Boxelder Bugs

boxelder bugs

Boxelder bugs are common pests over much of the United States. Adults are about 1/2 inch long.

They are bright red or black with narrow reddish lines on the back.

Box elder bugs feed principally by sucking juices from the box elder tree, but are sometimes found on other plants.

They do very little damage to the trees they attack, but at certain times of the year they can become a nuisance. Box elder bugs develop by gradual metamorphosis, from egg, to nymph, then to adult.

When box elder bugs build up to large populations and invade a home they are usually pests only by their presence, although their piercing-sucking mouthparts can sometimes puncture skin, causing slight irritation.

Adult box elder bugs will enter structures into the fall, seeking winter shelter.

They seek shelter in protected places such as houses and other buildings, cracks or crevices in walls, doors, under windows and around foundations, particularly on south and west exposures.

Box elder bugs can come out even during the dead of winter when it is cold outside and the sun is shining.

They will then emerge in the spring to seek out host trees on which to feed and lay eggs.

How to get rid of boxelder bugs

  • Prevention is key to getting rid of boxelder bugs. Spray the exterior walls of your home in the fall with a residual insecticide to stop them from over-wintering.
  • The easiest way to remove boxelder bugs, once they are indoors, is with a vacuum cleaner.
  • You can also use an insecticide spray around the baseboards and window seals on the interior of the home to further control the bugs. Interior spray should be the last line of defense however, because it won't stop the bugs from coming into the home. The boxelder bug will eventually die after it comes into contact with the insecticide.

Recommended residual insecticides

To help prevent box elder bugs, cluster flies, lady bugs and similar pests from entering in the fall, spray fast-acting synthetic pyrethroids such as the ones listed below on the exterior walls of the structure:

Save 10% on D-Fense SC and Cyper WSP
(now through 03/31/17)
Enter: spring17 at the shopping cart

d fense scD-Fense SC
1 pt of D-Fense SC yields 11-22 gallons of finished product

cyper wspCyper WSP

D-Fense will dry without a visible residue, while Cyper WSP can be seen against darker surfaces. Both products will last 2-3 months on the surface once sprayed.

Spray around eaves, attic vents, windows, doors, under-fascia lips, soffits, siding(including under lips) and any other possible points of entry, concentrating on the south and the southwest sides .
Shady areas are less likely to attract box elder bugs.

Mechanical means of exclusion

Sealing box elder bugs out by caulking cracks and around utility service openings, fixing broken window screens and door jams, plugging cracks in the foundation or roof as well as similar exclusion-type activities will help prevent the box elder bugs from entering in the first place.