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Boxelder Bugs–How to Get Rid of (and Prevent!) Box Elder Bugs

Fall is in the air. Pumpkin patches are opening, apples are ripening, and…boxelder bugs are back? That’s right. Boxelder bugs, often thought of as a springtime pest, are well known for their fall return. While you may not think much of them when they’re outside, you’ll certainly notice when a boxelder bug has moved into your home. So let’s talk about how to get rid of boxelder bugs.

Though not dangerous, boxelder bugs are a little bit gross. And worse, boxelder bugs tend to swarm. This means that where you see one, there are likely more than a few others nearby. Thankfully you can do a lot to effectively get rid of and prevent box elder bugs from ruining your fall season.

What are box elder bugs?

Boxelder bugs come by their common name honestly. Found largely on and around boxelder trees, they are native to the western U.S. However, time has found them spread widely across the United States and their namesake tree has spread as well. These fall pests are easily identifiable, with a trademark flattened, long oval body, and prominent black and reddish orange markings.

Box elders emerge in the spring to feed on fallen tree seeds, and then retreat during summer. Once the heat has passed and cool weather comes in, these bugs go in search of warmer pastures. This is when you can spot them congregated in swarms on homes, garaged, sheds, and anywhere else they can catch a free warm up.

Why do boxelder bugs want to come into my house?

Like so many winter pests, the uptick in creepy crawlies in your home during the winter months is the same reason you become a homebody–the cold. The colder months are as dreaded by insects as they are by humans, and boxelder bugs are looking for any opportunity to cozy up inside your walls, electrical sockets, and window sills.

Though harmless, the bugs are unpleasant, can let off a foul order when threatened, and can stain your furniture. So removing them as soon as you notice signs of infestation is important.

How To Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs From Inside Your Home

Vacuum Them

If you notice a few errant boxelder bugs in your home, don’t panic. There is good news about this fall pest. Though they want to come in and get warm, boxelders don’t reproduce inside of your house. However, this doesn’t mean you should start smashing or swatting them. When crushed, boxelders can stain furniture and release a putrid smell. To avoid damaging crushing the bugs, use your vacuum attachment hose to suck them up.

Move around your home and hit floors, wall crevices, windowsills, electrical outlets, and doorways. Dispose of the contents of your vacuum cleaner immediately. Leaving dead boxelders in your trash can prompt the invasion of other, more destructive insects who feed on them.

Trap Them

The second method you can use to get rid of boxelders in your home is to trap them. Using traps is another way to get rid of these bugs without crushing them. Good trapping options include glue traps or other lightweight insect traps. Position traps in dark corners and check them regularly. Dispose of any caught insects promptly.

Dish Soap

Perhaps one of the effective tools in the fight against boxelder bugs is one that almost every single homeowner and renter alike have on hand–dish soap. To create a solution strong enough to kill the boxelder pests, mix two tablespoons of dish soap into a 16 oz spray bottle of regular water. Then, go hunting.

Spray the solution on the bugs and wait. This combination should poison the bugs quickly, allowing you to remove them and easily clean the affected area. The bonus? Most dish soap is non toxic to people and household pets.

Seal Your Home Thoroughly

Bugs can’t move through walls. However, they’re extremely good at finding the small cracks and crevices in our homes that we didn’t even know existed. To prevent boxelders and other pests from finding their way into your house, make sure it is sealed up tight.

This means caulking doors and windows, and making sure electrical sockets are flush with the wall. Inspect these areas seasonally and take care of any gaps that may have formed with time.

How To Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs From Outside Your Home

Diatomaceous Earth

When it comes to dealing with a boxelder infestation outside of your home, don’t waste time. Break out the diatomaceous earth, instead. This organic, talc-like powder is a naturally occurring substance. Made of the fossilized remains of microalgae, diatomaceous earth is a food grade material that will not harm humans or pets. Lucky for us, however, it is highly deadly to boxelders.

To treat the affected area, cover hands and eyes. Then, spread the powder according to manufacturer instructions around trees, garden beds, window sills, and the foundation of your home where boxelders find their way in. After a few hours, the powder penetrates the bug’s exoskeleton. This causes rapid rehydration followed by death. Repeat treatment until infestation is removed, or if new swarms occur.

Remove Boxelder Trees

If you simply can’t stand maintaining treatment, or you’re just sick of seeing these bugs, it may be time to go straight to the source. Boxelder trees are popular for their shade and curb appeal. But if yours is causing pest problems, it might be time to say goodbye.

Removing boxelder trees on your property can go a long way in reducing the number of insects that patrol your yard and find their way into your home. Remove the tree yourself, or get a quote on tree removal in your area.

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