Boxelder bugs are a nuisance; whether they are inside or outside your house. This article offers a guide on how to effectively get rid of these bugs forever with use of sprays, natural remedies, insecticides, manual removal, predators, repellants and preventive measures.
Using Bug Sprays
Neem oil spray
Neem belongs to the Mahogany family. It is native to Asia more specifically North and West India. For centuries, it has been used as a natural repellant against bugs.
Of the 99 compounds in neem, there are active compounds which include; nimbin, azadirachtin, nimbolide, and nimbidin. These active compounds contain insecticidal effects.
In most cases, Neem oil is used outside the house, that is, in your garden. It can be sprayed safely on plants that are a home for boxelders since this oil is non-toxic.
There are two ways in which you can use neem to keep boxelder away from your home. The first option is too grow neem in your garden, and the second option is to make neem oil spray.
Neem oil spray is made using 2 tablespoons of neem essential oil and about two cups of water. Make a mixture of the oil and water in the spray bottle. Spray the ash, maple, female boxelder trees and also spray all around your house.
Cedar oil bug spray
You can use this spray inside or outside the house. It has an advantage over most oils in that it has a very pleasant smell. Since the oil causes osmotic dehydration and consequently suffocation of all insects, it can be used to eliminate boxelder bugs as well.
Cedar oil works also by emulsifying the body of the bugs and eventually killing them. You will need two spoons of cedar oil and a small glass of vodka. The oil will dissolve into the vodka then you add the solution into a spray bottle filled with half liter of water.
This is a spray which kills boxelder bugs by weakening their nervous system instantly and breaking it down. This spray is natural and therefore there are no known side effects that you should worry about.
You can get this spray from any store around your home. This spray is used to kill boxelder bugs when they are spotted in the garden.
When buying this spray, check well to ensure that the spray has no synthetic adjuvants. Since the boxelder bugs reproduce outside, especially on trees, it is advisable to use this spray on such trees.
This ensures that you not only kill the boxelder bugs but their eggs as well. Generally, this spray is used outside the house.
Horticultural oil spray
These are oils applied during the dormant season. For that reason, these oils are referred to as dormant oils. The dormant season in the case of boxelder bugs is the winter season.
There are however other horticultural oils which are more refined and are made of petroleum and other chemicals. These oils are not used just during the dormant seasons but the active seasons as well.
Horticultural oils block the holes that are used for breathing in trees. The boxelder bugs hiding in the trees end up suffocating to death.
These oils also destroy the eggs and this is a very great strategy of getting rid of boxelder bugs since it kills the problem at its source.
These oils are safe as long as you use them as per the given instructions. No toxic residue is left after these oils evaporate. You do not need any expertise to be able to use this oil since they are very easy to use. You can use this oil on most plants where boxelder bugs live but for the maple trees. This is because maple trees are sensitive to horticultural oils.
In the store, you can find two types of dormant oils, diluted or concentrated oils. Directions on how to use each of these oils will be indicated on the containers of these oils. In most cases the oils come in spray bottles but in the case where they are not in spray bottles, always find a spray bottle to put in the oil. A spray bottle makes it easy to spray and reach the furthest hiding places of the bugs.
For these oils to be totally effective, you should not use them in temperatures that are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, you should not use the horticultural oils in areas that are very humid. This is because the evaporation times of the oils will increase and may consequently harm the leaves of these plants or trees.
Natural Home Remedies
Some of the best natural home remedies found to be effective in killing boxelder bugs are discussed below;
This is the simplest way of getting rid of boxelder bugs without necessarily using any special equipment.
It is mostly used inside the house where you vacuum clean the areas that are infested with boxelder bugs.
To ensure you get rid of all the bugs, you should use a broom together with a dustpan to ensure the bugs are swept off.
Vacuum cleaning as a method of getting rid of boxelder bugs is found to be effective in the case where the infestation by these bugs is not over a very wide area. When you are done cleaning, freeze the vacuum bag. This should be done overnight before disposing the bag to ensure all the bugs enclosed in the bag are dead.
This natural remedy works best when the boxelder bugs are on trees. You will need a bucket full of hot water and 4to 5 tablespoons of insecticidal soap. The water should not be too hot since it may burn the hose pipe.
Mix the insecticide soap with the hot water and spray it on the tree barks to wash away the boxelder bugs. You must be careful not to burn your skin with the hot water. Repeat the procedure of splashing the water on tree barks to kill the boxelder bugs that may have escaped the first procedure.
Where you are lucky enough to spot the boxelder bugs before they can enter your house, you can simply wash them away.
This method is most effective where you are dealing with young boxelder bugs (nymphs).
This is because, when washed with water, nymphs easily drown. You are advised to add some soap to the water so that the area infested with boxelder bugs will be disinfected as well.
The procedure is very simple and all you will be required to do is put water into a bucket then spread the water all over the infested area. Once the bugs have drowned, use a wiper to wipe off all the bugs in the water.
This is a powdery substance which consists of fossilized remains of aquatic organisms. The little aquatic organisms which make diatomaceous earth are referred to as diatoms and they consist of silica gotten from the diatom’s skeleton.
Diatomaceous earth kills these bugs by causing them to dry out. This powder absorbs oils and fats from the cuticle of the bug’s exoskeleton.
Diatomaceous earth is used in a similar way as borax. You are required to identify the warm places where boxelder bugs hide then sprinkle those areas with this powder.
To attain a higher degree of efficiency, you can use diatomaceous earth I combination with borax.
Diatomaceous earth is generally safe to use but you must ensure that neither kids nor pets come into contact with this powder as it may be harmful to their skin.
If you are not allergic to poultry, you may keep guinea hens, chickens, or ducks in your garden so that they help you reduce the number of boxelder bugs in your garden. Approximately 10-15% of the food that poultry survive on is insects.
If there are no more appealing insects to eat in your garden, the poultry will eat boxelder bugs. This method alone cannot however get rid of all the boxelder bugs and it is best used in combination with other methods.
Killing with Pesticides & Insecticides
According to the University of California (Agriculture and Natural Resources), insecticide sprays do not always give the best results since boxelder bugs are mostly hiding in cracks and crevices. Even that, insecticides can be used alongside other remedies. Some of the common insecticides or pesticides are;
Carbaryl is a solid which is white in color. In most stores, it is referred to as Sevin. Most homeowners like using carbaryl because of its low toxicity. In the United States, Sevin is the third most commonly used insecticide.
You can either purchase a concentrated formula or a ready to use formula. According to the instructions on the label, the concentrated formula requires that you dilute it with water. The ready to use formula is already diluted.
Whichever formula you decide to use, the spraying should be done using a spray bottle. When spraying, you must ensure that all parts of the tree or plant are well covered by the spray. This insecticide is so effective that it not only kills the boxelder bugs, but also other unnecessary bugs in your garden.
Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)
Like the carbaryl, BT is a low toxic substance that you can use to kill boxelder bugs in your garden. It is preferred in cases where the boxelder infestation is uncontrollable and the other methods have failed to bring the infestation to an end.
BT is classified under biological pesticides since it is a soil dwelling bacterium which is gram positive. Once the boxelder bugs eat this pesticide, the bacterium gets dissolved in its gut punching holes in the gut lining.
The holes created lead to spilling of the BT all over the body of the boxelder bugs. This will result to germination in the insect and finally death of the bug.
There are various strains of Bacillus Thuringiensis in the market and you must be careful to choose the one that best kills the boxelder bugs. This is important to avoid killing other useful bugs in your garden like the ladybug.
Application of BT is similar to that of carbaryl and all you need is to put the liquid in a spray bottle and spray the areas infested with the boxelder bugs.
Also referred to as boric acid, borax is an excellent way of getting rid of boxelder bugs and has been used since 1948 in the United States. Boric acid contains sodium borate salts.
These salts act as natural pesticides which when eaten by the boxelder bugs, it destroys not only their stomach walls but also their nervous system. This kills the bugs.
The boxelder bugs do not have to eat the salts for them to die. As soon as the bugs come into contact with the sodium borate salts, their skin gets a rash which causes the entire body of the bugs to be damage leading to death.
Borax is used mostly inside your house especially in the warm areas where these bugs are suspected to be hiding. Sprinkle borax powder in the warm areas inside your house where the boxelder bugs like to hibernate.
Borax will kill the bugs as described above and you therefore can use a broom to sweep off the dead bugs and clean the area.
When doing your cleaning, you should be as careful as possible since borax is very toxic and it may cause damage on your skin. Children and pets should be kept as far as possible from the area sprinkled with non-food grade borax.
You can also remove boxelder bugs manually as follows;
Use your hands to remove them
This method is likely to work when the infestation is in its early stages. You are required to trap the bugs with jars then release them far away from your garden.
Another manual way of getting rid of the boxelder bugs is by pouring boiling water on the areas infested with the boxelder bugs, the soil and walls.
Use of Traps
Coffee can trap
This is a homemade trap which you can use in your garden to get rid of boxelder bugs. This trap is buried into the soil and bait is put in it. The most suitable bait is boxelder seeds which attract the boxelder bugs.
To trap the nymphs, you can add water to the can. The nymphs will drown in the water. The adult bugs will simply be trapped into the can.
Once the boxelder bugs have been trapped, you should remove the can and ensure these bugs are dumped well. Preferably you should freeze them, burn them, or dispose them in the trash in an airtight bag.
Glue Board Trap
These are sticky traps used to trap boxelder bugs before they can enter your house. These traps are placed at the exterior entry points to your house. You can buy these traps from any nearby shops and stick them yourself since they do not require any special skill. You only need to purchase the glue and a cardboard.
The glue is applied on the cardboard. When the boxelder bugs try walking across this board, they get stuck and cannot escape. Once you have trapped most if not all the bugs, burn the board. You can place another board to trap any boxelder bugs that may have escaped.
Boxelder Bug Predators
There are only few predators of boxelder bugs. This is so because the red color on their body acts as a warning sign making most predators to avoid them as a source of food. Although they are not poisonous, boxelder bugs produce an odor which is not pleasant when they are crushed. Discussed below are the boxelder bug predators;
Examples of rodents who eat boxelder bugs are; mice, chipmunks, and rats. You cannot rely on the rodents to entirely get rid of these bugs since they only eat a few boxelder bugs at a time.
Praying mantis, spiders and wheel bugs
Some species of the spiders and praying mantis feast on boxelder bugs as mentioned earlier. You are required to leave spider webs around the infested areas. Praying mantis are excellent predators who know how to stalk their prey. They take advantage of their spiked front legs to snare the boxelder bugs.
Wheel bugs on the other hand are branded the assassins of the insect world. They have cog-like structures on their backs earning them the title ‘assassins’. It usually injects enzyme-laden saliva into the prey leaving it immobile. It then sucks out the body fluids of the bug and the bug eventually dies.
Chickens, ducks and guinea hens
As earlier mentioned, boxelder bugs are part of the diet for chickens, ducks and guinea hens. This however only happens if there is shortage in supply of the other sources of boxelder bug food.
Guinea hen is classified as the better option of the three since it feeds on 90 percent insects and a small quantity of garden materials.
Repellents and other Methods to keep them away
The two most common plants that act as boxelder bug repellants are the neem plant and oregano plant. If you grow these two plants around your house and in your garden, they repel boxelder bugs sparing you the costs you would incur trying to get rid of the bugs had they infested your house already. Other repellents include
Garlic bug spray
Garlic acts more as a repellant rather than an insecticide. The smell and acidity of the garlic is what keeps the bugs away from you home and garden. You will need to crush garlic and add it to about 16 ounces of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle then spray your doors and windows.
Lemon juice and vinegar bug spray
A solution of vinegar and lemon juice is also used as a repellant and in the same way as the garlic spray; it is sprayed all over your windows, doors and all the entrances to your house to keep boxelder bugs away from your home. To make the solution, you will mix lemon juice and vinegar in equal proportions.
More tips to prevent them
There are several ways of preventing boxelder bugs infestation. They include the following;
- Seal your window frames to ensure no bugs can find their way into your house. Always ensure that the doors are well closed and any spaces sealed. Apart from the doors and windows, you must ensure that vent pipes are screened off and roof openings are well covered to guarantee no entry of the boxelder bugs.
- Get rid of any wood piles and landscape debris which may act as a hiding place for the boxelder bugs during winter. It reduces the chances of survival of the bugs in your home and the garden as well during winter.
- Add caulk to crevices and cracks that are around your home.
- Keep your house, especially the kitchen, very clean.
- Create a barrier zone where you are to push pine straw, bark, or mulch about 6 inches off the foundation of your home.
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