How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs Efficiently

Boxelder Bugs are one of the most commonly found pests in the US. You can identify them by the red markings on their dark brown or black abdomen. They are nearly ½ inch long and are often attracted towards the boxelder tree (which gives them their name). Sometimes, these creepy crawlies can also be spotted on other trees.

Although they hardly cause any significant harm to the trees they attack, they can turn into a real nuisance at certain times during the year when they invade homes and multiply rapidly. Sometimes their piercing-sucking mouthparts may puncture your skin, causing minor irritation. They can even stain your walls and other areas with their fecal material.

a boxelder bug on a leaf

Image by Sandeep Handa from Pixabay

You can spot them in clusters around pillars, alongside walls, bases of trees, and row fencing during Fall. If you struggle with these pests at your home, you should know a few simple ways on how to get rid of boxelder bugs. But before we get to that, here is a brief overview about these invaders.

What Are Boxelder Bugs?

boxelder bug on the ground

Image by Katja Schulz from Flickr

Boxelder bugs are the occasional Fall invaders that feed on the seed-bearing boxelder trees. However, you can also spot them on ash trees or maple trees. Adult boxelder bugs enter the tree structures during the fall to seek Winter shelter. They spend overwinter in the tree structures and other protected areas.

They may invade protected places like houses, buildings, crevices or cracks in walls, attics, doors, wall voids, under windows, or around foundations to seek shelter. These insects love basking in the sun, and can come out during Winter time on days when the sun is shining.

During Spring when temperatures are warmer, they will emerge from their hiding to search host trees to lay eggs and feed. More often than not, these bugs swarm on the west and south sides of buildings, because these areas are usually the warmest and the sunniest. The population of boxelder bugs grows substantially during dry, hot Summers.


Many myths are associated with how to prevent the proliferation of boxelder bugs. Some people believe that using soapy water, mothballs, or bug bombs may help in killing boxelder bugs. But these methods are mostly superficial, and do not address the root cause of boxelder bug invasion. So, how to get rid of boxelder bugs?

The right approach should include three aspects: prevention, exclusion, and TAP insulation. Boxelder bugs often proliferate in the fall and spring. If you take appropriate action before they start flocking towards your house, you could prevent potential damage.

Preventive Measures

farmer spraying pesticide

Image by zefe wu from Pixabay 

Prevention is the key to avoiding any kind of bug infestation. You can spray residual insecticides on the exterior walls of your house to keep boxelder bugs from overwintering. With an early treatment, you can control the immature stages of these bugs.

Ideally, you should spray the exterior walls twice: once during Spring and early Summer months in which they emerge, and once during Fall when they search for shelter. Once these pesky creepers have entered your premises to overwinter, it would be far more difficult to control their proliferation by locating all infested voids.

Prevention is also the most cost-effective way to keep these bugs out without major repairs to your house. If your home has a history of boxelder bugs invasion, locate and seal as many exterior crevices and cracks as possible during early Summer. However, if these bugs have entered your indoors, you can even remove them with a vacuum cleaner.

You may also consider using an insecticide spray around your window seals, baseboards, and home interior to further control these bugs. However, while an insecticide spray works as the last line of defense, it cannot stop the bugs from entering your home. The boxelder bugs eventually die when they come in contact with the insecticide spray.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

TAP Insulation



Other approaches on how to get rid of boxelder bugs include the application of insecticides. For this, you can both chemical-based and organic insecticides.

Chemical Insecticides

Organic Insecticides


Whatever solution you may choose on how to get rid of boxelder bugs, remember to follow these tips:

  • Plug visible weep holes using a wire mesh.
  • Equip attic vents and foundation with tight-fitting screens
  • Fix door jams and broken window screens
  • Plug any visible cracks in the roof or foundation using exclusion materials
  • Caulk around cracks and utility lines.

When you have tried and tested all chemical approaches on how to get rid of boxelder bugs in vain, try manual removal. Remove all female boxelder trees from your yard. You can plant male boxelder trees instead. Seed or fruit bearing boxelder trees attract the boxelder bugs. You can also introduce predators into the yard environment. Praying mantis and spiders serve as natural predators to the boxelder bug.

However, purposefully introducing new insects into the yard’s ecosystem may upset the balance. You can place captured spiders and praying mantis egg cases in the bushes or trees. You can also plant raspberry bushes and rose bushes to attract praying mantises into your yard.

Another effective approach is to hose down the bugs. Spray the bugs out of your yard with a forceful stream of water from a garden hose. It may not kill the bugs, but it will deter them from gathering. Finally, you can remove and kill them physically. You can stomp or swat the bugs whenever you see them in the yard. Alternatively, you could release them outside the yard, and achieve safety of your home and complete peace of mind.

Featured Image: Image by Sandeep Handa from Pixabay

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Last update on 2021-02-28 at 16:31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lucy M. Clark

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

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