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Boxelder Bug Control

- Stop bugs from getting into walls and attics -

Summary: Boxelder bug control is a two step process. First, seal any openings that can be used by the bugs to get inside the home then treat exterior surfaces with a low toxicity insecticide.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Stopping boxelder bugs

First, whenever possible exclude boxelder bugs (see What are Boxelder Bugs?) from entering the house by repairing screens and caulking cracks around windows and doors. Bugs that do get in will take up winter residence in wall voids and the attic. They will not cause any structural damage but will become a nuisance throughout the winter. If you are unable to seal exterior cracks you may need to treat wall voids and the attic with insecticidal dust (see Related Articles below).

Second, treat boxelder bugs as they congregate on house siding using one of the three ways outlined below. Bear in mind that bugs become less affected by insecticides later in the fall as their metabolism slows down for winter. Therefore treat as soon as migrating bugs start arriving in early fall.

Since this article was written several years ago two additional insects have stated causing similar problems in specific regions of the US. The brown marmorated stink bug in the northeast and the kudzu bug in the southeastern US. Both of these new "home invaders" can be managed in the same way you would boxelder bugs as described below.

picture of boxelder bug

Boxelder bug (about 1/2 inch long). Note the red markings around the dark grey wings.


Insecticide treatments

(1) Insecticidal soap can be used to safely treat bugs that congregate on house siding in the fall. You'll probably need to treat every day or two while new bugs continue arriving since soap has little or no residual activity. Spray bugs directly with a 1-2% soap solution using a backpack sprayer (see Using Insecticidal Soap).

(2) A new botanical insecticide, EcoPCO WP-X , is available here (DoMyOwnPestControl), that should give longer residual activity than soap while maintaining soap's safety margin. Spray areas where bugs enter buildings and congregate. What I like about this new material is that you get the benefits of a residual insecticide without the hazards of a conventional insecticide.


(3) Finally, the most aggressive approach is to apply a light spray of a pyrethroid insecticide to the siding and eves, wherever boxelder bugs congregate. It is not necessary to treat the bugs directly. Pyrethroid insecticides will give longer residual activity but are more toxic and hazardous to apply than soap or the botanicals like EcoPCO WPX above. Several pyrethroid insecticides are available including cypermethrin and permethrin. Both can be purchased here (DoMyOwnPestControl) but be sure to check the labels for appropriate usage. You'll need a pump sprayer, safety equipment (depending on what you use) and a ladder.

Treating the maple trees on which boxelder bugs develop has not been effective because these insects are strong fliers and may be coming from trees a long distance away.

Vacuum bugs off siding

Another, less expensive method is to simply use a large capacity wet/dry type vacuum cleaner to suck up bugs that are accessible. Be sure to empty the canister frequently because dead bugs inside the vacuum will begin to smell fairly quickly. This will need to be done every day or two in the fall as long as the bugs are flying in your area.

Related Articles

Using Natural Dust Insecticides

Using Botanical Insecticides

Using Garden Sprayers to Apply Insecticides


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Jack DeAngelis, PhD,  , email:  [email protected]

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