All we want to know is how to get rid of boxelder bugs permanently because many of us are being invaded by these nasty little things. However, in this article, we’ll also discuss how to identify them, where they come from, and whether they’re harmful or not.
What Does A Boxelder Bug Look Like?
Boisea Trivittata, or more commonly known as the boxelder bug, is primarily a North American bug. It’s named after its natural habitat, the boxelder tree. However, it can also be found on maple and ash trees.
These red-shouldered bugs are usually ½ inches long. They are orange and black or red and black. Those colors make them easier for us to spot.
Six long legs help them to move really fast, and two antennae near the mouth help them to better navigate their surroundings. The eyes are red, ball-shaped, and seem too large for the head.
Boxelder Bug Identification
We’ve probably seen boxelder bug pictures before, so it shouldn’t be a problem to recognize them. Also, we can easily identify boxelder bugs simply because we can usually see them in swarms.
They have two really distinct orange stripes that run alongside their body. The third one is located behind their head.
Adult boxelder bugs are the ones we usually spot in our homes. We can recognize them by their size, as they can grow up to ½ inches in length. They have a pair of long black wings that sit crossed on their back.
Sometimes we mistake them for stink bugs since they can resemble them.
The boxelder nymphs develop in eggs.
We can easily identify their nests by spotting those eggs on leaves and seed pods of boxelder trees. They can also be found in the surrounding vegetation. The eggs are yellow in color and placed in large groups.
As the boxelder nymph grows inside the egg, the egg gradually changes its color to red.
The nymphs have to go through five different stages until they become adults.
Where Do Boxelder Bugs Come From?
We can usually find boxelder bugs across the entire United States. However, they are mainly present across the whole North America.
As I mentioned before, their natural habitat is the boxelder tree, but they can also be found on maple, ash and the surrounding vegetation. Still, they usually don’t stop there and sometimes enter our homes, sheds and other facilities in swarms.
The main reason why they invade our properties is usually the cold. They look for dark and warmer places to hide, so that’s why our garages and outbuildings are the first choices for them.
The boxelder bugs emerge once the spring comes. They spend two weeks feeding on boxelder seeds and then start their mating season. The female specimen carries eggs to the leaves, branches and seed pods.
The nymphs grow throughout the summer and usually become adults by fall. Those who aren’t fully grown, can’t survive the cold weather.
Are Boxelder Bugs Harmful?
The boxelder bugs usually feed on the essential oils from boxelder seed pods and other maple trees and vines.
However, we can also see them feeding on fruits in the garden during dry summers. They feed with their proboscis by penetrating the plant tissue. They also use their acidic mouth fluids to dissolve the food and make it easier to consume.
So what kind of damage can they make?
Well, usually, the most damage happens to maple and boxelder trees. Some yellowing, a curling shape, and spots on the edges of leaves are clear signs of infestation. The boxelder bugs rarely feed on fruit crops, and when they do, the damage is purely cosmetic.
Once boxelder bugs enter our home, we can expect them to be a major problem.
However, they won’t cause any structural damage and contaminate our food. They can sometimes show up in flour, so we should always make sure that the containers are sealed tightly.
On the other hand, their large numbers can cause disgust, and even produce an awful odor, especially when disturbed or crushed. The amount of excrement and dead bugs can also cause the filth to pile up and become unbearable.
Discoloration on the walls is also possible if we let swarms stay there for some time. So all of those above are the most common reasons why we want to know remove boxelder bugs from your property.
How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs
So how can we eliminate boxelder bugs?
Well, destroying all the bugs found in the house and outdoors has the best effect when done together. However, chemical pesticides are effective but can be dangerous, especially if we use them indoors.
Also, killing boxelder bugs in large numbers at once can encourage other pests that feed on corpses to invade. Carpet beetles are the ones that can be the most troublesome, as they lay eggs right where they feed on dead remains.
However, there are safe remedies to use, and that won’t attract carpet beetles or other pests. For example, a boxelder bug spray, dish soap and bug traps are always effective.
Boxelder Bug Spray
They have an active ingredient called deltamethrin, which is the most effective repellent against this kind of insect. They are usually odorless and don’t stain surfaces. What’s more, most of them are approved by EPA.
When we are using products like these, we should always take precautions and follow the instructions closely. Also, some of these sprays contain the ingredient bifenthrin that has highly potent effects that can last up to a year. However, it’s not recommended that we apply it to plants — only on other surfaces like porches, windows, etc.
How to Use
Bug sprays are safe enough so that we can apply them both indoors and outdoors.
So, how to get rid of boxelder bugs with these sprays?
They are easily applicable. We can spray them directly on the bugs or infested surfaces.
The treatment effect of such sprays lasts up to several weeks after the initial application. Sometimes it will be required to apply this insecticide multiple times to get a satisfying result.
- Sprays incorporate deltamethrin, which is most effective against boxelder bugs
- Easily applicable
- The effect can last up to several weeks
- We shouldn’t apply it to plants
- Sometimes we’ll need to do multiple treatments to eliminate these bugs
Boxelder Bugs Dish Soap
Dish soap is a very effective remedy against boxelder bugs.
The main theory behind this is that the dish soap breaks down their hard shell. Thus, the bug’s cell membranes deteriorate. As a result, a boxelder bug will dehydrate and die.
How to Use
This technique works only when we apply the spray directly on the bug. The dish soap won’t affect bugs that don’t come directly in contact with it.
To use this technique, we’ll need a standard spray bottle. Then, we’ll need to mix up to 30ml of dish soap with water. After that, we simply ought to aim at each insect and spray the liquid on them. We should be able to see the results soon.
- Easily applicable
- It must be sprayed directly onto each bug to kill it
Boxelder Bug Trap
There are three types of traps for boxelder bugs:
Boxelder bug traps that incorporate light are effective simply because those bugs are attracted to it.
Any form of electricity usually mesmerizes different kinds of pests, and thus, with such a trap, we can to easily gather them and get rid of them permanently.
Glue traps are a somewhat different remedy as they are covered in a sticky substance. We place them where the bugs usually appear. Once they come out, they will get stuck in them and won’t be able to escape.
Powder traps are a bit more complex but very efficient.
These are traps that are filled with powder and also have a source of light. I usually attach them to a windowpane. The light attracts the bugs, and thus the bugs enter the trap. Then the powder does its work by sticking to their legs and preventing them from escaping.
As such, this is one of the best ways to get rid of boxelder bugs.
How to Use
Each type of trap should be placed near the infestation, except for the powder trap. Powder traps usually go on the window panes.
Always look for cracks, holes and other possible entry points in your home. Then, place the trap and check it from time to time to see the results. Once it’s filled with bugs, throw it away or empty it.
- An efficient way to safely get rid of multiple bugs without attracting other corpse-eating pests
- There’s no need to look for the bugs to get rid of them
- A bit more expensive than other solutions
- Bugs that don’t get caught still need to be taken care of
How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Inside the House
The most important thing to do when we want to get rid of boxelder bugs in the house is to figure out where they enter.
We already know they infest our homes because they are looking for shelter, so we should always check for the most logical entrances.
Sealing Points of Entrance
Locating and sealing points of entrance for boxelder bugs is crucial if we want to get rid of them permanently. However, this process can take some time and extra materials, so we must be ready to commit to it.
How to Use
We should seal our windows, screens, and doors.
There shouldn’t be any gaps that would allow them to get in.
Plumbing and wiring can also leave small gaps when they come through the exterior walls. Depending on their size, we can seal them successfully by using plaster or polyurethane foam.
Another effective measure we should take is to screen off vent pipes and other openings on our roof. Loose sidings on our homes are another point of entrance that boxelder bugs use, so we should always take care of those too.
After that, we can start exterminating the bugs that are already inside our home.
We can use sprays, dish soap or place bug traps in order to effectively get rid of them in a certain area.
Sealing points of entrance will prevent them from laying the eggs inside. Thus, their numbers will be much lower during the spring and summer.
- Bugs won’t be able to enter our home and lay eggs.
- All bugs that were already inside will stay inside, and we’ll be able to get rid of them for good.
- It can take some time in order to locate an seal all possible entrances.
- We’ll have to spend money on plaster or polyurethane foam.
How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Outside
It is very important that we deal with these black beetles outside too. The more colonies we destroy, the fewer bugs will try to enter our homes before winter.
We’ve already mentioned that boxelder bugs won’t damage the crops too much. However, we should still deal with them in order to prevent their numbers from growing.
Home Remedies and Insecticides
Using all of the aforementioned methods will prove to be efficient against boxelder bugs even outside. However, we should make sure to avoid using insecticides near our crops.
How to Use
We should look for boxelder bugs in dry trees, wood or rock piles in our backyard and other similarly convenient places near our home. Once we locate them, the methods for getting rid of them are the same as those that we can implement indoors.
We just need to make sure to avoid insecticides that are highly toxic.
- Getting rid of boxelder nests near our house will prevent them from getting in.
- We’ll see fewer boxelder bugs during the year.
- We can never completely drive them out of our property, especially if there are boxelder trees nearby.
- Insecticides can end up on our crops if we’re not too careful.
Best Home Remedies to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs
So how to get rid of boxelder bugs with home remedies? If we want to avoid investing in insecticides to get rid of boxelder bugs, there are certain things found in our homes that can help us out.
- Spray them with soap and water – Dish soap, as we mentioned before, is a highly effective homemade remedy against these bugs. Spraying them with this mixture will eliminate them quickly
- Vacuum them – Use a shop vac, fill it with soapy water and vacuum the bugs. This method is highly effective if you’re dealing with swarms.
- Seal your house – Once again, seal all entrances and gaps in your home. Also, install weatherstripping on doors and windows.
How to Kill Boxelder Bugs Naturally
Most of us are afraid of using different types of insecticides and chemicals. That’s why we want to know how to get rid of boxelder bugs naturally.
Diatomaceous Earth Powder
The most natural way to kill boxelder bugs would be to apply diatomaceous earth powder.
But why is this food-grade diatomaceous earth so efficient?
Simply put, the powder feels almost like sandpaper to all insects. It is really sharp, so it easily scrapes their exoskeleton. It has a similar effect on them as dish soap.
How to Use
All we need to do is to sprinkle the powder on areas where the bugs usually gather. A boxelder bug that comes into contact with diatomaceous earth will eventually dehydrate and die as a result.
So if you want to get rid of boxelder bugs naturally, the diatomaceous earth would be the best answer.
Cutting a boxelder tree in our yard can be the last resort against this pest.
However, it won’t be effective if there are other boxelder trees nearby. These bugs can travel with boxelder propeller-like seed pods. Thus, their eggs will again eventually get near our homes.
- Easily applicable.
- 100% efficient.
- Completely safe and natural.
- Must be put exactly on areas where boxelder bugs usually show up.
- Bugs must come into direct contact with it in order to die.
Boxelder Bugs Prevention Tips
- Seal around frames.
- Check utilities, plumbing, and wiring for gaps.
- Check foundation and siding for cracks.
- Weatherstrip doors, especially at the bottom.
- Screen off roof openings and vent pipes.
- Remove wood piles, debris, and other junk from the yard.
- Use a garden hose to spray away bugs that swarm on the side of the house.
- Spray trees with horticultural oil before their mating season starts.
Boxelder Bugs Control Guide
- Use boxelder bug sprays to kill them both indoors and outdoors.
- Try to spray them with dish soap.
- If their numbers are large, vacuum them after filling the vacuum container with soapy water.
- Place boxelder bug traps near windows.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on places where they usually gather.
Boxelder Bug vs Kissing Bug: What’s the Difference?
Kissing bugs can be rather dangerous as opposed to boxelder bugs. They can carry a parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that can eventually lead to the deadly Chagas disease.
Kissing bugs have a cone-shaped head, very thin antennae, and thin legs.
They are dark brown or black with tiny orange or yellow stripes on the edges of their body. That is the main difference between them and boxelder bugs.
As I’ve mentioned before, boxelder bugs have orange or red stripes that take up a larger surface and also incorporate a stripe behind their head. Their antennae are also somewhat thicker. A kissing bug is also most active in May and October.
Both kissing bugs and their excrement can contain the dangerous parasite. Therefore, if you notice one, make sure not to touch it with your bare hands.