You may have never heard of this bug until now, or it may be very familiar to you, but this nuisance pest is still one that you will not want to deal with on your property. Luckily for you, there are multiple repellents that can be used to manage this pest and keep them away from your personal space. You might be wondering what these solutions are, and that is where we come in!
Boxelder bugs are a nuisance from the fall until early spring, which means that they overwinter in homes during these seasons. The best way to repel boxelder bugs is to use a contact insecticide barrier, keep your property clean, seal entry points, and remove boxelder maple trees from your yard.
Before we go any further into discussing the ins and outs of the boxelder bug-repelling world, you should probably know first why it is so important to repel these pests from your premises in the first place. Let’s continue, shall we?
Why Are Boxelder Bugs Bad?
Boxelder bugs are a nuisance pest, which really means that they aren’t all that damaging to an environment. They are, however, super annoying, and we want to make sure you go away from this with all of the information necessary on what you can expect from them and how exactly to react to or prevent an invasion of these little critters.
Now, keep in mind that boxelder bugs aren’t actually nearly as damaging as, say, a termite. They aren’t as bad as a lot of other insects, but that doesn’t mean that you want them in your home, messing up your stuff, crawling in circles around your daily life.
Here are some of the common issues that you’ll find if there are boxelder bugs on your property:
Boxelder Bugs Cause Fruit Damage In Commercial Orchards
During late summer, typically, is when boxelder bugs are known to cause the most damage to fruit trees. Herbivorous creatures that they are, these pests love to sink their teeth into fruit and leaves.
Sometimes the punctures from their feedings result in fruit being deformed. This is only really a big problem if there are a great number of boxelder bugs in your area. That will only occur when there is a female box elder tree that happens to be too close for comfort.
The box elder tree is a maple that is native to North America and can, unfortunately, really draw these insects in.
This might be tolerable, sure, but will it get on your nerves, especially if you own a commercial orchard that has fallen upon the unfortunate dilemma of being too close to this variety of maple trees? Most likely.
Imagine that you are in your backyard at the fruit tree that you are so proud to have cultivated, and you realize that much of the fruit looks damaged or slightly ‘off’ in some way. This is not going to make you very happy, and you are going to want a solution. That’s just dealing with them outdoors; we haven’t even gotten into the inside part of this.
Boxelder Bugs Can Stain Surfaces
Whether accidentally or intentionally, boxelder bugs are well-known for staining clothing, furnishings, curtains, and other linens with their droppings.
Boxelder bugs may not be dangerous or even cause all that much damage, but we certainly don’t like the idea of little dung stains on all of the different fabrics located within our homes.
The point of this is to say that danger and annoyance are often close cousins when it comes to insects like this. Danger might not really exist when it comes to these pests, but annoyance is still just as much of a driving force in wanting to get rid of them. Damage to your belongings won’t kill you, but it will be a huge pain in the you-know-what.
Boxelder Bugs Smell Bad
Okay, so it isn’t that these bugs smell bad all of the time. Really, it’s just that they give off a particularly pungent odor when crushed.
Say, for example, that you hadn’t found this article and saw a boxelder bug in your home or place of work. You might just smash the first one you saw crawling along your floorboards or perhaps your desk. Thanks to the information we are going to provide you below; however, you will know that repellent sprays are really the only practical way to remove these insects once they are already inside.
Save yourself the trouble and the smell that will certainly be an unwelcome surprise the first time you crush one of these bugs.
We want to remind you that you can always find a professional exterminator near you if you have any questions or concerns that you feel need to be addressed while handling your boxelder bug situation.
Control Boxelder Bugs Using These 4 Repellents
Alright, onto what you are really here for.
Here are four different repellents that you can use to deter boxelder bugs that are in your space. Of course, these methods aren’t 100% guaranteed in every situation, but they are some of the best options we’ve got! Regardless, the only sort of real control, once they are indoors, is removal, so we are going to help you get to that step.
For best results, check in with a local exterminator if you have any concerns while using these products!
IMPORTANT: For all of these sprays, make SURE to follow the manufacturer’s directions on the back of the product and to wear proper safety equipment when applying the product. Seriously, follow the product directions! It’s worth it.
HARRIS Lady Beetle & Boxelder Bug Repellent
This first repellent is one that can be used both indoors and outdoors.
An odorless and non-staining repellent, HARRIS Asian Lady Beetle, Japanese Beetle, and Box Elder Killer is one of the leaders in at-home pest control. Additionally, the HARRIS brand is highly regarded online, to boot.
Since preventative measures are not actually the best in the case of these bugs, this is a surefire method that you can use to quickly and efficiently control the situation.
This spray claims to be registered with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for residential use. In fact, you can view their EPA label registration (as well as a host of their other product lineups) that was accepted by the EPA under Reg. No. 3-11 here.
BUGGSLAYER Insecticide Concentrate
Are you looking for an affordable option that will cover a ton of space?
Try this BUGGSLAYER concentrate that makes 4-10 gallons, depending on how you use it. BUGGSLAYER Insecticide Concentrate contains a base of deltamethrin, which is part of the pyrethroid family of chemicals. Essentially, the product aims to provide a barrier around your property and will eliminate bugs that come in contact with the barrier.
The main insects that BUGGSLAYER eliminates? Boxelder bugs, stink bugs, and lady Asian beetles. However, it also eliminates over 50 other insects, according to the manufacturer.
We all know that using products to cover small spaces can be effective and quick, but this concentrated version allows you to have a product that will last and be easy to distribute over all your space.
Keep in mind that this product, being stronger, is meant for outdoor use only and is not something you want to start spreading around the house. It will not wash away and is meant to last for several weeks, something that is great in an outdoor insecticide but not so much when accidentally used indoors.
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer
This product meant for both indoor and perimeter use is a good one that comes with some great reviews that will boost your confidence.
Meant for all kinds of bugs, not just boxelder bugs, this repellent is odorless and will not stain your space (unlike the excrement from boxelder bugs… yikes.)
Try the Insect Killer by Ortho for up to 12 months of protection against these pests and others!
Complete with a comfort wand that continuously sprays for you while covering a large space, this is a product that you need to try.
The main ingredient in this product, bifenthrin, has been registered with the EPA since 1985. You can read more about bifenthrin from the National Pesticide Information Center here.
Ortho Home Defense for Cracks and Crevices
Keep forgetting to patch up those cracks on the side of the house? Seeing a few bugs in the corner? This aerosol spray is functional, convenient, and gets the problem SOLVED.
A similar product by the same brand, this boxelder bug repellent is best used in those small spaces you might not otherwise have access to.
Use Ortho Cracks & Crevices product for any small spaces that you may need to repel boxelder bugs from.
An aerosol spray foam that is quite safe for indoor use and a less industrial-sized product, this might be just what you need for a relatively small yet annoying infestation.
This product uses deltamethrin, a contact insecticide that is comparable to bifenthrin and is commonly used for bed bugs and mosquitos in an effective manner.
REMEMBER: For all boxelder sprays and repellents, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on using the product and use proper protective equipment.
Long Term Solution: Keep Boxelder Bugs Away Using Habit Modification
Those powerful sprays work great against boxelder bugs, but what if you could prevent them from coming around altogether? At the very least, use some of these methods to try to repel them.
What is better than doing all you can to keep issues from happening? Knowing that your solutions will work. We want to be upfront and let you know that the most effective way of repelling boxelder bugs is to eliminate the cause for their attraction in the first place.
AKA – habitat modification.
These habitat modification techniques are going to save you from a lot of hassle that might come from other insects and furry troublemakers in the future!
Here are some practical ways on how to stop boxelder (and other) bugs from invading your home.
Get Rid of Box Elder Maple Trees
This is the only form of habitat modification that is a surefire way to keep boxelder bugs away from your space. Remove the female boxelder tree, and you will lose the boxelder bugs that flock to it.
If this is not an issue for you at this moment, simply make sure that you do not allow boxelder trees to be planted on your property in the future. Discourage them from being planted in neighborhood parks or public areas near your house. A bit of contesting is worth the potential pain that these bugs could turn out to be.
If you are not able to remove these trees and cannot contest their placement, be sure that the seeds are cleared as they fall so that more do not crop up.
Remember: Boxelder bugs can fly multiple miles from their source of food and may end up in your space even if this type of maple is not on your property.
Therefore, you should just be aware of whether or not a box elder maple tree is in your area.
Keep Your Property Clean to Deter Boxelder Bugs
The fewer piles of leaves, rocks, or even debris (you may be renovating your home… we don’t know), the better. If you want to keep these creatures out, to begin with, don’t give them cozy places to gather after sucking the juices out of some fruit and leaves.
If you don’t remove these things, boxelder bugs will hide there during the day. If they like the space enough, they will overwinter there, and you will have quite the problem on your hands.
Seal Up Entry Points to Prevent Boxelder Bugs From Entering
Apart from any cracks and crevices that boxelder bugs may try to make a home in, these sorts of openings can also be used as points of entry. Screen windows and doors that have even the smallest of tears are also a prime opportunity for these tiny critters to invade your space.
Get rid of those sneaky little entry points once and for all. Do a deep assessment of any places around your property and your home that might lend themselves to a boxelder bug invasion.
This method may not save your fruit, but it will give you some peace of mind. You’ll sleep better knowing that these little pests are much less likely to gain access to your fortress in the dark of night.
We recommend doing this because, for starters, boxelder bugs can fly a couple of miles from their food source. This means that you won’t necessarily expect to see them if you don’t have their host maple tree in your direct vicinity. This is a valid assumption, but it is wrong. Boxelder bugs don’t discriminate when it comes to getting in your way.
Another benefit of patching up those cracks, holes, tears, and any other entry point? This does a lot to prevent a lot of things. Other insects, rodents, and pests won’t be nearly as able to get in, either!
That’s All We’ve Got!
Well, that’s all for now.
Remember that boxelder bugs are only a nuisance pest and, if they do end up in your space, there are multiple methods of repellent that you can use from crevices to entire properties.
It might be frustrating to have these little pests in your vicinity, but keep these four boxelder bug repellents in mind:
- HARRIS Lady Beetle & Boxelder Bug Repellent
- BUGGSLAYER Insecticide Concentrate
- Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer
- Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer
Again, to make the most of your time and resources, don’t forget to always maintain cleanliness in and around your home.
Thank you for taking the time to read!
I hope this article helps you in keeping these nuisances away.
E. J. Perry, UC Cooperative Extension emeritus, Stanislaus Co.; K. Windbiel-Rojas, UC Statewide IPM Program. Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program
Hougard, J. M., Duchon, S., Zaim, M., & Guillet, P. (2002). Bifenthrin: a useful pyrethroid insecticide for treatment of mosquito nets. Journal of medical entomology, 39(3), 526-533.
Jeffrey Hahn, Extension entomologist and Mark Ascerno, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. Produced by University of Minnesota Extension.
Tinker, M. E. (1952). The seasonal behavior and ecology of the boxelder bug Leptocoris trivittatus in Minnesota. Ecology, 33(3), 407-414.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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