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How to Control Boxelder Bugs

Pests on Seeds of Female Boxelder Trees, Ornamental Plants, Orchard Crops

© 2011 by Paul Johnson; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

The Boxelder bug is harmless to humans, photo courtesy Bruce Marlin

Boxelder bugs can be a major nuisance for homeowners who are unlucky enough to live near them. Boxelder bugs have a broad range from Maine to California, but tend to be most concentrated in northern and eastern regions.

While the bugs are harmless to both humans and trees, they have a knack for getting inside homes and apartments and even wintering in your siding or roof.

While they typically peak indoors around March and October, the best time to get rid of them can often be in summer months when the young are hatching.

If you’ve discovered Boxelder bugs in your garden or home for the first time, then there are two ways to treat them; organically and chemically.

If they’re outdoors you can use several different chemical solutions or organic alternatives, but if they’re indoors, then manual, organic, and reactive ways to get rid of the pests may be necessary.

Controlling Boxelder Bugs Outdoors with Chemicals

When the infestation is in your garden or surrounding your house and the bugs can only be found there, then a few types of pesticides will probably work. Prevention of an infestation is always the preferred method as this can be cheaper and use less chemicals.

A lot of pesticides aren’t particularly eco-friendly and they can make pets and humans sick if they’re exposed to the substances.

If your Boxelder bugs have chosen the outdoors to create their next empire, then a few chemicals which may be used to cut their expansion short are: Deltamethrin, Permethrin, Cyfluthrin and Bifenthrin.

Let someone who is not chemically-sensitive apply the pesticides and be sure and wear a face mask for protection. The whole outside of your home doesn’t need spraying, just where the infestation is. Wait for a sunny day as the Boxelders may be holding a picnic and are likely to congregate in clumps — they make for easy targets.

Controlling Boxelder Bugs Indoors and Outdoors the Organic Way

When they get inside a home, Boxelder bugs love to burrow. If you make it a point to seal up even the tiniest cracks in your walls or windows, then the bugs will be denied access from the very beginning.

These bugs are contortionists and can squeeze through the narrowest of spaces. If you see them inside, then merely suck them up with the vacuum.

Repeat as necessary for a few days and of course, empty the vacuum after each use. You’ll notice a population decline but you will need to keep up the vacuuming for several days in a row.

Organic spraying with an organic garlic pepper spray is also a good method of control. Just liquefy two hot peppers (habanero peppers are great) with two garlic bulbs in your blender, strain the juice, and add to a gallon of water in a pump-up sprayer.

Substituting compost tea for water for outdoor use is even a better idea, as it will nourish your trees and plants while eliminating the pests!

Boxelder bugs do hibernate like a lot of animals in northern or chilly climates. Once the weather warms up they’ll be active again and ready to party. This is when you should kick in your plan for increased active prevention.

Be observant and always wash your hands thoroughly if you touch any bugs or areas where you’ve seen them.

You can also wear latex gloves if the thoughts of getting up close to some of the insects is repugnant, and this will ensure that your hands remain uncontaminated by any parts of the pesky insect.

A more drastic solution for controlling Boxelder bugs is to remove any Boxelder or certain kinds of Maple trees in your yard, which the bugs are attracted to during the warmer months. Female trees of these species tend to harbor the most bugs.

While Boxelder and Silver Maple trees are often problem trees anyway, you may benefit by their removal. Other maples, such as Reds or Sugars, are gorgeous trees with high landscape value and should not be removed just because of the bugs.

If you have any tips about how to control boxelder bugs, please share them with our readers in the comment section below.

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About the author:

Paul Johnson is a writer for, a web resource focused on giving homeowners tips on controlling Boxelder bugs and box elder bug prevention.

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