The boxelder bugs, named after the tree in which they inhabit, are some of the peskiest creatures you will encounter.

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a swarm of these bugs glued onto the west side of your house, where they tend to reside in the sun on warm days. And while they are completely harmless, a big enough infestation can prove to be an eyesore and even just a little bit unsettling. 

This guide will provide the low-down on boxelder bugs, including why they come to your house and how to get rid of them safely. 

What Are Boxelder Bugs?

Boxelder bugs, scientifically known as Boisea trivittata, are distinctive insects with a black and red coloration that often catch the eye. These bugs primarily feed on the seeds of boxelder trees, as well as other similar trees like maple and ash. 

While they don’t pose a direct threat to humans, boxelder bugs can become a nuisance when they invade homes during the fall, seeking shelter for the winter. They are attracted to the warmth of buildings and can congregate in large numbers, especially on sunny sides of structures. 

Despite their name, boxelder bugs can also be found on other types of trees, and their presence is often marked by the characteristic reddish stains they leave behind on surfaces.

The Boxelder Bug Life Cycle

These bugs undergo a life cycle that includes eggs, nymphs, and adults. During warmer months, they inhabit trees, feeding on the sap and seeds. As temperatures drop, boxelder bugs seek protected locations to overwinter. While their presence indoors can be bothersome, boxelder bugs are generally harmless to humans and don’t cause structural damage.

When Are Boxelder Bugs Most Active?

Boxelders tend to be seasonal bugs with peak activity during the spring and fall when the temperature outside rises. This is where you’ll usually spot them either on the side of your house or in nearby trees.

On some rare occasions, you may even find a few dwellings inside of a heated basement if they have easy enough access inside of your home. 

Why Do Boxelder Bugs Enter Homes?

Boxelder bugs are attracted to the heat retained by buildings, making residential spaces an inadvertent haven for them. Once inside, they may seek out concealed areas, such as wall voids, attics, or other secluded spots, where they can remain relatively undisturbed until the weather becomes more favorable. Implementing measures to seal cracks, gaps, and other potential entry points can help deter boxelder bugs from invading homes.

Tips to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Following are a few simple tips to get rid of Boxelder bugs quickly from inside and around your home.  

  • Seal Up Cracks Around Doors and Windows: Preventing entry by sealing common access points can significantly reduce home invasions. A little caulk goes a long way in keeping them out. Think about it: No more uninvited guests making themselves at home where they don’t belong.
  • Lay Down Diatomaceous Earth for Control: Use this natural powder around your home’s perimeter as a non-toxic barrier. This will also keep out other pests.
  • Spray Affected Areas with Soapy Water: A simple yet effective homemade solution can kill bugs on contact without harsh chemicals.
  • Vacuum Regularly to Remove Bugs Indoors: Quick removal with a vacuum cleaner can prevent stains and odors associated with crushed bugs.
  • Essential Oils as Natural Repellents: Certain scents are known deterrents for elder bugs seeking shelter inside homes. For example, most mainstream stink bug repellents are very effective against boxelders. 
  • Remove or Trim Boxelder Trees Near Your Home: Experts state that by removing or trimming these host trees, you can cut down on the number of winged invaders cozying up to your living space.

Professional Pest Control Solutions for Boxelder Bugs

When your home becomes a haven for boxelder bugs, and the DIY methods just don’t cut it, professional pest control might be your ticket to peace. An exterminator will be able to identify the source of boxelder entry into your home and plants that may be attracting them. Likewise, they can recommend preventative solutions or apply an organic insecticide that can remove boxelders immediately. 

FAQs: How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs

Why are boxelder bugs attracted to homes?

Boxelder bugs are attracted to the warmth that buildings provide, especially during the fall and winter seasons. They seek shelter and a cozy environment for overwintering.

What are the risks of a boxelder bug infestation?

While boxelder bugs are not harmful to humans or pets, their presence can be a nuisance. Large numbers may invade homes, leaving stains and traces. In some cases, they can cause minor structural damage.

How can I identify boxelder bugs accurately?

Boxelder bugs are characterized by their distinct black and red coloration. They have an elongated shape and are about half an inch in length. During warmer months, they may be found on trees, and in fall, they seek refuge indoors.

Are boxelder bugs harmful to humans or pets?

Boxelder bugs are generally harmless and do not pose a direct threat to humans or pets. They do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases. Their presence is more of an annoyance than a health concern.