How to get rid of boxelder bugs? Have the boxelder bugs taken over all the cozy spots in your home? As the temperatures go down, you may notice these black and orange insects making their way into your home. They are not harmful but if you find many of them in your home, here is how you can get freed of them naturally.
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Boxelder bugs get their names because they are most often found around boxelder trees. They are native to the western states but commonly found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, where many boxelder trees are found.
These bugs are black and have red/orange design on the backs. Adult boxelder bugs have a somewhat flattened and elongated body shape and are about half an inch long. These bugs make their homes in boxelder trees especially during the spring and summer and feed off the seeds, leaves, and flowers.
The trees are also known as ash-leaved maples. People consider them similar to the weed because they grow so fast without any nurturing. A mature boxelder tree may grow as tall as 60 feet. The female trees attract these bugs more as they bear fruits. The boxelder bugs mostly nourish on these fruits. You can try removing any boxelder trees that you may have in your garden to see less of these bugs.
Why do they come inside a house?
Boxelder trees are quite common and grow rapidly without any help from humans. The bugs are happy to spend their time on the trees until the temperature drops. Like several other bugs, the boxelder bugs also hibernate in the cold months. They look for places where they can safely spend the cold months. Walls with voids, attics, and other man-made structures with tiny spaces are ideal for these bugs.
They enter the homes, but most homeowners will start noticing them once they leave their spots as the winter ends.
How can you prevent boxelder bugs from invading your home?
You can try several things to prevent a home invasion by the boxelder bugs. You should avoid killing them inside the wall holes because the bodies of the dead insects will attract other insects and pests. Boxelder bugs do not bite but may pierce the skin like mosquitoes. They don’t have any venom and are quite harmless.
Most experts agree that it is best to wait until summer, when most adult boxelder bugs are out of their spots. A pest control professional could be arranged to take care of the problem. However, if you are interested in more natural ways of getting rid of these bugs, either for the environment’s health or your own, then here are some things you can try.
Prevention is a serious business
Getting rid of the boxelder bugs is fine, but preventing them from entering your home is even better.
- Cover all openings, cracks, and clefts as far as possible. Check all the window screens and repair where needed.
- Door sweeps are very effective at keeping all types of bugs out of the home.
- If you cannot remove the trees, then make sure that you clean the collapsed boxelder tree pods and fruits every day.
- Boxelder bugs mostly like cracks and crevices but may also find other safe spots. Remove the clutter in and around your home to stop them from becoming potential infestation spots.
- Remove any boxelder trees from the garden or back yard, especially female ones. Do this only as a last resort.
Check all the doors and windows and weatherproof them. Boxelder bugs are quite small; even small holes and cracks are enough for them.
Where do the boxelder bugs go at night?
If they are already inside your home, they are crammed in some crack comfortably at night. If the bugs are outside, they just like to shelter and rest at night. They need to conserve their energy for the next day. Boxelder bugs have a flat body and can squeeze into small hollows on branches, under rocks, inside walls, under insulation, etc.
Once they find a good place in the winters, they don’t like to move much. They can stay in one place for weeks or even months. If they see any light at night, they are attracted to it. This is why sometimes, they may try coming inside the home even at night, seeing the lights through your home’s windows.
Tips To Get Rid Of Boxelder Bugs Naturally
Boxelder bugs may be very annoying, but they are mostly harmless. Once they are inside the walls, removing them is difficult.
Your first instinct may be to squash the bugs when you see them inside the house, but you must not. They may leave stains on the walls or carpets when you squish them. Boxelder bugs also release an unpleasant odor, when disturbed or squashed. This is a defense mechanism against predators, but it can become unpleasant in your house with this smell. Vacuuming the boxelder bugs is the best option. Take care to empty the vacuum bag into a sealable bag and quickly dispose of the bag.
Another natural way of getting rid of boxelder bugs is to use vinegar. Like many other bugs, boxelder bugs also don’t like the smell of vinegar. You can fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the vinegar around areas where the bugs usually are seen. Windowsills and entryways need special attention. It is better to use white vinegar because it will not leave any stains.
3. Soap spray
A simple solution of soap and water can kill boxelder bugs. You can use any liquid dishwashing soap. Take a tablespoon of the soap, mix it with water, and fill a spray bottle. Spray this mix directly on the insects. The soap helps break down the boxelder bugs’ outer shells, which cause them to dehydrate and die.
4. Setting a trap
You can set a trap for the bugs that prefer to hide in the basement or attic. Place a small insect trap in such out-of-the-way areas. Glue and light both are quite effective at luring the boxelder bugs out. Please dispose of the insects as soon as possible, or they may leave unpleasant odors.
5. Herb sachets
Make small sachets of herbs that have a strong smell. Please place them in the areas where these bugs tend to gather. Lavender, cloves, and sage are some of the herbs that you can try. In fact, most bugs hate their smell. Essential oils are also great at repelling these bugs. Soak cotton balls with oils and place them around windows or other openings.
· If you notice small clusters of boxelder bugs in the yard, you can break them up by blasting a powerful stream of water from a garden hose. This will not kill the bugs but will be dislodged temporarily, and the growth of the swarm will slow down. You will be in a better position to manage the problem by keeping the numbers down.
· By using diatomaceous earth, you can banish boxelder bugs to quite an extent. Diatomaceous earth is an organic, powder-like substance made of fossilized microalgae remains. It is deadly to the bugs but completely non-toxic to humans and their pets. Still, it would be best if you took precautions while using the powder. Wear gloves, safety glasses, and a mask while scattering the powder in the recommended amount around the boxelder or other trees where you see the bugs. Use the powder to draw a boundary around your house, especially around the entry points.
If you need to use an insecticide, ensure that you get the kind that specifically attacks the boxelder bugs and does not cause harm to other helpful insects and your plants.
Praying Mantis and boxelder bugs
What does a praying mantis have to do with boxelder bugs? It is known that this predator have a huge appetite and love to chomp on insects of all kinds. There are some ways you can attract praying mantises to your surroundings.
- Offer them a good hiding spot. They don’t like open spaces. Plant some ground cover plants for them to sneak under. Hostas are a great choice to attract praying mantis. These plants provide enough protection for these insects for them to stay.
- Try planting some flowering plants like marigold and cosmos. Even herbs like dill attract praying mantis. These plants look good when in bloom, so you can keep your garden looking great while attracting praying mantises.
- Praying mantises get thirsty in the summer months. You need to offer them water for them to remain hydrated. Keep a shallow dish with a little water. Keep some rocks in the dish so that it is easy for the insects to come for a quick sip, and there is no danger of falling into the water.
- Be careful about using insecticides or pesticides in your garden. Some products will not harm the praying mantis and other beneficial insects. Insects like ladybugs and praying mantis are helping you, so you need to take care of them.
- You can make your concoction to attract these voracious eaters. Mix a little sugar in water and place it in a shallow dish. Even if other insects come for this, it is alright because praying mantises love anything that moves.
If adding the plants and other things does not work, and you cannot get praying mantises to come to your garden, what other options do you have?
- Purchase egg casings of praying mantis. You can get these from the local garden store or online. Don’t buy too many; otherwise, you will be left with a huge population of praying mantis that will either starve or go elsewhere looking for food.
- Place the egg casings around your garden. It would be best if you tied them securely to branches about 2-4 feet above the ground.
- You can also hatch the praying mantises indoors and release them during summer. Place the egg casings in a paper bag and keep them in direct sunlight. As soon you see the hatchlings, release them. If you are not fast, they may end up eating each other.
Getting rid of boxelder bugs is not very difficult, and if you are careful from the first sight of a bug, you can manage it quite easily. However, once they are inside your homes, they can be a nuisance. Remember that they are harmless and do not cause any damage. If you are still bent on taking them out of your house, use natural ways. One great way to get organically rid of boxelder bugs is to attract or bring praying mantis to your garden. They will ensure that you no longer face the boxelder menace.
Follow the steps mentioned above and Happy Gardening!