How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs are often attracted to the boxelder tree, hence the reason for their name. They can be found all over the United States, or anywhere Boxelder trees grow.

You’ll often see boxelder bugs migrate into your homes and garages during the winter. This is because it prefers to abandon its overwintering site during fall to move back outdoors.

Moreso, while the insect pest is not harmful, it may constitute a nuisance when it finds its way into your sheds and homes in large numbers during the fall. Therefore, it would be best to be careful of this insect if you have boxelder trees that bear seeds in your garden. We say this because the pest is known to lay their eggs on the trees and quickly make the seed pods food.

Please note that boxelder does not do any serious damage to your gardens.

However, large numbers of box elder bugs in your property may give off a repulsive stench. During Autumn, however, these pests move to the south side of houses and trees in search of warmth. Once they breach the openings on home exteriors, they find it perfect for shelter.

That said, controlling these insects can be quite frustrating.

Luckily, these article equips you with proven pest control tips to wipe off Boxelder Bugs from your property. Let’s dive in!

Their Appearance

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs have a sharp black color with orange or reddish markings on their back. Their fully-grown adults usually come in an oval, flat or elongated body shape. Ideally, the insect measures approximately 1/2 an inch long.

They are characterized by two antennae and six legs, which usually make up half of the length of their body. The adults and the nymphs have certain things in common. However, the latter has a bright red color with no wings.

Boxelder bugs are considered strong and agile flyers, as they sometimes travel several miles from the trees where they hatched during their desperate search for food sources and places to overwinter.

Their Feeding

Boxelder bugs often feed on fallen seeds from Boxelder trees in the early spring. But as the leaves begin to open, they often migrate to maple trees or the female Boxelder trees to feed on any newly developed leaves.

Also, it has been known that they sometimes feed on apple trees and plum fruits.

Boxelder Bug Habits and Behaviors

These pest insects live on the seed-producing Boxelder trees and maple trees during the warmer period of the year, where they lay eggs and feed on seeds, leaves, and flowers.

However, a boxelder bug can also be seen on tiny cracks and crevices as they make their way outdoors. And while boxelder bugs are largely a fall pest, it’s not impossible to also find them during the spring.

It is worth pointing out that boxelder bugs don’t give off any odor during their normal activity. However, they tend to release a pungent (and bad-tasting) compound to irritate predators when disturbed or smashed. This, along with their orange or red markings, saves them from being eaten up by external predators.

This same defensive mechanism explains why they can gather in huge, conspicuous groups without the fear of being eaten by predators.

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Are Boxelder Bugs Dangerous?

Boxelder bugs neither bite nor sting.

So, they are mostly considered harmless to humans. However, in rare cases, the bug’s mouthpart may puncture your skin when it comes in contact with your body.

Don’t forget that elder bugs have chewing mouthpart adapted to crushing fruits, leaves, flowers, and seeds. Thus, you’ll only suffer a mild reaction from the bite.

The fact that a boxelder bug seldom bites doesn’t mean you want the pest problems near your plants, as they may wreak havoc on your property. Their mere presence can become a nuisance when they hide away in buildings and homes.

When these bugs die in the walls, the remains tend to attract other pests like beetles to your door, which is why many people refer to them as nuisance insects.

How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Even though the pest problem poses no serious threat to the health of homeowners, the presence of Boxelder bugs can be quite frustrating. As such many always ask how to get rid of boxelder bugs.

And here we’ve come up with tips on how to control boxelder bugs pest problem.

The good thing about these pest control methods is that they are easy to execute and work wonders. Let’s get in.

1. Vacuum them up

The easiest way to get rid of boxelder bugs in the home is to vacuum them up from the surfaces that appear like the wall cracks and crevices, the floors, or windowsills and doorways.

Getting rid of collected bugs immediately helps to banish their smelly remains, attracting other, more destructive insects, like the dermestid beetles.

While at this, it would be best to avoid squashing the boxelder bug as this might stain the affected area. Unlike other pests that mate indoors, your worries are over once you eliminate the boxelder bugs that invade your home and seal off their entry points since the pest does not reproduce indoors.

2. Trap them

Not every Boxelder bug moves about in plain sight. Indeed, some might choose to gather in hidden spots within your house, such as the attic or basements. Thus, a pro tip to get rid of Boxelder Bugs completely when they come inside is to place a small, lightweight trap at different corners of your house.

One of the most effective traps use for pest control is glue or light. This helps to lure out bugs from their shelter and then trap them. Once this is done, you should get rid of the traps as fast as possible to prevent the spread of foul odor within your home.

3. Spray residual insecticide

This provides another solution on how to get rid of boxelder bugs. Cracks and openings within your home might serve as a breeding ground for Boxelder bugs during Autumn and winter. When you apply the right insecticide to these openings, the Boxelder bugs will die before they get the chance to move indoors to hideaway.

It is important to use the insecticide according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Spray the openings on your windows, sidings, eaves, doors, and vents. While doing this, ensure that you steer clear of plants and your lawn since insecticides can destroy this perimeter.

Also, ensure that you keep your kids and pets away from any treated area. Once the insecticide destroys these boxelder bugs, you can siphon them out with the aid of a vacuum, then seal all the openings with caulk to prevent new bugs from entering.

Alternatively, you can use a homemade weapon like the dish soap solution for pest control. They help you save some buck since they are formulated with household ingredients. Besides, they solve your pest problem just as effectively as insecticides that are bought in stores.

You’ll need a bar of dish soap to make a homemade solution. Dilute about one or two spoons of the dish soap with water in a spray bottle, and then apply it directly on the boxelder tree, indoor spaces, or other surfaces where the bug shelter destroys them.

4. Hot or boiling water

This is another traditional yet potent method used to kill the Boxelder bug, instantly destroying it on contact. This is an alternative approach to adopting insecticides, which might pose a considerable threat to kids and pets in your house.

To control the bug with warm water, all you must do is heat a container with water inside. After this, you can get a container and fill it up with this warm or hot water. Then, pour a reasonable amount of the warm water carefully on sidewalks, cracks in the soil, walls, or other breeding spots where you notice their activities.

Endeavor to eradicate their young ones and eggs to prevent them from breeding.

5. Use DIY deterrents to minimize re-entry

You can employ a spray bottle that is filled with a mixture of soap and water. This provides an easy solution on how to get rid of boxelder bugs.

All you need to do is prepare a solution with the right soapy water concentration. Then, you target these bugs as they move around your house.

However, spraying your home with soap and water will not be enough deterrent to prevent other boxelder bugs from following the scent trail. For this reason, while the use of soapy water presents a good option, it is essential to eliminate the trail the scent may leave, and this could prove difficult since bugs can climb through tiny cracks and crevices and are often hidden away in the walls and other openings that are out of sight. However, you can make use of other scents.

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How to keep Boxelder Bugs Away

Preventing Boxelder bugs require several methods. Some of these are introduced as follows:

1. Evaluate your home to determine all entry points

You need to perform all sorts of reviews of the exterior of your home as regularly as possible. This is necessary for you to determine any spot where these bugs might be entering or hiding. If there is any hole in the siding, cracks in the foundation, or gaps around window trim, Boxelder bugs are most likely to explore and stay there.

Besides this, it is important to monitor any access points to the basement. If there is any crack in the foundation of your house, you should contact an expert before attempting to repair it by yourself.

However, for most gaps around your windows and doors, you can employ a combination of winterizing products and caulk to ensure that your home is sealed and prevent bugs from entering. You can also consider spray foam when you notice an obvious issue with wooden siding or on your exterior window trim. You can also use waterproofing tapes around your windows and doors.

2. Remove boxelder trees

It has already been established that these pest insects are attracted to seed-producing female Boxelder trees. As a result, you can easily substitute these with non-seed-producing male Boxelder trees. Since these are useless to these bugs, they will most likely not seek refuge there. Similarly, you can choose to plant other species of trees that will not attract bugs.

Felling trees is understandably a more drastic step to be employed, particularly when the infestation becomes almost uncontrollable. In this situation, the upsides of cutting trees down will outweigh the cons.

Given that Boxelder Bugs are nuisance pests controlling them might become necessary. Even though it is relatively easy to control them and prevent the spread of an early infestation, you can contact a professional when it becomes unmanageable for you.

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Are Boxelder Bugs Poisonous to Pets?

If you have pets susceptible to eating bugs, ensure that you make them steer clear of Boxelder bugs. As part of their defense mechanism against predators, these pests tend to release a very foul smell. As such, your pets may start vomiting once they taste it.

Even though it will not be for a long time, the stress of handling such a situation is something you – as a pet owner – would not savor.

Furthermore, pets react differently to boxelder poisoning. For example, dogs may start salivating profusely for a short period. But, dogs tend to be more tolerant to the effects of these boxelder bugs. Nonetheless, it’s not uncommon for some cats to also vomit or salivate profusely when they ingest boxelder bugs.

However, if you feel discontent with what you see after a while, you should contact a veterinarian to offer professional guidance on the next step to take.

What Attracts Boxelder Bugs?

Unsurprisingly, Boxelder bugs are attracted to their natural food source: seeds of a maple tree. They feed on the juice trapped inside the ungerminated seeds that might have fallen off the trees in the spring. Once the new seeds start developing all through the summer, they begin to feed on those.

Besides this, Boxelder bugs are attracted to places where they can easily find shelter for the impending winter. Naturally, these areas could include inside hollow logs, under the rocks, and behind loose barks of trees. They also find comfortable shelter inside different artificial structures. In these places, they can be seen in woodpiles or behind sidings.

To remain warm, they assemble on stucco facades or and on the surfaces of any west-facing structures that catch considerable amounts of sunlight.

Why Do Boxelder Bugs Stay Active in The Fall?

People often observe Boxelder bugs during falls than any other time of the year. This is the time they become the most frustrating – as nuisance pests. Often, during the summer and spring, a generation of these bugs develop. As the weather becomes cooler, they tend to hide away in a “survival mode.”

They often look for a suitable shelter to stay in for the winter. This often makes them invade human homes. This resulting congregation ensures that their presence becomes more obvious. They attempt to find their way through crevices and cracks, ventilation ducts, plumbing, damaged window screens, and utility ducts during this period.

What Smells Do Boxelder Bugs Hate?

Even though they are not seriously harmful, their smell may attract other Boxelder bugs, leading to more infestations. However, several preventive measures can get rid of Boxelder Bugs. Just like most other insects, a boxelder bug is repelled by the smell of certain chemicals and oil.

You can use natural citrus in homemade cleaners or apply a drop of citrus essential oil to areas in your home where you notice the presence of these bugs in a higher volume. You can specifically watch out for gaps in windows, around stonework, and baseboards. Boxelder Bugs are not fans of citrus.

Besides this, you can add small amounts of herbs in areas of your home where these Boxelder bugs tend to assemble in higher volume. Sage and whole cloves are relatively easy to come by, and bugs hate the smell of them.

In addition, they also hate Lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil.

You can use any of these to chase these pests away.

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Will Vinegar Kill Boxelder bugs?

Just like other bugs, vinegar is known to repel Boxelder bugs. It represents a natural way that could be employed to get rid of them without any form of poison.

How do you go about this?

The following steps will help:

  • Have a spray bottle ready and fill it with undiluted white vinegar. This is essential since other forms of vinegar will cause stains once they evaporate.
  • Then, spray your home wherever you might perceive their congregation. This could include the window, doorframes, wall edges, entryways, and other areas they might be around your house.
  • Double all possible areas you might think these pest bugs might likely use as an entrance to your house. This will possibly be where the Maple tree is. Ensure that you spray the area close to the tree. You can also spray the tree itself, if possible.


Boxelder bugs are often regarded as one of the less destructive house pests.

However, these pests do rare damages to fruiting trees such as peaches, strawberries, apples, grapes, and plums. Similarly, they are also dangerous to non-fruiting trees like maple.

Even though they are relatively harmless, a large population of boxelder bugs tends to become irritating and frustrating for homeowners when they seek shelter in your home during winter and fall. Besides, the disgusting smell they give off when disturbed or crushed could be quite irritating.

Luckily, this article has highlighted various items you can use to kill or get rid of the bug from your house, garden plants, host trees, windows, crevices, and other places they seek refuge. Some of which are insecticide, vacuum or shop vac, boiling water, etc.

Similarly, to keep them away, it would be best to cut off any Boxelder tree and other flowering plants they feed on from your garden. Ensure you also seal tiny openings in your house and evaluate your home constantly.

However, if the invasion is sporadic, you may need to invite an expert to your house to control the infestation.

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