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12 Answers on Boxelder Bug Control

Boxelder Bug FAQs

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12 Answers on Boxelder Bug Control

The Boxelder Bug

by Tom Murphy VII
  1. What are these red and black bugs on my house?
    If they are:
    • about 1/2-inch long ...
    • black with three red stripes, vertical edge lines on their bodies, and red lines on the edges of its wings ...
    • look as though their wings for an upside-down V when they are rest with their wings lying flat ....
    they are probably boxelders bugs.

  2. Why are they on my home?
    As their name implies, boxelder bugs are attracted to boxelder trees. If you have these, or silver maple trees to which they are also attracted, around your home or neighborhood, you are very likely to have boxelder bugs.

  3. Why do they show up in the fall?
    The bugs are around during the spring and summer, but because they live and breed in boxelder and silver maple trees. Although they feed on the leaves, flowers and seed pods of the trees, they do not cause damage, so people rarely take much notice of them during these seasons. But in the fall, however, the bugs start looking for shelter in homes and other buildings structures. The boxelders will gather on the sun-warmed exteriors of buildings; then when the weather cools further, they will squeeze into and through tiny cracks and crevices in the home's structure, beneath siding, and under eaves.

  4. What happens if I don't get rid of them?
    The boxelders will overwinter in the walls of the home until the warmth brings them out. And that warmth can be the heated air from inside your home, bringing them out of the walls into the rooms of your home during the winter months. Like bugs such as stink bugs and squash bugs, boxelders can detect temperature differences of as little as one degree, so it doesn't take much for them to decide it's time to move further into a warmed environment.

  5. Will they bite or me or my family?
    No, boxelders bugs do not bite or sting people

  6. Do they cause any other damage?
    Not unless they are high populations. Boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest. They only live for a few days and do not infest food or cause property damage, and they do not do not breed indoor. But when a lot of them get into your home, they can be very intrusive and annoying, and their excrement can stain surfaces such as walls, furniture, and drapes.

  7. I've seen some on my plants. Will they hurt them?
    Boxelder bugs in and around houseplants are generally in search of moisture. Rarely will they cause any damage to the plants.

  8. How do I get rid of boxelder bugs that get into my home?
    Once the pests get in, physical removal is the best, and really the only practical, way to get rid of them. A few options are to:
    • Use a vacuum with a long-hose attachment to gather up the bugs.
    • Directly spray the bugs with a dish soap/water solution (See question #10 below). Then ...
    • Sweep up dead bugs with a broom, or vacuum.
    • Never squash a boxelder bug; this can stain the surface on which it is killed.
  9. How can I keep them off my home in the first place?
    A residual insecticide can be sprayed on the exterior walls of the home where the bugs are found. This is most effective in the spring or fall when the boxelder bugs are just beginning to emerge (spring) or shelter (fall). The residual will help to deter the bugs from landing, it will not remain effective once cold weather sets in. For do-it-yourselfers, there are retail products labeled for boxelder bug control. Be sure to purchase and use only products that are specifically labeled for this pest, read and follow all label directions, and use safety equipment. You may also want to contract with a pest management professional who will have the proper products and equipment for the job.

  10. Are there any non-toxic methods of control?
    According to the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, a solution of 1/2 cup dish soap to one gallon of water can kill boxelders when sprayed directly on the bugs that congregate on the exterior of your home. However, this will not have a residual effect, but would need to be reapplied every time the bugs congregate.

  11. If they are already on my home, are there ways to prevent them from coming in?
    The best prevention is to inspect your home for ways they (and other pests) can be getting in, then Build out the Bugs by screening or caulking all cracks, crevices, gaps, and openings in your home; repairing any torn or broken door or window screens, and ensuring doors and windows are well-sealed; employing other exclusion techniques to reduce entry points and numbers.

  12. Is there any way to permanently keep the bugs away from my home?
    The most permanent control of boxelder bugs is the removal of boxelder and silver maple trees near the home, as these are a source of food and place of breeding for the bugs when they are active during spring and summer, but this is not always practical or possible.

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