How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Outside

Опубликовал Admin
14-06-2021, 17:30
Boxelder bugs, which are often drawn to boxelder and maple trees, are known for congregating in large groups. Luckily, they won’t do much damage to your home or your plants, but they can still be a nuisance due to their sheer numbers. In addition, boxelder bugs produce a strong, unpleasant odor, particularly when they gather in large numbers or if they’re crushed. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get rid of the bugs and discourage them from coming back.

Killing the Bugs

  1. Wear appropriate safety gear before working with insecticides. You can never be too safe when you’re working with insecticides or other chemicals. Wear heavy-duty gloves, protective goggles, a dust mask, and long sleeves and pants. That way, you’ll avoid eye, skin, or respiratory inhalation due to the chemicals.
    • When you choose a product, read the label closely for specific safety instructions.
    • Even if a product isn’t harmful to humans, like diatomaceous earth, it’s best to protect yourself. The powder can irritate your lungs if you breathe in a large amount of it, and it can also be very drying to your eyes.
  2. Use food-grade diatomaceous earth to treat large swarms of boxelder bugs. Before you use dangerous pesticides, opt for a safer treatment. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, use a hand duster or a large scoop to sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of your boxelder or maple trees. Then, scatter more powder around the perimeter of your home, being especially generous around doorways and windows.
    • You’ll need to reapply this treatment after it rains or if the bugs come back.
    • Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic to humans and pets, but it is lethal to boxelder bugs. That’s because the fine silica-based powder affects insects’ exoskeletons, leading to their death.
    • You can use Borax instead of diatomaceous earth, if you’d like. This boron-based compound is also safe to use around the home.
  3. Spray the outside of your home with insecticide if the bugs are swarming. Boxelder bugs release a chemical that attracts other boxelder bugs, which can sometimes lead to large swarms. This is especially common in the fall, when the bugs are trying to find somewhere warm to spend the winter. If a swarm occurs, use insecticide to kill the bugs. Follow the specific application instructions for the product you’re using, observe all listed safety precautions, and spray the entire wall where the boxelder bugs are congregating.
    • You can also use the insecticide to create a perimeter around your home, preventing the boxelder bugs from getting inside.
    • Look for a commercial preparation that lists boxelder bugs on the label. Common chemicals for residential pesticide use include bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and deltamethrin.
    • Keep children and pets away from areas treated with an insecticide.
  4. Vacuum up big clumps of bugs. If you have a shop vac or a vacuum with an attachment hose, you can bust big groups of boxelder bugs by simply sucking them up. Then, either take the bag out of the vacuum or empty the canister into a garbage bag, and seal the bag tightly shut before you throw it away. This will keep the bugs from escaping.
    • This is also an effective way to remove boxelder bugs that get inside your home.
  5. Call a professional if the bugs still aren’t gone. If you’ve tried diatomaceous earth, borax, or commercial insecticides and the boxelder bugs haven’t left, you may need to call a professional exterminator. The exterminator will come out and assess the situation, and typically they will then give you an estimate for how much they think it will cost to fix the problem. In most cases, the consultations will be free, but be sure to check first.
    • If you’ve never used an exterminator before, ask your friends and family to recommend someone to you, or research local exterminators online to find one with mostly positive reviews.

Discouraging Large Swarms

  1. Rake up fallen boxelder seeds as soon as they drop. Boxelder bugs feed on the sap from female boxelder trees, which they primarily obtain from their seedpods. When you notice the seedpods starting to drop in the fall, rake them up and dispose of them as often as possible. This will help remove the bugs’ food source, which will discourage them from congregating in your yard.
    • Boxelder bugs also feed on other types of maple trees, though not as commonly. If the boxelder bugs seem to be attracted to another tree, rake the leaves and seeds from that tree as soon as they fall, as well.
  2. Use a strong stream of water to disperse small groups of bugs. Since boxelder bugs attract others, you can help prevent large swarms by keeping smaller groups from forming. If you see several boxelder bugs together, spray them with a hose set to the strongest stream possible.
    • This won’t kill the bugs or cause them to leave your property, but if you’re able to catch them when they’re just starting to gather, they won’t be able to release their scent to call others to that spot.
  3. Soak the bugs with soapy water to kill them quickly. Spraying the bugs with plain water won't kill them, but using soapy water will. Mix about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of dish soap into a spray bottle full of water. When you see boxelder bugs on the side of your house, near your windowsill, or anywhere else they might gather, just grab your spray bottle and saturate the bugs. This is less harmful than using chemicals to treat the bugs, while still being very effective.
  4. Replace female boxelder trees if you want to permanently get rid of the bugs. If nothing else you’ve tried has made much of a difference and the boxelder bugs are really bothering you, you might consider removing the female trees. Hire a professional tree removal service to safely cut down the female boxelder tree, then plant another tree in its place.
    • Male boxelder trees don’t produce seedpods, so you don’t need to cut these down.
    • This is an extreme solution to getting rid of a bug that generally doesn’t cause too much trouble. In most cases, it’s simpler to keep your tree and just accept the bugs.


  • The best time to use insecticides to treat boxelder bugs is in the fall. This is when they tend to cluster in large numbers to "find a warm place to hide for the winter".

Things You’ll Need

  • Safety gear (eye protection, long sleeves and pants, dust mask, and gloves)
  • Diatomaceous earth (optional)
  • Scoop (optional)
  • Borax (optional)
  • Chemical insecticide (optional)
  • Soapy water and spray bottle (optional)
  • Rake
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