Boxelder bugs are generally black and red and have been identified in most states of the Union. Although other insects closely related to Boxelders look like them including the milkweed bug, none are likely to congregate in huge numbers like boxelder bugs. Members of this insect family feed on woody plants and herbs. The boxelder bug got it’s name because it was found to infest boxelder trees. These trees were planted in the west as settlers wanted quick growing shade trees. The availability of the vast numbers of boxelder trees allowed the boxelder bug to flourish. It now infests many other species of trees including maples, apple and almond. It seems to like several types of dead insects and fruit as well.


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Boxelder bugs become a problem when they move into your yard or home. Once they begin to infest a tree, their population will grow from year to year. You will notice them congregating in massive numbers on the tree bark, limbs and the immediate ground around the tree. This congregation will occur in the spring and then again in the fall. In the spring, the boxelder emerges from its winter hibernation looking for a tree or plant that will supply food for the season.



Young hatch in early summer and grow like roaches; they develop by instars. This means they go through several stages which resemble adults but will be smaller in size. As they molt and begin a new instar, they will become more and more like their reproducing parents. In the fall, they will seek the south or warm side of the tree or plant they have been feeding on throughout the summer. As it cools more, boxelder bugs will take up residence in nearby homes and structures.

Since they over- winter and do not die from year to year, a population can reach huge numbers. This “colony” will readily infest the same area from year to year once a successful winter shelter has been found. Some will migrate onto your home and ultimately lead to them getting inside. Besides the damage to leaves, fruit and trees around the home, if they are allowed to infest your house they will end up invading relentlessly. Expect to have them climbing walls, clinging to curtains and buzzing around lights and ceilings throughout the winter. Since your home is heated, they don’t need to “sleep” through the cold. Instead, they will forage around inside causing discomfort and being a nuisance until the spring. Here is a short video of one inside a home. This boxelder was filmed in the middle of winter but because it’s warm inside, they’ll stay active.



This video shows many phases of Boxelder Bugs so you can see adults compared to nymphs. All are common to find when you have an infestation.


Pur Black SealentYou can attempt to seal them out but this will require the right products and some time. sealing is effective, however, and help to keep out all other unwanted pests. For this reason the time and cost to do some “house sealing” is worth it. Most homes that get invaded have lots and lots of small cracks, crevices and gaps through which boxelders enter. These entry points should be reduced and/or eliminated with the use of some FOAM SEALENT.

Pur Black SealentPur Black:


Pur Pro Gun 24"Pur Shooter Basic GunThese cans are self charged and good for small jobs. If you have a lot of work to do, it would be wise to invest in one of the professional FOAM GUNS and maybe even the 24″ FOAM GUN. These tools will enable you to apply the sealent quickly and precisely without much waste or missed applications. In other words, they will more then pay for themselves.


Pur Shooter Basic GunPur Gun:

Pur Pro Gun 24"Pur Gun 24″ :


Pur CleanerPur IPF FoamYou’ll need the FOAM CANNISTERS for these guns, which easily fit on either applicator, and cover a much larger area then the smaller cans. If your home is prone to animal invasions, consider the FOAM WITH REPELLENT. This cannister comes with expanding foam but includes a strong repellent which insects and animals do not like. It may be just what you need to make sure ladybugs and other undesirable home invaders aren’t able to find their way inside quite as easily as they have in the past. Be sure to keep your guns clean by using some FOAM GUN CLEANER. This will help keep the gun functioning and ready to go to work when next needed.


Pur IPF FoamFoam Repellent:

Pur CleanerPur Gun Cleaner:




Although boxelder bugs don’t bite, they will make a mess. Their droppings will accumulate where they are roosting and their eggs will appear as a series of small sacks laid 6-12 in a row. Since warm homes interfere with their natural cycles and biology, you may find reproduction and egg laying throughout the winter months. To remove the ones which are emerging inside the home, use a vacuum. This may seem like a never ending job, but it allows for a clean and quick removal of the pest. However, if you don’t address where they are entering, expect the supply of boxelder bugs to be ever increasing. To stop the invasion, there are several things you should do both inside and outside.



Pump SprayerSpreader StickerViper CypermethrinFirst, address the outside. Since most infestations start slowly, you can head it off before they establish themselves inside. If you have seen them congregating on a tree or the side of your house, you need to spray them immediately. Use CYPERMETHRIN and SPREADER STICKER for a quick kill. Mix these in a SPRAYER and treat any tree, plant or structure you see them accumulating on. This treatment will reduce the active ones wanting to nest in and around your home. By reducing these numbers, you are reducing the amount that could find their way inside. If you are treating an infestation which is outside only, the Cypermethrin will kill off those which are emerging. However, for long term control, the treatment must reach down to where the boxelders are nesting.


Viper CypermethrinCypermethrin:

Spreader StickerSpreader Sticker:

Pump Sprayer Pump Sprayer:




Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderDelta Gard GranulesSo if you’re seeing activity on a tree, you should also treat the ground around the tree with the intent being of getting the treatment to reach the roots of the host plant. For such situations, the use of DELTAGUARD GRANULES will be needed. Apply the Granules with a GRANULE SPREADER to insure you get a good even distribution.


Delta Gard GranulesDeltaGard:

Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderSpreaders:


In most cases, it is better to treat and kill off the established population instead of removing the infested plant. Simply removing the infested plant will rarely remove all the Boxelders and in most cases they will just move over to the next available host. Prevent this from happening if you have a lot of plants infested by first applying some of the Granules and then spraying over the top with the Cypermethrin.

Plant Stress GlassesTo help identify just how much of an area you should treat, a pair of STRESS GLASSES can really help. These unique filtering glasses will help to reveal just which shrubs and trees are under duress and need attention. Be sure to treat around them with both the Granules and liquid Cypermethrin to insure you get good penetration.

Plant Stress GlassesStress Glasses:


Cyonara RTSNow if the activity is distributed over a large area, like 5,000 sq/ft or more, go with CYONARA RTS for the liquid to apply instead of Cypermethrin. Cyonara is closely related to Cypermethrin but it’s designed for covering large areas more effectively. And since it comes with it’s own hose end sprayer, it’s much easier to apply over a large area.

Cyonara RTSCyonara RTS:




Drione DustIf the boxelders have already moved inside and have started nesting in your home, you will have to treat the structure as well. The first step for treating the home is to spray the outside walls. Using the cypermethrin, simply spray as high up the sides of the home you can reach. Our pump sprayer is able to reach up to 30 feet high which is needed in many situations. For mild infestations, spraying the outside of the home will stop them. If the population is one which is established and is more than a year old, you will have to do more. In addition to spraying with cypermethrin, you will need to treat cracks and crevices with DRIONE DUST.

Drione Dust Drione:


CrusaderThis material acts as a dessicant on the boxelder bugs and will make hibernation impossible. Drione is very to safe to use and yet very effective. Because it dries insects out, they find it to be irritating and just about any pest will avoid treated areas. Using a HAND DUSTER, apply the Drione to any crack, crevice, joint or seam where boxelders may enter. It may take a while to treat, but it will keep these invading pests out. Drione can also be used inside for wall treatments. Such areas are prime entry points and include electric outlets, switch plate covers, light fixtures, window and door frames.

CrusaderHand Duster:




PT-PhantomIf your home has already been invaded and you are finding the boxelders emerging inside, you must reduce their numbers. This can be done by vacuuming and treating with PT PHANTOM.



This aerosol is easy to use and it comes with a thin injector tube which allows you to treat thin cracks and seams through which the boxelders may enter. Treat the rooms where most of the activity is found. Treat around window frames, door frames, electric outlets, molding, light fixtures and just about any crack or crevice leading to the interior of walls or attic space. If the outside has been treated with Drione and Cypermethrin before the boxelders have moved in for the winter, you shouldn’t expect to have any coming inside. However, if you have experienced activity in the past, expect to see some even after treatment. Although this number should decrease, do not expect to get rid of them immediately. It will take a season or two for the cycle to be completely broken and their population diminished.

Bug Vacuum/ZapperHand Held ZapperOnce you have treated, only time will help the application to have it maximum effect. To help deal with the few you may still be seeing, a HAND HELD ZAPPER can be used. Its handy because it will kill just about any flying or crawling insect without making a mess.If you have a lot which are accumulating in cracks and crevices, our handy BUG VACUUM/ZAPPER may be better suited. It comes with it’s own recharger and works on just about any type of insect allowing for quick and clean bug removal.


Hand Held ZapperHand Held Zapper:

Bug Vacuum/ZapperBug Vacuum Zapper:


Treating for boxelder bugs before they move into the wall voids of your home is the best way to stop invading populations. Expect to see them grouping in the fall as they prepare for their winter hibernation. Treat these congregations with Cypermethrin for quick control. If they have already established themselves inside, you will need to treat outside populations with cypermethrin, exterior wall cracks with Drione Dust and interior entrance cracks with PT Phantom. This practical approach will stop new infestations, force them away from your beneficial trees and shrubs in your yard and keep your home from becoming their winter play ground.


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Comments on BOXELDER BUG CONTROL Leave a Comment

February 6, 2012

Joni @ 4:43 pm #


Thanks for your help. The pictures were the best way to identify the bug.

February 23, 2012

mary @ 5:31 pm #


Can’t you just cut the trees down and eliminate the bugs all together. Just bought a home, has 2 trees in back and the bugs are swarming all over the gazebo and house. I can’t see where there are any leaves on these trees.

Thank you.

March 17, 2012

Becky @ 10:17 am #


We have found random Box Elders in our home for over a year. We are looking to treat the exterior of our house this spring but believe we have colonies inside. How do you find indoor colonies that may be living in walls? And what is the best method to eliminate (in addition to exterior treatment)?
Thank you!

March 25, 2012

Dave Strickland @ 11:51 pm #


I have the Box Elders you show outside my house and some get inside but my real problem inside and out is a smaller version that is tan/gray in color and when you catch one they leave a sage type scent on you that’s hard to get rid of. Someone told me they were box elders but they look different and hang around box elders. My home is infested and nothing seems to kill them. What I want to know is will your pesticides kill them? And what exactly are they? I can send you some in an envelope for identification. Any way, help me pleaaasseee… Dave.

March 26, 2012
April 26, 2012

barb schoenfuss @ 10:30 am #


Hi. I have the boxelder poop on the house and had it professionally cleaned and it didn’t come off. Do you know of anything that will take it off? Thank you.

July 16, 2012

Bill Moden @ 10:11 am #


Thank you for all the info on boxelder bugs. My first battleground with these bugs was on my porch with a flyswatter (killing about 50 a day). However that form of assault doesn’t seem to reduce the number. My next form of defense will be this cypermethrin you mentioned. Thanx again. Bill.

Scott Lewis @ 12:26 pm #


The remedies you site with the spray and granules, are they safe for dogs or other pets?

July 27, 2012

Bryan Buchanan @ 11:48 am #


I have an infestation of boxelder insects in the back corner of my lot. I had it treated by a professional pest company on the split rail fence, post and tree. However, I need something for my tomatoes, peppers etc. I found two red tomatoes ‘covered’ with them yesterday. What can I use on them? Thanks.

August 21, 2012

Chelsie @ 10:49 pm #


Hello my previous apartment became slowly filled with box elder bugs. At first we noticed big ones then noticed them mating and then started finding eggs and babies and since our landlord did nothing we finally were able to move out. I tried to clean everything and search through everything the best I could before the move but I’m nervous the babies will follow us and we will have a never ending problem. We have been moved in for about a week and I have seen only one baby. There are no trees or really any grass around us..any suggestions or thoughts? Thanks!

August 22, 2012
August 24, 2012

Bhoberg @ 9:27 am #


I have a mandevilla tropical plant that boxelders are all over. I need to bring it in for the winter months but don’t want to bring it in until the bugs are gone. Anything safe for tropical plants? Any suggestions will be very much appreciated.

August 31, 2012

shirley burleson @ 12:54 pm #


Just had box elder trees cut by city that were along ally boarding our property line that were interfering with power lines. They were outside our property line. Now we are greatly infested with the bugs in all sizes as they were in the trees reproducing. They are up and down tree limbs, all over almost anything including the grass, millions of them, the house is stucco and white. We have sprayed with some spray also laundry detergent mixture. Do we now try to use granules on grass and stronger spray on house and trees?? Please help we are quite worried how many are getting into walls. Thank you.

September 16, 2012

anne @ 4:46 pm #


We have a tree that is covered from top to bottom, inside and out (it appears) with boxelder bugs. Before I saw this site, I sprayed the bugs on the trunk with sevin, some fell off, but they’re still milling around. Oh, they’re in the grass and beginning up another trunk, too. I’ll try the products you recommend, but what about the thousands that are up covering the branches on the treetop (say 40 feet)? Thanks for any help.

September 21, 2012

Bev Marks @ 11:59 am #


Are the products you have mentioned safe for birds and other wildlife? I have numerous feeders and do not want to have an adverse effect on the environment.

September 26, 2012

Bonnie Lehmkuhl @ 4:57 pm #


Where do you buy this stuff to get rid of box elder bugs? How much is it to treat a house outside and inside? How often do you have to do it too?

Bev Marks @ 5:59 pm #


We have ordered the Cypermethrin and Spreader Sticker and it should arrive tomorrow. We have been using dishwashing soap and water to control a very large infestation of nymphs, spraying several times daily since we discovered them. That is helping but it has to be done every day. Now we are seeing the adults also. I have only found two nymphs and one adult in the house but it is getting cooler here in IL. I have 2 questions. Do we have to repeat the Cypermethrin application more than once this fall? Also, our home is painted cedar and there are so many crevices it will be virtually impossible to hit them all. If they overwinter in these crevices and behind shutters how can I keep them from laying eggs in the spring? We have two maple trees and an ash and wetlands that we back up to. We noticed a woodpecker this summer in the ash frequently. Is there a product we can use to keep them from laying eggs to alleviate another infestation of this magnitude. I have never experienced this since moving to this house 3 years ago. I read on one site that a hot drought summer like we had can add to this problem. Thank you so much for all the wonderful info you have provided on your site.

October 21, 2012

tmarsh @ 3:57 pm #


This page has a lot of great information about controlling box elder beetles. I read the products are safe for people and wildlife; however, my concern is that my dog eats these bugs like they are treats. If she eats the dead bugs would this be harmful for my dog? Thanks!

October 23, 2012

Judy @ 6:55 pm #


Something else boxelders do is to eat the insulation of insulating draperies and ruining them.

November 5, 2012

Sherrill Muller @ 7:13 pm #


If you seal the cracks after they move in will they die or just continue to live inside?

January 20, 2013

melanie lindberg @ 9:58 pm #


We had a rough time with them in the summer but I thought they die when it’s this cold. Now there are a few in the house and I’m just wondering why? Is there a nest like you spoke about somewhere? We live by the river. Does that contribute to the problem?

February 15, 2013

kimberly dickenson @ 12:00 am #


I have a lot of boxelder bugs in my basement. Most of them are dead but now I’m finding them in my living room and bathroom. Its winter time and I’m not sure where they came from. They are becoming a real problem. How do I treat for them and get rid of them? Thank you.

March 10, 2013

Mary Anne Winslow @ 1:23 pm #


Thanks for all the great comments. I came home today to find about 15 box elders on the inside of a sliding glass door in our kitchen. Last fall they swarmed by the hundreds on the west side of our house. You mention several products. Which is the BEST product to eradicate these creatures inside and out?

April 8, 2013

Chris F @ 2:43 pm #



I live in Central Illinois and got the first nice warm days of the year in a new house. I found probably what would be a couple of hundred boxelders on the outside walls of an addition over a crawl space. I sprayed them with bug spray and then soap and water as I read that worked good. They did all die but there is a definite problem. What steps (in order) should I take to start the process of removing these things!?


April 9, 2013

Chris F @ 1:48 pm #


I have read the article but it really doesn’t say where to start. Maybe I need to add some more information.
-I have a house with vinyl siding
-I have a basement but area of addition where they seem to be gathering is over a crawl.
-I don’t have many inside…maybe 5 or so at most but LOTS outside.

With that where do I start?? spray, dust, seal, ?? Do I start now or wait until I see them or certain time of year??

I assume I will be battling them all year but want to take the right steps at the right time in the right order to make sure they dont come back …or find a home in my home this coming winter.

Thank you!

Chris F @ 4:04 pm #


THANK YOU SO MUCH! ..and will check back in after a few applications to let you know the progress.

April 30, 2013

Marie L @ 12:20 pm #


I too have issues with these ugly elder bugs. The spray treatment you recommend for the exterior of the home; will it stain my siding? Its vinyl. I’ve made the mistake of using an insect spray before and needless to say it left a slight stain on the viny siding. My husband was very upset. Please let me know.

May 6, 2013

Stephen Breen @ 4:13 pm #


I see a lot of Box Elders that look like they are reproducing, usually a large one with a small one attached to each other at the rear. I have not seen any pictures to be able to identify male from female. Any suggestions?

May 29, 2013

Arlene @ 9:05 pm #


I have discovered box elder bugs in my mulch where I just planted. There is a huge number of them. Am going to spray but will this cypermethrin kill my plants? Should I avoid spraying the leaves?

October 12, 2013

Mary @ 1:28 pm #


Hi, I have an interesting one for you…We have an infestation of boxelders in our car…Not the inside but the lining and cracks in the doors, hood etc. Have not seen any in/around the engine. My fear is how long they have been there and since we park in the garage should I now be concerned they have migrated to our home. We will spray garage and other areas but, do you think it is safe to spray the car?
Thanks for all the great info.!

October 24, 2013

L Wright @ 2:33 pm #


Goodness, I thought I was alone in this fight! We live in a cedar home in the woods and we have 100 acres of fir trees. I have boxelder bugs every year on the sides of my bat and board home, which has more cracks and crevices than you can imagine. I have vacuumed them, sprayed them, used soap and water on them, bought numerous insect sprays and gadgets….called the county extension agent, you name it, I’ve done it. Every night, I have a jar of soapy water on the coffee table, and each time I see one, I grab it and put it in the jar. Last night, there were probably over 75 bugs in the jar – and that many more in the jar in our bathroom. I will try anything – believe me – if this stuff works I will be your biggest fan ever! We don’t have a yard – just the woods….and I can’t possible treat every single tree – any suggestions?


October 25, 2013

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