How to Get Rid of Box Elder Bugs

Box elder bugs can be a nuisance in many households, especially during the fall. These insects can invade homes in large numbers, causing frustration for homeowners. While their presence is more of a nuisance than a health threat, knowing how to effectively manage and eliminate them is essential.

From natural repellents to more aggressive chemical control methods, there are various strategies available to combat these pests. Understanding the behavior of box elder bugs and implementing targeted approaches can make a significant difference in keeping them at bay.

Let's explore some effective methods to get rid of these pesky insects and regain control of your living space.

Key Takeaways

  • Use natural repellents like peppermint and lavender to deter box elder bugs.
  • Seal entry points with caulk or screens to prevent bug infiltration.
  • Vacuum or handpick bugs for physical removal, focusing on sunny areas.
  • Consider chemical control with insecticidal sprays, dust insecticides, or seek professional pest control.

Identifying Box Elder Bugs

The identification of box elder bugs is crucial in effectively managing and eliminating their presence in and around your home. Box elder bugs (Boisea trivittata) are easily recognizable by their distinct appearance. Adult box elder bugs are about half an inch long, have a black body with red markings on their wings, and three distinctive lengthwise red stripes on their pronotum. They have six legs and a pair of antennae.

During the nymph stage, box elder bugs are smaller and have a bright red color with black markings. As they mature into adults, they develop the characteristic black and red coloration. Box elder bugs are often found congregating in large numbers on boxelder trees, maple trees, and ash trees, especially during the warmer months. They feed on the sap of these trees and may occasionally invade homes seeking shelter as the weather cools.

Understanding the physical characteristics and behavior patterns of box elder bugs is essential for implementing effective control measures to manage their presence and prevent infestations.

Understanding Their Behavior

Observing the movement patterns and feeding habits of box elder bugs can provide valuable insights into their behavior and tendencies. Box elder bugs, scientifically known as Boisea trivittata, are primarily herbivores, feeding mainly on the seeds of box elder trees and other similar species. They are attracted to sunlight and warmth, often congregating on the south-facing sides of buildings during the cooler months to bask in the sun. These insects are known for their congregational behavior, forming large groups to hibernate during the winter.

Box elder bugs use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plant juices, causing minimal damage to trees but can become a nuisance when they invade homes in search of shelter. Their tendency to seek warmth and shelter leads them to enter buildings through small cracks and openings. Understanding these behaviors can help in implementing effective control measures to manage infestations and prevent future invasions. By disrupting their congregational habits and sealing off entry points, homeowners can reduce the presence of box elder bugs on their properties.

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Natural Repellents and Deterrents

When it comes to naturally deterring box elder bugs, essential oils like peppermint, neem, and tea tree oil have shown effectiveness in warding off these pests.

Additionally, planting insect-repelling herbs such as lavender, basil, and mint around your home can act as a natural barrier to deter box elder bugs from invading your living spaces.

These natural repellents offer a non-toxic and environmentally friendly way to keep box elder bugs at bay.

Essential Oils for Repelling

One effective method for repelling box elder bugs naturally is through the use of essential oils known for their deterrent properties. Essential oils such as peppermint, clove, and citrus oils contain compounds that are unpleasant to box elder bugs, making them effective repellents.

To create a DIY repellent spray, mix a few drops of these essential oils with water and a small amount of dish soap in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray around entry points, windows, doors, and other areas where box elder bugs may enter. Reapply the spray every few days or after rain.

The strong scent of these essential oils can help deter box elder bugs from infesting your home without the use of harsh chemicals.

Planting Insect-Repelling Herbs

To further enhance your natural defense against box elder bugs, consider incorporating insect-repelling herbs into your surroundings through strategic planting. Herbs such as mint, basil, lavender, and rosemary can act as natural repellents due to their strong fragrances that deter pests.

Planting these herbs near entry points, windows, and areas where box elder bugs are commonly found can help discourage their presence. The aromatic oils produced by these herbs disrupt the insects' ability to locate food sources and can confuse them, leading them to seek shelter elsewhere.

Additionally, these herbs can attract beneficial insects that prey on box elder bugs, creating a more balanced ecosystem in your garden or outdoor space. Incorporating insect-repelling herbs into your landscaping not only adds beauty but also serves as a proactive measure against box elder bugs.

Sealing Entry Points

Effectively sealing entry points is a crucial step in preventing box elder bugs from infiltrating your home. These pests can enter through small cracks, gaps in windows or doors, and other openings around the structure. To keep them out, carefully inspect your home for potential entry points and seal them off using caulk, weatherstripping, or screens. Focus on areas where pipes, wires, and cables enter the house, as these are common entry points for box elder bugs.

Start by examining the exterior of your home, paying close attention to areas where different materials meet, such as where siding meets the foundation or where the chimney meets the roof. Seal any gaps or crevices with appropriate materials to create a barrier against these bugs. Additionally, check for gaps around windows and doors, ensuring they are properly sealed to prevent bugs from sneaking in.

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Vacuuming and Physical Removal

When dealing with a box elder bug infestation, vacuuming can be a highly effective method to physically remove these pests from your home. By using a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment, you can easily suck up box elder bugs from walls, ceilings, and other surfaces.

Additionally, handpicking bugs and disposing of them in a sealed bag can help reduce their numbers and prevent further infestations.

Use Vacuum Cleaner

Consider utilizing a handheld vacuum with a hose attachment for efficient removal of box elder bugs from your living spaces. Box elder bugs tend to gather in large numbers, especially in warmer months, making vacuuming an effective method for reducing their population indoors.

When using a vacuum cleaner, focus on areas where these bugs are commonly found, such as around windows, door frames, and walls with direct sunlight exposure. Ensure the vacuum bag or canister is emptied immediately after use to prevent the bugs from escaping back into your home.

Vacuuming not only helps in physically removing the bugs but also eliminates their eggs, aiding in long-term control of box elder bug infestations.

Handpick Bugs

Utilize a pair of gloves and a container of soapy water to handpick box elder bugs as a method of physical removal from your living spaces.

When handpicking box elder bugs, carefully approach them to avoid startling and dispersing them. Gently pick up the bugs one by one using the gloves and drop them into the container filled with soapy water. The soapy water will effectively drown the bugs. Ensure the container is deep enough to prevent the bugs from crawling out.

This method is particularly useful for managing small populations of box elder bugs or for dealing with bugs in hard-to-reach areas where a vacuum cleaner may not be practical. Regularly monitor and handpick box elder bugs to prevent infestations from escalating.

Chemical Control Methods

To effectively combat box elder bugs, employing chemical control methods is a strategic approach that targets these pests at their source. One effective chemical control method is using insecticidal sprays specifically designed to target box elder bugs. These sprays contain active ingredients like pyrethroids or neonicotinoids, which are effective in killing box elder bugs upon contact. It is crucial to carefully read and follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective application.

Another chemical control method is the use of dust insecticides. These products can be applied in cracks, crevices, and other entry points to eliminate box elder bugs that may be hiding in these areas. Dust insecticides work by dehydrating the insects upon contact, leading to their eventual demise.

When using chemical control methods, it is important to consider the potential impact on non-target organisms and the environment. Always use these products according to the manufacturer's guidelines and consider seeking professional advice if unsure about the application process.

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Seeking Professional Help

Engaging a pest control professional with expertise in managing box elder bugs can provide effective and tailored solutions to address infestations in a systematic manner. These professionals have the knowledge and experience to accurately identify the extent of the infestation, locate key breeding areas, and determine the most appropriate treatment methods.

Upon inspection, the pest control expert may recommend a combination of strategies such as insecticide applications, sealing entry points, and habitat modifications to prevent future infestations. They can also offer advice on how to deter box elder bugs from returning and provide ongoing maintenance to ensure long-term control.

Professional pest control services often use specialized equipment and products that are not readily available to consumers. This allows for a more targeted and efficient approach to eliminating box elder bugs while minimizing risks to the environment and non-target species.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Box Elder Bugs Cause Damage to My Home or Garden?

Box elder bugs, while not destructive to structures or plants, can be a nuisance when they invade homes or gardens in large numbers seeking shelter. They primarily feed on seeds from box elder trees.

How Long Do Box Elder Bugs Typically Live?

Box elder bugs typically live for about one year, with their lifespan varying based on factors like temperature and food availability. These insects go through stages of development before reaching adulthood.

Do Box Elder Bugs Carry Diseases That Can Harm Humans or Pets?

Box elder bugs do not directly transmit diseases to humans or pets. However, their presence can trigger allergies in some individuals. It is advisable to take preventive measures against infestations to avoid potential health concerns.

Are There Any Plants or Landscaping Features That Attract Box Elder Bugs?

Box elder bugs are attracted to specific plants and landscaping features like box elder trees, maple trees, and sunny walls. These areas provide shelter, warmth, and food sources such as seeds and sap.

How Can I Prevent Box Elder Bugs From Returning in the Future After I Have Gotten Rid of Them?

Preventing box elder bugs from returning involves sealing entry points, reducing moisture sources, and maintaining a tidy outdoor space. Regularly inspecting and addressing potential habitats, such as piles of debris or overgrown vegetation, can help deter their resurgence.


In conclusion, effectively managing box elder bug infestations involves:

  • Identifying the pests
  • Understanding their behavior
  • Using natural repellents
  • Sealing entry points
  • Vacuuming
  • Physical removal
  • Considering chemical control methods if necessary

Seeking professional help may also be necessary for severe infestations. By implementing these strategies, homeowners can successfully rid their properties of box elder bugs and prevent future infestations.