Boxelder bugs, commonly referred to as boxelder beetles, can invade your home any time of year. However, they can be a major nuisance in the winter. These bugs, which feed on boxelder trees, maple trees, and other plants, often gather around windowsills and doorways as they search for warmth. Below, we discuss how to get rid of boxelder bugs and why winter is the perfect time to do it.
Is Winter a Good Time to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs?
Winter is a great time for getting rid of boxelder bugs since they slow down significantly and remain dormant in colder temperatures. During this time, boxelder bugs also tend to congregate in large numbers on the sides of buildings looking for warmth. It is therefore possible to kill numerous bugs at once.
The growth cycle of these insects, who typically have a lifespan of one year, presents another advantage during colder months. The eggs of boxelder bugs typically hatch in the spring, with adults maturing over the winter. If killed during this time, these adults are no longer be able to lay eggs and populate.
What Do Boxelder Bugs Look Like?
The first step in getting rid of boxelder bugs is to identify them. These beetle-like insects are easily recognizable: Their bodies are mostly black, with two angled red stripes running along the rear of their back and smaller red stripes in the front. They range from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long and have an elongated body.
While boxelder bugs aren’t dangerous, they can cause tiny puncture wounds if provoked or handled too roughly.
Where Do Boxelder Bugs Live?
Boxelder bugs are attracted to warm and moist areas and tend to live near spots where they can enter your home – for instance, windowsills, door frames, and garage entrances. They also tend to be found in gutters, attics, and basements.
Because boxelder bugs are attracted to heat, you may also find them in air vents, ducts, or electrical outlets. They can easily squeeze under loose electrical plates, so be sure to remove or replace these.
To prevent boxelder bugs from entering your home, it is a good idea to seal any cracks or crevices with caulk or weather stripping. Make sure that all screens are properly fitted and in good condition so that no bugs can enter through those openings.
It is also important to remove any potential food sources. If you have a boxelder tree on your property, it’s likely attracting boxelder bugs. Be sure to trim the tree regularly and rake up any seed pods as they fall. Keep your yard free of leaves, fallen branches, compost piles, rotting woodpiles, and any other debris where these pests might hide.
Remember, prevention is key: It’s easier to keep boxelder bugs away than to deal with a full-blown infestation.
How Do You Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs in Your Home?
Use Dish Soap
You can get rid of boxelder bugs by through a simple soap solution: Mix one tablespoon of dish soap into a spray bottle of water. When you come across clusters of boxelder beetles, spray this mixture directly onto them. This will saturate the bugs, breaking their outer shells and ideally dehydrating and killing them. While this method may not get rid of all the bugs, it will temporarily prevent the growth of the swarm. As an added benefit, the soap water will repel any other bugs hiding in or around your home.
A more effective way to get rid of boxelder bugs inside your home is to vacuum them. Simply use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to suck up any visible specimens that may be lurking around your living space. Vacuum as many as possible and empty the vacuum bag or container immediately after use so that none escape and reenter your home.
As you vacuum, be careful not to crush the bugs. Doing so can leave brown stains on your carpet or flooring. When squished, boxelder bugs can also release an unpleasant smell.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is an effective way to kill large swarms of boxelder bugs. Readily available online and in home improvement stores, DE is a talc-like powder that is deadly to boxelder bugs yet non-toxic to humans and pets.
When using DE, make sure to wear gloves, safety glasses, and a mask. Follow the directions and scatter the powder along the perimeter of your home and around the base of any trees that may serve as feeding grounds for these bugs.
If the above methods fail to fully eliminate the boxelders from your home, you may need to resort to using chemical insecticides. Choose a product with an active ingredient such as clove or cottonseed, as found in Nature-Cide® all-purpose insecticide. This all natural, all-purpose pest control spray offers a safe way to kill boxelder bugs. Follow all directions carefully and spray around baseboards, window frames, doorways, etc. It is usually necessary for several applications over an extended period to achieve maximum results.
Note that synthetic pesticides should be used as a last resort for killing boxelder beetles. Over time, these bugs have developed a resistance to many standard formulas. When using chemical sprays, be sure to keep people and pets away until the area is completely dry.
Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Fast
Boxelder bugs may be small, but they can cause big headaches if left unchecked. The above DIY methods will help you to keep these insects under control—but to ensure fast and complete removal, consult a professional exterminator like Dominion Pest Control. Our experts have many years of experience in dealing with these pesky critters and can help you get rid of boxelder bugs for good.
We serve Lancaster County (Lititz, Lancaster city, Manheim, Ephrata, Strasburg, etc), York County (Dallastown, Red Lion, York city, Hellam, etc), Lebanon, and Hershey. Here’s a map of our location and service area: