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 similar 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 target a wide range of dead insects for food but will feed up on plants, vegetables and fruit when available.


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Boxelder bugs become a problem when they move into your yard or home. Once they infest a tree, their population will grow from year to year. You’ll notice them congregating in massive numbers on the tree bark, limbs and the immediate ground surrounding 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; in the fall it will migrate to “scented” locations on which to hibernate during the colder months of the year.



Boxelder bug 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 (shed their exoskeleton) and begin a new instar, they’ll 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’ve been feeding on throughout the summer. As it cools even more, boxelder bugs will take up residence in nearby homes and structures naturally drawn to the radiating warmth.

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, up under the siding and roofing and ultimately, inside. Besides the damage to leaves, fruit and trees around the home, if allowed to infest your house they will end up invading living spaces when its too cold for them to be outside.

Expect to have them climbing walls, clinging to curtains and buzzing around lights and ceilings throughout the winter. Since most homes are heated, boxelders don’t need to “sleep” through the cold. Instead, they will forage 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 sizes will be common when you have an active infestation.


Pur Black SealentOne might think that you can keep them out of the house by properly sealing up all entry points. But we have found this is usually an effort in futility. Basically most any home has so many routes of entry, its not possible to get them all. But it can help and should be done. If not to keep out bugs to keep the warm air inside.

So if you  attempt to seal them out, be sure to use quality products. No doubt homes which 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 and a good product to start with is what professionals use known as PUR FOAM SEALENT.

Pur Black Sealent



These cans are self charged and good for small jobs. They can put down a 3/8th” bead of sealant over 1000 feet long.

If you expect to need 2 or more cans, get the larger 25 oz of PUR FOAM SEALANT. It can lay over 1600 feet of sealant per can and will be more cost effective.




Pur Shooter Basic GunYou will need a FOAM GUN when using the larger cans but they’re well worth the investment. Basically they’ll make the task a lot easier allowing for a nice, precise bead of foam to be distributed without waste.


Pur Shooter Basic Gun




Pur CleanerYou’ll also need some FOAM GUN CLEANER to keep the guns clean and ready to go to work when next needed.



Pur Cleaner






No doubt boxelder bugs  will make a mess. Their droppings will accumulate everywhere 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 them reproducing and egg laying throughout the winter.  To stop them from being a pest all winter, you need to treat outside in the fall.



Spreader StickerViper CypermethrinSo to start, you need to keep them off the home. This sounds easy but it can be tricky. Most infestations start slowly and therefore can be hard to notice. But if you’ve seen them congregating on a nearby tree or active on the side of your house, you need to spray immediately.

Use CYPERMETHRIN and SPREADER STICKER for a quick kill and long lasting residual. Cypermethrin is fast acting and the Spreader Sticker will enable it to “spread” over the bugs better which enhances the overall result. Be sure to spray high up your home, preferably to the roof line, and then around windows, doors, shutters, etc. Boxelder bugs love light fixtures and will find any crack or crevice so be sure to get them all.

Next, any tree, plant or inanimate object you see them accumulating on should be sprayed too. This will reduce the active bugs in the yard wanting to nest in and around your home. By reducing these numbers you are reducing the amount that could find their way inside.

The Cypermethrin should be mixed at the rate of 1 oz per gallon of water and a mixed gallon can cover up to 500 sq/ft.

Viper Cypermethrin




Add 1 oz of Spreader Sticker to the tank mix with the 1 oz of Cypermethrin.

Spreader Sticker




And be sure to use a good PUMP SPRAYER for the treatment.

Pump Sprayer



If you have to reach up over 15 feet, consider our TROMBONE SPRAYER. It can reach up to 30 feet and will save time and effort for hard to reach tree tops or structures.





Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderDelta Gard GranulesBoxelder bugs will thrive in pine straw and even in the ground. They will nest just under the top layer of soil feeding on roots, sap and leaf litter. That means if you’re seeing activity on a tree, you need to treat the ground around the tree. For this treatment, the use of DELTAGARD GRANULES are well suited. Use 2 lbs for every 1,000 sq/ft. Our 20 lb bag will cover up to 1/4 acre and should be applied once a month for active problems; once a quarter for preventive treatments.

Delta Gard Granules



Use a traditional “push” type fertilizer spreader to apply Delta Gard. A HAND HELD SPREADER can be used too.

Scatterbox HB Granule Spreader




In most cases, killing the active boxelder bugs will allow infested trees or shrubs to survive. Too many times an infested tree is taken down because the homeowner suspected it would die. But just because you see a lot of bugs does not mean your tree will automatically die. In general, trees and shrubs are quite resilient. And if you give them 6-12 months following the control of the problem, you will be able to tell if they’re coming back or gone for good.

Plant Stress GlassesTo help identify just how unhealthy they might be, a pair of STRESS GLASSES can help. These unique filtering glasses will reveal just which shrubs and trees are under duress and need attention. Be sure to treat around them with the Granules and liquid Cypermethrin to insure you get any insect that might be causing your trees a problem.

Plant Stress Glasses



Cyonara RTS


Now if you discover the activity is distributed over a large area, like 5,000 sq/ft or more, go with CYONARA RTS 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 easier to apply by using the garden hose to do the spraying. Each jug is 32 oz and can cover up to 1/2 acre. And it works on a wide range of pest too, not just boxelder bugs.

Cyonara RTS





PT-PhantomIf the boxelder bugs have already moved inside and have started to be annoying in the home, you’ll need to get them where they’re nesting. This will usually be in the wall under an electric outlet cover or around a window frame. It could also be in a chimney or light fixture. For rooms where you’re unsure of where they’re nesting, PT-PHANTOM AEROSOL is a good option. It uses an active which insects will not detect and will readily walk over. The active doesn’t act quickly but instead will take 3-4 days to kill. But  when one bug picks up some active it will in turn “transfer” the chemical to other bugs. This is very helpful because when it does kick in and start to work, it will many times kill many bugs even if just 1-2 walked over the treated area.

Phantom has virtually no odor and goes on relatively dry when used properly. Use it on window sills, door frames and basically spot treat anywhere you see them active. Retreat every 2 weeks until the problem is gone. It will usually take 4-6 weeks for all nests to die off.




FS MP AEROSOLNow if you know exactly where the boxelder bugs are hiding and have found them using the same areas over and over again, the FS MP AEROSOL might be the better treatment to use. Its fast acting and will kill in seconds. Since boxelder bugs can congregate in big numbers, having a fast acting killing agent is sometimes handy and FS MP is made for this need. It comes with a crack and crevice straw for hard to treat voids and will both flush and kill immediately. Use it every 2 weeks to make sure the treatment is fresh – especially for outside areas which are subject to the weather.





Once you treat, only time will enable the application to kill off the problem. If you got them before winter, there is a good chance you won’t have them all winter long. But if they’re already inside living rooms, keep a vacuum handy. Alternatively, we have a couple of devices that are both handy and effective at removing single boxelder bugs one at at time.

First, the HAND HELD ZAPPER c is a powerful tennis racquet looking device that will kill any bug in seconds. Its handy because it works within a few seconds and can be kept discreetly out of sight. But when needed, its ready to go with a push of a button.

Hand Held Zapper


The second option is the BUG VACUUM ZAPPER. This device is the “humane” option. It features a long extension tube so you can vacuum up the boxelder bug and once captured, decide its fate. You can “fry it” by using the built in zapper or take it outside and let it go to live another day. You control its destiny.

Bug 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.


Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).

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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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