensuring close contact.
  4. Gently suck up the insects, taking care not to crush them.
  5. Empty the vacuum bag or canister immediately after use to prevent escape.

Method 4: Seal potential entry points

To prevent boxelder bugs from entering your home in the first place, it’s important to seal any potential entry points. By blocking off their access routes, you can effectively cut off their source of entry. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Doors: Install door sweeps or weather stripping to create a tight seal at the bottom of exterior doors.
  • Windows: Check for gaps or cracks around window frames and seal them with caulk.
  • Electrical cover plates: Use outlet gaskets or foam sealers behind electrical cover plates to close off gaps.
  • Other openings: Inspect your home for any other openings, such as utility pipes or vents, and cover them with mesh screens or caulking.

By implementing these methods, you can significantly reduce the population of boxelder bugs in and around your home. However, it’s important to note that these strategies may need to be repeated periodically, especially during peak seasons when boxelder bug activity is at its highest.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to managing boxelder bugs. By combining the elimination methods discussed in this section with long-term prevention techniques, you can effectively keep boxelder bugs at bay.

3. Exclusion Techniques: Keeping Boxelder Bugs Out for Good

One of the most effective ways to manage boxelder bug infestations is through long-term prevention. By implementing exclusion techniques, you can create an environment that is less attractive to these pests, reducing the likelihood of an infestation.

How to Keep Boxelder Bugs Out

Here are some measures you can take to keep boxelder bugs out of your home:

  1. Seal Cracks and Gaps: Inspect your doors, windows, and foundation for any cracks or gaps that may serve as entry points for boxelder bugs. Seal these openings using caulk or weather-stripping to restrict their access.

4. The Role of Boxelder Trees and Vegetation Management

Boxelder bugs are often found near boxelder trees because these trees provide a suitable habitat and food source. These bugs feed on the sap of boxelder trees, as well as other tree species like maple and ash.

How Boxelder Trees Impact Boxelder Bug Infestations

One effective way to decrease the population of boxelder bugs is to remove or trim box elder trees. This reduces the attractiveness of your property to these pests. However, keep in mind that getting rid of box elder trees may not completely eliminate boxelder bugs, as they can still exist in other nearby vegetation or neighboring properties.

The Importance of Vegetation Management

Controlling vegetation is crucial in managing boxelder bug infestations. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Replace attractive plants: If you have plants that attract boxelder bugs, consider replacing them with less appealing alternatives. This helps lower the chances of attracting large numbers of bugs to your property.
  2. Prune and maintain vegetation: Regularly prune and maintain your yard and garden to reduce hiding places for boxelder bugs. Removing dead leaves, branches, and debris eliminates potential shelter areas for these pests.

5. Natural Approaches for Boxelder Bug Management

The use of natural repellents and control methods can provide an alternative approach to managing boxelder bugs. These methods are eco-friendly and can be particularly appealing to those who prefer to avoid chemical solutions.

Exploring Natural Repellents:

  • Garlic, Sage, and Lavender:These ingredients are known for their repelling properties against boxelder bugs.
  • The strong scents of garlic, sage, and lavender act as deterrents, making them less likely to infest properties where these natural scents are present.

Other Natural Remedies to Try:

In addition to the aforementioned natural repellents, there are several other options that can help deter boxelder bugs from infesting properties:

  • Neem Oil Spray:Neem oil is a popular choice for pest control due to its natural insecticidal properties. It disrupts the life cycle of boxelder bugs, making it an effective deterrent.
  • Mint, Clove, and Eucalyptus:These essential oils are known for their bug-repelling qualities. Spritzing these scents in bug-prone areas can help discourage boxelder bugs from congregating.

6. Dealing with Boxelder Bugs in Outdoor Spaces

When it comes to dealing with boxelder bugs in outdoor spaces, it’s important to take specific measures to disrupt their life cycle and prevent infestations in gardens or yards. Here are some effective methods for addressing boxelder bugs outdoors:

Disrupting their Life Cycle

  • Applying horticultural oils or neem oil spray on infested plants can help disrupt the boxelder bug life cycle. These natural substances can interfere with the bugs’ development and reproductive process, reducing their population over time.

By using horticultural oils or neem oil spray on plants that are prone to boxelder bug infestations, you can create an inhospitable environment for these pests, ultimately deterring them from congregating and reproducing in outdoor areas. These methods offer a natural and environmentally friendly approach to managing boxelder bugs without resorting to chemical pesticides.


To effectively manage boxelder bug problems, early intervention and preventive measures are key. By implementing a combination of the strategies discussed in this article, you can take a comprehensive approach towards long-term management of boxelder bugs.

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