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.

Second, treat boxelder bugs as they congregate on house siding as outlined below. Keep 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 two additional insects have stated causing similar problems in parts of the US. The brown marmorated stink bug 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

First try just insecticidal soap to 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 in the fall 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).

A botanical insecticide can be used for longer (a few days) residual control but again be sure to check product labels for approved uses. A variety of botanical and "natural" insecticides are available from our affiliate here.

As a last resort, a light spray of a pyrethroid insecticide (active ingredient = bifenthrin, cypermethrin, permethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, and other ingredient names ending in "-thrin") can be applied to the siding and eves, wherever boxelder bugs congregate. Be sure to check the product labels for appropriate usage. 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. You'll need a 1-3 gal. pump sprayer, safety equipment (depending on what you use) and a ladder as well.

Kits and other supplies for boxelder bug control are available here (, our affiliate.

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.

Don't forget to bookmark us for next time - press ctrl-D in most browsers.

Mission: To provide accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information for solving common insect and mite problems around your home, business and landscape using least-toxic methods.

Please see the Disclaimer statements as well.

Copyright © 2004-... LivingWithBugs, LLC. All rights reserved.