How to Treat for Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs can be such a nuisance—swarming into your home, releasing a foul odor when crushed, staining your furniture. How can you treat the pesky boxelder bug?

Keep reading to learn more about boxelder bugs, including how to identify them and how to keep them out of your home.

What are Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs are pests that belong to the same family as stink bugs and cicadas—two other pests bothering lots of Cincinnatians.

As adults, boxelder bugs are about half an inch long. They are black in color with orange or red markings: three vertical stripes behind their head plus markings on their wings. Their wings also overlap on their backs, forming an X.

Juvenile boxelder bugs (called nymphs) are completely bright red in color and much smaller, about a sixteenth of an inch long.

As their name suggests, this bug lays its eggs in box elder tree bark. They emerge in spring, eventually growing to their full size in the fall. (You might see them emerge in record numbers: they are most abundant in hot, dry summers following warm springs, which we’ve had the past few years.) The fall is the period of the year when these bugs seek a warm, dry environment and protection from the elements. They “overwinter,” or become inactive, during the winter.

Boxelder bugs are often a nuisance during the fall—when they first come inside your home—and in the early spring—when they leave their overwintering state and emerge from their hiding places inside your home.

How to Treat Boxelder Bugs

If you find yourself battling boxelder bugs year after year, we have some helpful tips for you.

You might consider removing any box elder trees from your yard. Since this type of tree is the main source of food and the egg-laying site for boxelder bugs, removing these trees may eliminate the problem.

Of course, if a close neighbor also has boxelder trees, this solution might not work. Boxelder bugs can fly a few blocks, so they might still travel to your home. In that case, consider taking the following steps:

  • Get rid of seeds: Sweep or vacuum away box elder tree seeds (a primary source of food for boxelder bugs) from beneath and near the trees.
  • Eliminate points of entry: Repair torn screens, replace torn or missing weatherstripping, and add caulk around cracks surrounding windows and doors. Also add fine-mesh screens, steel wool, or expandable foam in vents. Essentially, close up any areas big enough to let the bugs in.
  • Vacuum up bugs: Boxelder bugs that make their way inside can be vacuumed up. Don’t crush them—they release a foul stench if crushed.
  • Remove boxelder hiding places: Remove piles of leaves, rocks, logs, and other debris. Also remove weeds around the foundation. This will get rid of the places that boxelder bugs hide during the day and over winter.

Need Help with Pest Control?

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our websiteFacebook, or Twitter.