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How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

By February 5, 2024No Comments
How to get rid of boxelder bugs

Finding boxelder bugs creeping around your home can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Those little black and red insects seem to invade in swarms, clustering on walls and windowsills no matter how much you clean. Getting rid of boxelder bugs takes persistence and the right techniques, but you can reclaim your space from these seasonal home invaders.

This guide will provide actionable tips to help you identify and evict boxelder bugs, as well as know when professional pest control is needed. So, settle in and get ready to arm yourself with the knowledge to spot and stop these insects before they become a nuisance again next year.

What Exactly Are Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs are a common nuisance pest that gets their name from the boxelder tree, which is a favorite nesting spot for these insects. About a half-inch long, they have distinctive red and black coloring with a slim, oval-shaped body.

True to their name, boxelder bugs are especially attracted to boxelder trees because they produce the seeds and sap that these bugs feed on. However, they will also infest other trees, plants, and structures to survive. These opportunistic bugs come out in droves during spring and fall to mate and lay eggs.

In the fall, they start seeking out protected, warm spots to safely overwinter until spring. This is when they become problematic for homeowners, as they often find their way inside cracks, crevices, and other openings in search of shelter. Once inside, they tend to congregate on vertical surfaces near windows, doors, and walls when the sunshine warms these areas.

While boxelder bugs don’t pose dangers like biting or spreading diseases, they can still be a major nuisance. The sight of hundreds of these insects crawling around your home is enough to make your skin crawl! Plus, when crushed or disturbed, they release a foul scent. The key is to control them proactively by implementing preventative measures before they start swarming your house.

Visual of boxelder bugs on the exterior of house

Identifying a Boxelder Bug Infestation

Detecting an infestation early is key to getting an effective head start on eradicating boxelder bugs. Some clear signs point to the presence of these seasonal pests. Firstly, seeing more than a couple of boxelder bugs crawling on the exterior walls of your home is often the first red flag. Check window and door frames thoroughly for congregations of these pests soaking up the sun. Scan vertical surfaces near any outdoor lighting fixtures as well.

You may also spot boxelder bugs creeping into cracks, crevices, utility pipes, vents, and other potential entry points. Pay close attention to areas where siding, roofing, cables, or masonry meet. Plugging these access points quickly is important for preventing bugs from getting a foothold inside.

Indoors, keep an eye out for bugs clustering on south and west-facing windows, in window sills and frames, or above doors. They tend to seek out sunny spots to warm themselves, so monitor these prime living spaces carefully. Boxelder bugs also don’t mind nesting behind paintings, in stacks of boxes or firewood, and around wiring and utilities where they find warmth.

Finally, crushed bugs, dark streaks, or red-brown staining on walls are telltale signs you’ve had an infiltration. You may even notice a foul, musky odor from boxelder secretions. Trust your senses – if something seems amiss, inspect carefully and take action at the first signs of an infestation.

Steps to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Getting control of a boxelder bug problem requires diligence, patience, and repeat applications of a few key treatment methods. Follow these steps to systematically clear your home of these pests for both immediate and long-term relief:

1) Vacuum up any bugs you see – Use a hose attachment to carefully vacuum up congregations of boxelder bugs on walls, window frames, ceilings, and other surfaces. Empty the vacuum contents into a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it promptly outside.

2) Seal entry points – Caulk, seal, and weatherstrip any cracks, gaps, or openings that may allow boxelder bugs to sneak their way inside. Pay special attention to window and door frames, utility line openings, roof and siding joints, and exterior light fixtures.

3) Apply diatomaceous earth – This natural mineral compound absorbs the protective outer layer of insects, leading to dehydration. Lightly coat affected areas with food-grade diatomaceous earth for safe and effective boxelder bug control. Reapply after sweeping away dead bugs.

4) Make an insecticidal soap spray – Mix 1-2 tsp insecticidal or castile soap with water in a spray bottle. Spritz directly on bugs or along baseboards, window sills, and door frames to kill on contact. Reapply weekly.

5) Limit food sources – Trim or remove boxelder trees, rake up fallen seeds, and clear stacks of firewood away from your home’s exterior. This deprives bugs of sustenance and nesting spots.

6) Maintain vigilance – Keep observing your home closely for signs of reinfestation, especially during spring and fall months when boxelder bugs are most active. Act quickly if populations start to swell again.

With repeated, thorough applications of these elimination and prevention steps, you can clear boxelder bugs from your home and keep them away for good.

Get rid of boxelder bugs by sealing all entry points and double-checking that weatherstripping is still in good condition.

When to Call a Professional

These solo efforts can go a long way in managing boxelder bugs, but severe or recurring infestations require professional pest control. If you are overwhelmed by the scale of an infestation or find bugs returning each season despite your best efforts, it may be time to bring in an expert.

Pest management professionals have the tools and training to locate nests and entry points that may evade the vigilant homeowner. They can apply professional-grade insecticides, growth regulators, and baits for maximum effectiveness. Professionals also know when to time treatments strategically to disrupt breeding and dormancy cycles.

For serious interior infestations, heat treatments or fumigation may be recommended. This involves heating the home’s interior to kill all stages of boxelder bugs. Though intensive, it can eliminate an embedded bug problem in one sweep.

When you combine independent maintenance and strategic professional treatments, you can finally rid your home of destructive and annoying boxelder bugs for the long haul.

Other Recommended Maintenance and Prevention

Prevention is key to keeping boxelder bugs at bay for the long term. Make boxelder bug control and exclusion part of your regular home maintenance routine.

One of the best ways to deter these pests is by removing food sources and nesting sites. Boxelder trees provide a particularly nutritious diet, so consider removing any on your property. Prune other trees and shrubs to eliminate seed-bearing branches. Rake up fallen seeds and keep your yard free of debris piles that attract the bugs. Stack firewood and lumber well away from your home’s exterior walls.

Proper home care and maintenance will also help exclude boxelder bugs. Caulk and seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors, pipes, vents, and utilities. Check weather strips and replace them if it’s necessary. Make sure window screens are in good repair. Boxelder bugs can squeeze through remarkably small openings, so vigilance is required.

Inspect your home interior and exterior at least twice a year, especially during spring and fall. Look for potential entry points and early signs of bugs congregating. Take action at the first sight of boxelder bugs before an infestation gets out of hand. Continue monitoring and maintaining your property weekly to stay on top of any infiltration issues.

The Takeaway

In essence, getting rid of boxelder bugs from your home year after year can make you feel powerless, but you are far from it. Armed with the knowledge of boxelder pest identification, behavior, entry points, and vulnerabilities, you can take action.

Apply integrated prevention methods like sealing up access, removing food sources, maintaining vigilance, and quickly eliminating early invaders. Strategically employ preventative measures, and consult professional treatments as needed. To get your preventative pest maintenance scheduled ASAP or for a closer look at an existing problem, reach out to All South Pest Control in Atlanta, GA, and surrounding areas today.

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