Although boxelder bugs do not constitute a danger to crops and garden plants, they are still deemed to be a nuisance pest because of their habit to penetrate into houses to overwinter staining tissues and surfaces and causing displeasure to residents. And yet still they do inflict a damage to apples, maple and some other trees, but the harm is rather cosmetic. Their favorite host is the female boxelder tree which explains why these insects have received such a name. So if there is a boxelder tree in your neighborhood, you are likely to face these black-and-orange insects at home. In this article, we will review all scientifically proven ways to get rid of boxelder bugs. We will look at commercially available products, such as boxelder bug sprays, dusts, concentrates, with active ingredients lambda cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin and pyrethrins, so that you could more easily decide on how to kill boxelder bugs. Apart from this, we have prepared a comparison chart of boxelder bug control efficiency to help you.
Identification Of Boxelder Bugs
You may observe boxelder bugs inside the building in the cold months of the year. Being bright-colored insects, they can hardly remain unnoticed: these creatures with a length of half an inch have three orange or red stripes on a black background. Their eggs are yellow, getting reddish as they mature, normally can be found in groups of approximately ten eggs on boxelder and maple trees. Check leaves and bark as well as the grass in that area for yellow-red clusters to evaluate the boxelder bugs infestation.
These insects feed, lay eggs and develop on boxelder trees, most commonly occurring on female trees as they produce seeds. Boxelder bugs are crazy about these seeds, however, they also suck leaves. They can be frequently observed on maple as these trees provide them with seeds as well. Boxelder bugs overwinter in plant debris or protected human-inhabited places and other suitable structures. In May, they lay eggs which hatch in two weeks. First, these insects live and suck on fallen seeds in low-growing plants but then, in the heat of summer, move to their main host trees. With leaves falling, the bugs emerge on tree trunks, bare soil and sidewalks. Since October they can be observed inside the residences where they wander in through crevices which can occur along doors and windows as well as other unprotected areas of the structure.
Once in the residence, there is a likelihood that boxelder bugs will turn out an annoyance to the occupants of the house staining curtains and light-colored items of the interior. In addition, they emit a repulsive smell when disturbed and can spread filth. And yet still these orange-striped guys do not harm anyone, nor can they damage a houseplant or bite humans. With warming, boxelder bugs enter human-inhabited spaces attempting to get out. Thus, there are two time periods of their activity: in autumn, when they search for a site to overwinter, and in spring, when they search a way out of the building. In winter, the bugs do not bother residents of the house, unless a sudden abnormal warming makes them mistake it for a spring.
How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs
The better working method to get done with boxelder bugs that had proved its efficiency is a preventive one, Jeff Hahn and Mark Ascerno from the University of Minnesota Extension claim. To this end, seal with a caulk and screen all entrances which could be used by the insects to get into the house. These are cracks and crevices around doors, windows, basements, vents as well as openings for cable TV wires and utility pipes. Take care to repair damaged screens if there are any, especially in vents and fans. Apart from caulk, spray foam or copper mesh can be used in case you need to cover a much larger area. In garages, seal the openings with the rubber.
Also, if your house is built of stone or brick, inspect the walls to find out if there cracks where bricks and wood meet. Buildings made of vinyl siding are much more vulnerable to boxelder bugs as there are numerous openings and you are unable to reveal all of them and seal. In this case, the better option is applying insecticides in the places where boxelder bugs were noticed last seasons. Generally, these sites include areas around any point of an entrance into the house.
However, to obtain satisfactory results do not confine your pest control strategy to exclusion. Take the following steps aimed at the reduction of the number of sites where boxelder bugs will be able to overwinter. In particularly, remove all debris, including wood and leaves from the yard. Also, get rid of grass and weeds on the southwestern part of the yard. These measures will help to lower the number of boxelder bugs clustered in the area of the building’s basement. Indoors, vacuum and clean the infested areas.
Another solution recommended by scientists of the University of California is to hose host plants with water. Under the strong stream of water these insects will simply drown, so do not neglect such a conventional but extremely effective way to get rid of boxelder bugs. Also, try water mixes and washing agents to treat the sites of the pests’ congregation. This solution will cost you nothing, it is safe for humans and their pets and are effective.
According to scientists of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, soap is more preferable in cool weather and is not as toxic to people as other insecticides. They offer the following recipe: mix half a cup of dry soap with one gallon of water and spray the liquid directly on the bugs. Remember that soap may harm foliage of the houseplants, therefore take care to cover them.
It is worth noting, however, that all is riddled with imperfections, and the solution mentioned above is no exception. Namely, water mixes and washing agents have to be applied to insects only directly as they kill on contact, and they also can harm some plants, especially when over-applied.
Using insecticide boxelder bug sprays
Treatment of the surfaces inside and outside the building with insecticides should be considered as a last resort. According to the scientists of the University of California, insecticide sprays are not an option to get rid of boxelder bugs. Using them you will not obtain results superior to those when cleaning the infected areas with a vacuum or watering.
At the same time, chemicals have some drawbacks in comparison with other solutions: insecticides need to be reapplied several times and are not environment-friendly, under certain conditions, they can harm the health of humans and animals. In addition, the product’s effect lasts for quite a short period of time as the sunlight breaks down the material. For this reason, insecticides keep on killing pests no longer than a week after the application.
Anyway, if you have a heavy boxelder bugs infestation and had observed these pests in your house before, applying insecticides to exteriors of the building will provide some temporary relief. Gregory A. Hoover and Steve Jacobs, sr. extension associates from the Pennsylvania State University, admit of this solution in case the exclusion approach is not possible. They particularly single out dust insecticides which “may kill thousands of bugs.”
Insecticides should be applied at the end of the summer and in autumn as this is the time when boxelder bugs start to gather around the building. The chemicals in question include synthetic pyrethroids, such as lambda cyhalothrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, bifenthrin, tralomethrin and permethrin — that is the list of substances intended for the use outside the buildings. In spring, use horticultural oils which are more ecologically friendly and less toxic.
Application of insecticides inside the house is not a good idea due to several factors. First, spraying chemicals inside the house is useless in terms of preventing boxelder bugs from wandering into the building through existing openings. Nor will it help to directly treat the sites of the congregation of these pests.
Another problem arising when insecticides are used indoors relate to other insects — carpet beetles which devour dead boxelder bugs. They can be attracted in attics and other places by the presence of their dead prey, and, after that, wander around the house attacking natural products kept there. One of the crucial drawbacks which you should not remember when taking a decision on a pest control strategy is that all insecticides are poisonous and should be applied strictly according to the instruction provided by the manufacturer. In particular, keep these products in a safe place and dispose of them according to the producer’s instruction, otherwise, you may cause a risk of a contamination of the environment.
How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs Naturally
If these insects have become a really intolerable pest in the place where you live, it would be a smart move to take such drastic measures as pulling out host trees without which these pests will starve and die out. F.B. Peairs from the Colorado State University believes it to be the most permanent solution to the problem. Are you unwilling to remove all of the boxelder trees? Well, then focus on the female ones on the grounds we have mentioned above.
The scientists have described this solution as the most effective in dealing with boxelder bugs, however, such a move is not a wise decision in the context of the environment protection. Moreover, removing trees has another drawback connected with the insects’ ability to fly over a long distance migrating from other trees located in the vicinity. An alternative is to clear seeds under the trees by means of a broom or vacuum, the latter will be particularly helpful if there are a lot of grass.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth, which is a natural pest control, into the wall crevices and other sites where a large number of the pests are noticed. It is a powder from fossilized diatoms and is usually available in the dust. It works by causing dehydration of the insects’ bodies and does not contain any poison.
How To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs: Comparison Chart
|Exclusion (sealing cracks and screening openings)||scientifically proven best preventive method||labor-consuming; buildings made of vinyl siding have too many gaps; will not help to get rid of the insects already inside the house||10|
|Removing host trees||bugs will die out; recommended by scientists as a permanent solution;||does not comply with the environmental philosophy; bugs can migrate from neighboring areas; labor-consuming||10|
|Cleaning \ vacuuming the infected areas||cheap, kills on contact||labor-consuming; do not prevent bugs from getting into the house;||9|
|Hosing host plants with a stream of water||produce an immediate result; kills lots of bugs at once; environmentally friendly solution||labor-consuming; may harm leaves of the plants;||9|
|Removing overwintering sites||lower the number of bugs gathered near the building’s basement||labor-consuming; will not help to get rid of the insects already inside the house||6|
|Spraying a soap liquid||cheap, safe and effective; can be homemade; kills pests on contact||have to be applied directly to insects; also can harm some plants||8|
|Using insecticides||kill on contact; is not time-consuming; helpful in case of heavy infestations; dust insecticides are considered most effective||not recommended by scientists as effective; need to be reapplied; may not be safe for humans; short-term solution; do not prevent bugs from getting into the house; carpet beetles eat dead boxelder bugs; should be considered as a last resort.||9|
|Horticultural oils||more ecologically-friendly; less toxic; have minimal impact on beneficial insects; can be used on a year-round basis||the effect lasts for a short period of time; requires repeated applications.||9|
|Diatomaceous earth||environmentally friendly solution; does not contain poisons||it is effective only as long as the product remains dry; can cause skin irritation.||7|
TOP-8 Products To Control Boxelder Bugs
Below we will look at boxelder bug control products at prices ranging from $6 to over $50. They will help you to implement different pest control strategies which we have discussed before, including exclusion, indoor and outdoor treatment.
- Vent mesh which is solid enough to resist birds attacks and the tape which will be useful in repairing damaged window and other screens.
- Sprays based on deltamethrin and designed specifically for eliminating boxelder bugs.
- Insecticide dust with an active ingredient pyrethrin capable to penetrate into the most narrow crevices.
- The concentrate based on a lambda cyhalothrin may be needed to treat host trees of boxelder bugs and cannot be harmful to your plants. The ready-to-use spray with an active ingredient bifenthrin is intended primarily for indoor use and has a long-term effect lasting up to 12 months. Both of them are recommended by the University of Idaho Extension.
- The 100% natural boxelder bug killer - diatomaceous earth.
ADFORS Vent Mesh, 8 " x 100', Charcoal
The mesh is a good option for boxelder bug exclusion helping to effectively keep them away from attics and vents. It is available as a roll with the size of the material amounting to 8 inch x 100 foot. The product is made of a fiberglass which is solid enough to resist attacks of birds. It is not still clear whether rats can chew through it, but from the customers’ experience, scissors cut the mesh with some effort. The material can be fixed to the surface by means of staples or a heavy duty clue.
The product is popular with Amazon users, having received 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 68% of the customers giving it the highest grade of 5 stars. The customers place it upon a fan in the attic or drain in front of the garage, as well as finding some other applications too. Regarding the material reliability, their opinions vary. Some of them claim that birds are not able to breach it, others lament that mice can chew through it. However, there is a solution in this case: triple a layer of the material and those nasty mice will feel toothless. Among the quality of the material, the price is considered by most of the users as a reasonable one.
Price: ~$9.98 Check the current price
By.RHO Screen Repair Kit
The screen is available almost at the same price as the mesh that we have reviewed before, and similar approval rating on Amazon.com — 4.3 out of 5 stars, with 66% of the customers giving 5 stars to the product. This is a tape of a silver-gray color designed to repair a torn screen. As we said before, scientists recommend repairing damaged screens to prevent boxelder bugs from entering the house.
As the manufacturer states, this screen repair tape made of a fiberglass is very adhesive and resist temperatures ranging from -4℉ ~ 140℉, however, it is recommended to be stuck at temperatures exceeding 50ºF. The tape is easily applied as no tool is needed, the sticky side will do the job. All you need is to cut a patch of the appropriate size and place upon the damaged area. Using the product, you will be able to repair torn window screens, tent meshes and many other items. The tape has three layers and measures at 2 to 80 inches.
According to Amazon customers, the material allows air inside, but at the same time is sticky enough. “I live in the middle of nowhere and we get winds up to 50 miles an hour, and it stuck to my screens very well. I even double it on some areas it still has air going through it!” one of them said.
Price: ~$9.99 Check the current price
Harris Asian Lady Beetle & Box Elder Killer, Gallon Spray
This insecticide with an active ingredient deltamethrin is designed to kill boxelder bugs and ladybugs. While being highly popular with the US pest control professionals, it still can be toxic in case the instructions are not followed. The Harris spray with a volume of 3.8 liters is odorless and does not stain surfaces. It is approved by EPA and can be used both inside and outside the house.
The product has received 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with 70% of the consumers giving five stars to it. According to the instruction, the product’s residual effect lasts up to several weeks after the first application. From the consumers’ experience, two applications are enough to get rid of the pests.
“We used to have a ton of box elders on the west-facing facade of the building. I sprayed this product liberally on the walls and around the exterior of the entrance doors. I was shocked the next day when I found hundreds and hundreds of dead box elders all over the ground,” one of the happy customers wrote. Another user said that he had managed to annihilate the entire colony of boxelder bugs with the use of this product. The negative comments mostly relate to the fact that although the product kills the insects, it does not repel them. But this is what we have explained above with the reference to scientific findings: no insecticide will prevent boxelder bugs from entering your house; to that end, rather try an exclusion approach.
Price: ~$17.99 Check the current price
P F Harris Mfg Co Hbxa-32 32 Oz, Ready To Use, Asian Lady Beetle & Box Elder Bug Killer
This product is a cheaper as the previous one, however, its liquid volume is four times less and amounts to 946 ml. PF Harris with an active ingredient deltamethrin is odorless, stainless and designed specifically for destroying boxelder bug colonies as well, but it is easier applied due to its trigger spray.
PF Harris is less popular on Amazon.com and received 3.9 out of 5 stars in the customer reviews. One of the Amazon users said that a lot of boxelder bugs had lodged themselves between a window and the screen, but the spray eliminated the problem: “If you have a Box Elder bug problem, give this product a shot,” he concluded. Some, however, pointed out certain drawbacks, saying that the product was “rather harsh on the environment.” Others were not satisfied with its pumping mechanism.
Price: ~$14.31 Check the current price
1 LB Drione Pest Insecticide Dust
As we have stated before, dust products are considered by scientists to be the most effective solution among other insecticides as the powder can penetrate into narrow cracks killing insects on contact. Drione with active ingredients pyrethrins (1.0%); piper only butoxide (10.0%) and amorphous silica gel (40.0%) annihilates a number of insects, including boxelder bugs. An active ingredient is a pyrethrin which is a botanical insecticide working by attacking the insect’s nerve system and paralyzing them what eventually results in death.
The product should be applied in cracks and wall voids inside the buildings with a hand duster included in the listing. It should not be used in the areas where food is stored, nor should it be sprinkled near ventilation. Also, being very strong and toxic, the product is not safe for pets and can kill beneficial insects such as bees in case it used outdoors.
Drione has received 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with 82% of the customers giving it the maximum grade. One of the customers notes that while the product itself does the job, the puffer “is more work than its worth,” and recommends just squeezing the bottle to apply.
Price: ~$57.99 Check the current price
Spectracide 95829 Triazicide Once and Done! Insect Killer, 32-Ounce Concentrate
The concentrate is primarily intended for the outdoor use, in lawns and gardens, and targets almost 180 insects. This is one of the products recommended by the University of Idaho Extension for effective boxelder bug management. While ensuring a long-lasting protection, the product will damage neither plants nor vegetables.
Its active ingredient is a lambda cyhalothrin which is less toxic as it is insoluble in water and is not expected to contaminate water. And yet upon contact with the eyes and skin, the substance is likely to cause an irritation. One bottle makes up to 16 gallons of the diluted liquid which should be sprayed on trees and plants. This is a good solution to prevent boxelder bugs from penetrating into the house by eliminating them on their host trees.
The product has received 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com. Some of the customers claim that the stuff kills the toughest bugs, others say that they have not seen a desirable result.
Price: ~$16.23 Check the current price
Ortho 0196410 Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter, 24-Ounce
This is another insecticide recommended by the University of Idaho Extension but this time we are dealing with a ready-to-use spray. The effect of the product with an active ingredient bifenthrin lasts for a year when applied indoors on flat surfaces, and three months in case it used outdoors, according to the manufacturer. However, you should not apply it to plants, the product is designed rather for the treatment of such elements as porches and eaves.
It is said to kill over 130 species of insects, including boxelder bugs, and, apart from that, creates a bug barrier. Home Defense Max does not stain, nor has it any offensive odor. Keep pets and children away from the treated area until the liquid dries. The manufacturer advises creating a 4-inch barrier in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, as well as around windows and doors. Outside the house, the barrier should amount to 12 inches and be created around perimeters and foundations, garage entrances and walls, around doors and window trim, as well as around a patio perimeters.
The product has received 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, with 69% of the customers giving it the maximum grade. “I like how it's odorless and is safe for animals and kids once dry. I would highly recommend this for anyone who has a bug infestation because it kills nearly every insect I've heard of in North America,” one of them wrote in the comment section.
Price: ~$6.32 Check the current price
Safer Brand 51703 Diatomaceous Earth Bed Bug, Flea and Ant Crawling Insect Killer, 4 lb
The product contains 100% diatomaceous earth which is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms and is a natural pesticide. It can be used against a large variety of pests killing them on contact, with the insect dying within two days. At the same time, DE does not inflict a damage to humans and the environment. The stuff can be applied both inside and outside the house and is particularly effective for boxelder bug control as it can be sprinkled into small and narrow cracks and crevices.
Diatomaceous earth works by means of a dehydration on contact when its particles penetrate into the insect’s exoskeleton. Also, it kills an insect when ingested by absorbing its moisture. The product is strongly recommended to be stored in a dry place so that it cannot get wet. When sprinkled in the kitchen and dwelling spaces, focus on areas around furniture, windows, and doorways, as well as cracks in the floor and walls. When applied outdoors, treat areas along the entrances and windows.
The product has received 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com. The manufacturer has specified that the product has not been tested for boxelder bugs but some of the users claim that it really works on these insects. Others are annoyed by seeing a lot of a white powder at home.
Price: ~$9.47 Check the current price
Boxelder Bug Control Products: Comparative Chart
ADFORS Vent Mesh, 8 " x 100'
By.RHO Screen Repair Kit
Harris Asian Lady Beetle & Box Elder Killer, Gallon
P F Harris Mfg Co Hbxa-32 32 Oz, Ready To Use
1 LB Drione Pest Insecticide Dust
Spectracide 95829 Triazicide Once and Done! Insect Killer
|lambda cyhalothrin, concentrate|
Ortho 0196410 Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter
Safer Brand 51703
|Diatomaceous earth-based powder|