Boxelder bugs are found in gardens and homes of people with boxelder or maple trees, but these nasty bugs can also inhabit places where there are fruits such as apples or plums they can feed on.
While these bugs are not particularly dangerous or harmful, they can emit a very unpleasant smell, and their droppings and infestation inside can be a real nuisance, especially if they enter your home.
These infestations inside buildings occur during the cold seasons when the bugs gather in large congregations and look for suitable places to spend the winter.
They can easily enter through small crevices and cracks and will remain indoors insulated to overwinter until late March and early April.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to control and get rid of boxelder bugs outdoors and inside.
Read on to find out all you need to know about getting rid of boxelder bugs.
Outdoor removal of boxelder bugs
If you have boxelder trees in your garden, then you are most likely familiar with these unpleasant and smelly bugs. They lay their eggs there and feed on the seeds of the tree.
While they do not do damage to the garden, they come in large swarms and can be unpleasant to look at and smell. Plus, chances are that if you have them outdoors, they will find a way to enter your home or premises when the winter comes. This can lead to them leaving nasty stains and a bad smell.
So, here are some easy ways to get rid of the boxelder bugs from your outdoor space:
Blast them away with water
Use a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle, and blast away the bugs from the tree, ground, or other plants. This will not kill them but can help prevent them from forming a large swarm. This method is entirely eco-friendly and will help you manage small outdoor boxelder bug infestations and prevent larger ones.
Use diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is an organic powder rich in silica, which is made of fossilized algae and can kill insects that have exoskeletons, including boxelder bugs.
The food-grade diatomaceous earth is an effective insecticide that is safe for humans and pets, so make sure that you pick this type to ensure that you, your family, and animals are all safe.
When scattering the diatomaceous earth, make sure that you are wearing the proper protection such as safety goggles, a dust mask, and gloves.
Read the instructions of the manufacturer, and scatter the powder in the base of the tree, which is affected by the bugs. Despite their name, the boxelder bugs can infest trees other than the female boxelder. These include maple, ash, and fruit trees such as apple and plum. For better results, you can use a feed scoop or hand duster to apply the diatomaceous earth properly on the tree base.
You may want to sprinkle some of it on the side of your home, especially on window sills and under doors, where the bugs can enter your house.
The powder destroys the bugs by penetrating their exoskeletons and dehydrating them in a matter of hours. In case there is rain, repeat the treatment until the bug infestation is resolved.
Use residual insecticide
To prevent the boxelder bugs from entering your home or other premises in the fall and winter seasons, you may want to apply some residual insecticide in any crevices, crack, windows, sidings, vents, eaves, doors, and other potential entry points for the bugs.
Use a pyrethrin-based insecticide, and remember to wear protective gloves, glasses, and a mask when spraying the insecticide.
Also, keep all people and pets away from the treated areas, and make sure that you don’t spray any of your plants and grass.
Once the bugs are killed, you can vacuum them away.
After the treatment, try to seal up any crevices or cracks with caulk and seal your windows and doors to prevent the boxelder bugs from migrating inside your home for overwintering.
Remove any female boxelder trees
If the problem with boxelder bugs is getting out of control or is really bothering you, you may want to think about replacing any female (seed-bearing) boxelder trees from your outdoor space.
You can plant male trees or simply choose other types of trees which do not attract these specific bugs.
Although this will resolve the bug problem, keeping a mature tree in your backyard may have way more advantages that will outweigh the problem with the insects. So, we recommend that you use this method only as a drastic measure.
Indoor removal of boxelder bugs
The most important tip for the removal of boxelder bugs from indoors is not to attempt to kill them when they are hidden in hard-to-reach cracks and voids, or their decaying bodies can attract even nastier insects such as carpet or larder beetles.
Here are several efficient methods for indoor boxelder bug removal:
Use a powerful vacuum
Use a vacuum cleaner to suck away all of the bugs you can see and reach, and don’t forget to try to vacuum even in the tightest crevices and cracks and windowsills.
After removing them, dispose of the vacuumed bugs ASAP to avoid attracting even more unpleasant and destructive pests such as dermestid beetles.
Try not to squash the bugs when vacuuming and removing them because they are very likely to leave nasty stains on your walls, carpets, and furniture.
If you get rid of the bugs and seal any potential entry points, you don’t have to worry about future infestations, as the boxelder bugs do not reproduce indoors.
Place suitable insect traps with light or glue to attract any boxelder bugs which may be hiding inside but out of sight. Check the traps regularly and dispose of them and replace them in a timely manner to prevent the nasty smell of decomposing insects.
Make a homemade boxelder bug removal solution
If you don’t want to use chemical-based and expensive insecticides from the store, you can mix your own homemade insecticide, which is safe to use, cheap to make, and will take care of your bug problem.
The mixture consists of a couple of spoons of dish soap diluted in water and mixed in a spray bottle. Once the soap has dissolved, shake the mixture and apply to the soapy solution directly on the bugs. This will kill them almost instantly.