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Boxelder Bugs Must Die!

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Ugly little sucker.

I never really had Boxelder Bugs anywhere I had lived, until I moved into my house. I was told you only have them when there is a Boxelder tree nearby. As far as I know, we only have Walnut and Maple and Pine trees near us. Maybe a better name for them would be aluminum siding bugs, since that is where they love to hang out at my house.

I find Boxelder Bugs totally gross. But I was willing to only kill the ones that made it into the house. It is convenient that my dogs will eat them as “treats”. But then came the bad year. The Boxelder Bugs filled up my hard in big piles. I wanted to spray them with nice, poisonous bug spray. But my husband said that would kill the grass. I should never have listened to him. (Sorry Honey, but I think the grubs are doing in your grass faster than my bug spray would have.)

Mating. All over my porch.


So, I let them live that day. Then they started coating my house. They fornicated all over my porch. They laid their nasty little gold eggs all over my house siding and chain-link fence. I was overrun and distraught and disgusted by their very existence. I complained to everyone I knew. Finally, someone told me the secret. The wonderful murderous secret I use to my advantage to this day.

Dawn dish soap.

Yup. The same dish soap you buy at Meijer. The one that has pictures of cute little penguins on it and claims to help save wildlife. Dawn dish soap has been responsible for the murder of thousands of Boxelder Bugs at my house. I fill up the weed sprayer with a small amount of Dawn and lots of water. And I suffocate the hell out of those mother fuckers.

It took a lot of time and determination that year, but I did get the Boxelder Bugs under control. The mistake was letting them lay eggs, because Dawn doesn’t work on the eggs. The only way to kill the eggs is to smush them. They are small, so sometimes they just fall off too. Your best bet is to spray them when they are tiny little hatchlings with only fur for legs.

Threesome.


This year looks to be almost as bad, with our easy winter and early summer temperatures. But I saw them outside my window mating. So promiscuous. I grabbed my weed sprayer and went to town on them. Oh yes. My husband has an old ice shanty he leaves sitting by the driveway, against the house. And his toolbox for his truck. And they live there. I should move those obstacles, because I bet there are just red nests teaming with colonies of Boxelder Bugs under there. I have to be sure to spray not only the side of the house, but also the front and then the back, as the sun moves throughout the day. It will take a few weeks of daily spraying, but then they will be knocked down for summer.

I wish I had a hazmat suit to wear when I spray. After years of seeing their numbers decimated, they are starting to fight back. I can’t stand those THINGS landing on me. On my legs, arms, in my hair. One even landed on my glasses-ick! I come back into the house and can’t even enjoy a job well done because I feel as though they are crawling all over me. I am all buggy.

Some PETA person might think what I do is awful. It is the same policy I have against bats, birds, squirrels (don’t get me started)—all creatures. They can live wherever they want, but not in/on my house. No freeloaders. And nothing with wings or feathers or creepy crawlie attributes.

Did I mention the live ones eat the other dead Boxelder Bugs. They are CANNIBALS! You know why they have red markings, don’t you?

They were created by the devil.

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68 responses »

  1. My dad tells me that there is a product called “Sevin” found at hardware/tractor supply stores that, when sprinkled around the base of the house will keep them away forever.

    Reply
  2. LOVE IT! lazyhippiemama informed me that you were a kindred spirit in the bug-killing department after I posted on some offending arachnids at our house (http://frifflethoughts.wordpress.com). I wonder if Dawn works for other pests too? You better believe I’m going to be following behind the Orkin man with a bucket of sudsy water and a Nerf gun if it’ll help!

    Reply
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  4. starting to get a boxelder bug infestation over here 😦 I hate those ugly little fuckers! everytime I look at one I just want to vomit…

    Reply
  5. Omg…how I wish I found this blog this spring!! They ruined my peaches on my peach tree this year 😡
    Next year…I’m ready!!!!!

    Thx so much!!

    Reply
  6. Your husband is wrong about the bug spray killing the grass. Bug spray is a pesticide. You need an herbicide to kill grass. Or grubs or moles or gophers work, too 🙂 My husband calls them the f***ing bugs because of their behavior. We have a golden rain tree which is apparently a magnet for them, too. Other things you can try – diatomaceous earth (works best where humidity is low, windex, permethrin (don’t use if you have a fish pond or cats – non toxic to dogs and humans)

    Reply
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  10. we just got new windows and there still getting in. I cant even open the windows it is so annoying.So does the dish soap spray keep them from comin in to if i sprayed around the windows? Or is it just a spray to kill right then?

    Reply
    • Dish soap is just a spray to “kill right then”. The dish soap has to make contact with the boxelder bugs while it is still wet to kill them.

      One thing you can try is Raid Wasp and Hornet spray. Many types of bugs can get in around my attic window. I spray Raid Wasp and Hornet around there every spring, and it seems to have a residual effect for killing them long after you spray. I usually spray it inside, because my window is very high up. You might do better to use it outside, if possible. Raid Wasp and Hornet will kill any bug, but it is messy, poisonous to children and pets, and will kill grass and plants.

      Reply
      • Thank u I thought so but was just making sure. I can’t even open windows because they get through the screen. And they were just installed ugh. So I might just have to try that I vacuumed them today, they kept flying on me and at me and I’m 8 months pregnant lol. So that didn’t last long.

      • Good luck! Keep fighting the war:)

  11. Does it have to be Dawn? Do you know if any dish soap would work? I’m not sure of any ingredients that may make the difference.

    Reply
  12. I hate the bastard bugs. They are every where. I kill multiple in my bedroom daily. I haven’t slept well in months, not because of my 6 month old but because at night I lay there staring at the wall and window waiting for more. I feel like they are crawling all over me! One morning my husband found one crawling on my baby’s face. I will murder all of those little fuckers. Thanks for this glorious tip.

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting, Jessica. There are many, many people who feel the same way you do. This post is by far my most popular I have ever published in 2 years time!

      Reply
  13. They are heat seekers. This is way they try to invade in the fall. They supposedly won’t do any damage like moths or some other pest and are mostly a nuisance during the winter months. If you have a flower bed that is part in the shade and part sun, you will find them crowding into the sun. If you have lava rock or dark mulch heating up from the sun, they will live there. When that area drops into the shade, if it has dark object like a hose or black edging they will be all over it while it is still warm. If you have black plastic sheeting mulch or edging, they will swarm to it when in the sun. Nasty looking. You will have to spray in cycles. Go out when that area has built up sufficient heat and spray them. Only works on contact. Usually in 3 to 5 seconds they cease moving. Don’t be tempted to over spray if they don’t stop moving right away. Within 20 seconds at most, they’re goners.Come back later and check. You can probably spray again. Check each day, especially when really hot. After a certain number of spray their numbers will dwindle. You will be killing both breeding adults and the hatchlings. You have to keep checking though. If you wait too long, some may reach breeding age and start a new cycle. You can use a spray bottle like an old window cleaner one or go buy a one gallon pressure sprayer with a hose and wand. After putting a gallon of water in, pour in 2 Tbs (I use 3 for good measure.) of Dawn, close and rock gently to mix.. If you put the Dawn in while filling you end up with a suds issue as you fill. After spraying, don’t forget to release the pressure on the sprayer to extend its life. I usually get 2 treatments out of the gallon. Be very regular with this in the late summer to avoid an indoor infestation in the cool months. Happy hunting.

    Reply
    • Thank you for pointing out that consistently spraying every day during the hottest hours will provide someone with the best results!

      Reply
      • If you have an east facing wall or garden, they may be out in the morning even. It is not just an afternoon thing. Our house is a dark brick so the wall heats up early and so does the lava rock. I keep the gallon sprayer handy outside in the shade of the porch so anytime I come and go I check for them. It only takes about 2-4 minutes a hit to have a consistent repeating kill cycle. It is very much worth the effort. Big difference in as short as two weeks. They ate the leaves on the knockout roses until the buds and remaining leaves died. Fortunately, we didn’t dig them up and they recovered. I kept the boxelders under control and the roses are doing fine now. They are not supposed to be one of their preferred food sources.

    • Just be really, really careful. Repeated showers of dawn will kill all of your flowers. last summer we came home from church, there were so many of the creepy things crawling all over my hosta garden they looked like they were moving! Out came my fearless husband, hose and bottle attachment in hand, after about 3 days, all my flowers started to die. I have never hated a bug as much as I hate these things. There has got to be a way to get rid of them without killing everything else! Cheryl in MN

      Reply
      • For the most part, I spray when they are on ground or hard surfaces, If is see one or two on plants, I may give a quick spray directly on them, but I do not spray the whole plant. I won’t work that way anyway. It is strictly a contact thing. Once it dries it doesn’t work if they come in contact with it. If you have a brick wall in the sun, they will hide in the joints. They particularly like lava rock it seems. I started spraying about the first part of June and check once or twice a day to catch them at various stages in their live cycle. It’s a real bonus when you catch two of them linked. You know you have just killed dozens or more of them in advance as well as those two. I used to kill twenty or thirty a day. I am now only seeing 10 or less. Some days none. Must be winning the war. Stay on top of them. In the fall they will want to invade your house for warmth.

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  15. Lindsay Preece

    I think you are all AWESOME!!!! We have a serious boxelder bug problem here in Utah, and have tried everything….even the good old exterminator. I am going to try the Dawn dish soap to see if I can gain some sort of control. My family has now started to call them “our friends” since they are always with us! We go camping, and they are in our trailer. We take a road trip for baseball, they are in my son’s bag. The son of a bitches truly will not die!!!! Thanks for making me laugh as I read all the comments; I now know I am not psycho with the rage I feel toward the little assholes that never seem to leave my side :o)

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your comment. And let me just remind you to focus all that hostility on the nasty little black and red bugs, and not any other humans or animals….

      Reply
    • It really is critical that you get on them as soon as you see them and stay on them to disrupt their breeding. If you have maple trees (or perhaps other kinds too) they will live there and migrate across the lawn of phone and electric wires to the house. If you have an electric meter or panel, a cable or phone panel, or other thing attached to the sunny side of the house, they will congregate behind it in that heat. Spray behind it. As little a 1 or 2 tablespoons of Dawn will do the trick. One damp hit and in about 10 or 15 seconds they are toast. It has no residual effect though. After it drys they can walk right over it. Put the water in first, then the soap. Do it in reverse and you have sudsing coming out the top before you can get all the water in. I use the blue Dawn. I’m not saying the others won’t work, just that I know the blue does. In the really hot days with early sun, I may spray 3 times following the sun around the house. The babies are tiny little bulbous round red mites. It kill them too. I especially like spraying a pair that are coupled. I know I probably just killed potentially dozens by just killing those two..

      Reply
      • Lindsay Preece

        I just had my dad sit down next to me and I read him all the info that has been shared on this site. He is so excited he jumped right up to start mixing the concoction. It is still pretty chilly here, but the little suckers are fornicating already!! We are going to win the fight this year, I tell ya! I am going to get my kiddies involved in the spraying too! Give them an incentive….this could be totally awesome ;o) Thanks so much for all the tips!!

      • I use a small gallon plastic pressure sprayer, but I’ll bet you could use old window spray bottles, or plant spray bottles with the kids if they resisted shaking them into suds. Are you gonna have some fun. If you kill enough of them perhaps they won’t winter over in your house. They aren’t “nasty” like roaches, just a nuisance but can leave spots on the walls. If you have a brick house, they love to hang out in the mortar joints, so watch for them there and any dark surface that heats up.

  16. has anyone gotten rid of them for good.

    Reply
  17. I just wanted to comment on this thread. I’ve been battling these damn box elders for years. I’ve found the best solution for killing them is 1/4 cup Laundry detergent, 1 ounce Dawn dish soap, and 1 oz vinegar. Mix with 2 gallons of HOT water in weed sprayer. Almost kills them on contact or within 3-5 seconds.

    Reply
  18. We moved into our home a year ago. First fall, we battled box elder bugs. Used Dawn, tried pesticides such as Tempo (didn’t even phase them). This fall, discovered Amdro Quick Kill Lawn and Landscape. (No, I don’t work for them or have any affiliation, just found this stuff works and will save my sanity.) Found it in Home Depot. I laughed at someone’s comments that they killed 30 a day. I wish I could import pictures. We have literally thousands on the sides of our house. They cluster at the peak of the soffits and you can’t even see the side of the house. So, we do serious killing. The chemical that kills them is zeta-Cypermethrin. It has a residual, so will continue killing them unlike Dawn which is only contact effective. Amdro Quick Kill can be used on vegetation with no adverse effects. You can also get “farmer-strength” products, but you need access to them AND I would recommend you know what you are doing when working with those products. Do not use around water (creek, pond, etc. – fish very susceptible). These bugs are evil incarnate.

    Reply
  19. We had always had a minor problem with these demon spawn at our current house, but this last fall/early winter my husband had to tear apart our basement for a mold issue. After that I had dozens of them all over the house! Luckily we kept that room sealed (because of the smell of the Zinser primer) because when I went in there to check for any water leakage, I found HUNDREDS of them! They were getting in around the rotting wood frame of the window! I dashed to Home Depot where I found Ortho Home Defense Max. I was taking a chance on Ortho because it says that it can kill cockroaches and I figured “Hell, if it can kill those bastards then it might have a fighting chance at the demon spawn Box Elders!”
    One application in the dreaded room and the entire house population is down to a few lone survivors (who are steadily being squished upon sight). Plus Ortho Home Defense Max creates a barrier to (hopefully) deter them from entering and can be used on the exterior of the house! So next fall all of the possible entry points will be covered! And once it dries it’s safe for humans and animals.

    Reply
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  21. Omg …you’re soo funny I got the same problem here I’m taking you’re advice. Thanks

    Reply
  22. Thank you for this! Just at home depot picking up ortho home defence and a hose pump to fill up with soap. I’ve been using the soap, works great, but just population control.

    I feel so stupid. Moved into our first house from a condo. Early summer, saw a few of them, marvelled at their colours and even prevented the kids from stomping them out of a misplaced desire to teach them about the sanctity of life! A few months later and the kids can’t even play in the yard. Mid-day it’s like walking through a rain storm of shitty little red rain drops. To make matters worse, we have artificial grass and they seem to have domiciled underneath, and in between the planks on the fence. Now I’m terrified about them living in the siding of the house. The home is close to 100 years old, so, if King Kong Bundy wanted to find a way in, he probably could.

    Now, I’m just readying myself for a daily killing spree. Wish me luck. Hope you had a summer free of these bastards.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your comment and your very colorful, apt descriptions. After my really bad year in 2002 when I sprayed the f*** out of them, they have never been as bad for me. I haven’t even treated at all this year. I hope you have the same success. I don’t even feel bad about killing them. They aren’t honey bees; boxelder bugs don’t pollinate crap as far as I know. I also have a house that is over 100 years. I think they may live in my walls, but luckily don’t come inside. The only thing I had to pay big money for was bat-proofing!

      Reply
  23. I love this so much! I laughed my ass off! Thank you!

    Reply
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  25. I figured out a new way this year. I bought one of those Windex bottles that attach to the hose for cleaning outside of windows, and used it to kill them. Once the Windex ran out, I filled the bottle with Dawn. Next year, I’ll just use one of those Miracle Gro fertilizer dispenser tools for the hose, and fill it with Dawn. I’m now able to spray the little bastards in the eves, while standing on the ground.

    Reply
    • My husband purchased some spray that hooks to water hose From home depot sprayed the entire side of our house and they have been dropping dead for three days straight after one spray. Works way better than dish detergent.

      Reply
      • Wow, that sounds like some deadly stuff! Thanks for posting the info.

      • Just made it home the product is called amdro quick kill and he sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the house. Hope this helps…

      • They gather on the side of the house, outside my 3 year old daughter’s room, so I’d be hesitant to use the Amdro. If the bugs can get into her room, so too can the fumes from the Amdro.

    • I used the hose+bottle attachment with soap too. Sadly, it’s only temporary. It kills whatever it comes in contact with, but the soap residual won’t kill anything afterwards. I’m not even entirely sure that it impacts the eggs they lay everywhere. I got to walking around the backyard with a steel hair brush crushing eggs wherever I could see them (with my son in the background begging me to shoot hockey pucks with him. I became consumed by boxelders!). I eventually gave in and bought a pesticide that also killed with residual. But after a heavy rainfall, they were back a couple of weeks after. It was an endless summer. The cold is coming in now, and I’m hoping (praying) that they’re dead, and not multiplying in the cracks or beneath the siding. I’m also really hoping that this was a one time environmental phenomenon where I live (Toronto) which was preceded by an unusually warm winter. Hoping for a brutally cold and long winter this year, which will hopefully prevent their return and ensure their demise!

      Reply
  26. What’s the best way to kill the eggs? I’m wondering for the springtime when I’m sure they will be back in large numbers because we have been battling them all summer. It’s been horrible. With young children I’m not comfortable using an insecticide, but the dish soap has only been somewhat helpful, because we have sprayed them at least 15 times this fall and they are still not gone. It seems like they are always sunning themselves on our house and gathering on our front porch (trying to get inside i’m assuming – which they have). I hate them with a passion. I try to keep a very clean house and seeing them on the wall just about kills me.

    Reply
    • I hate to say it, but by the end of the summer, I resorted to an insecticide. Prior to that, I power washed the yard and the house with a soap mixture and crushed the eggs wherever I saw them with a broom. It was a temporary fix, really just population control at that point. I became obsessed, and couldn’t even enjoy the yard with the kids.

      So, I did my research and settled on Ortho Home Defence Max (Pull-N-Spray, Battery Powered – http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/ortho-home-defense-max-pull-n-spray-5-l-battery-powered-0598867p.html#srp ). It seems like a relatively safe option (key word being relative).

      I watched some videos on the most effective ways to spray the outside of the house and yard. And over the summer, I came to understand their behaviour. I waited until around sunset when the kids and the neighbour’s kids were in bed and the wind was low. I made sure to spray all the known areas and the surfaces on which the sun travelled throughout the course of the day, and also cracks and entry points into the house’s siding, and every single doorway and window (both from the outside and the inside, just around the window frames.

      It reduced the population considerably, and left a residual behind that was killing them for weeks, and it kills their eggs. Sadly, after a heavy rainfall, the residual would wash off and if not aggressive and back at it with the spray, they’ll come back. We’ve had a very mild fall here in Toronto, and winter seems to be taking its time. It’s November and 18 degrees out (64 F), and they’re back! They’re resilient, and I think insecticide is ultimately the best approach when you realize that they’re more than just a nuisance, and their eggs are too numerous to take care of yourself.

      And a warning: They lay their eggs EVERYWHERE. My kids, without me knowing, brought their scooters into the house yesterday after having left them in the yard for the week. When I noticed, I panicked and quickly turned them over, to find the entire underlining of the scooters covered in eggs. Thankfully none seemed to have hatched inside.

      Watch out!

      Reply
  27. Apologies for the redundant posts…but I cannot stress how horrible these insects are and just how terribly they impacted our quality of life this past summer!

    Reply
    • Yes, they have impacted us a great deal too this summer. I stopped having my toddler play in the backyard because of them! I had to take her to parks all the time. The little red babies were all over her play structure/slide and they just give me the creeps! Now that they are all over the house and siding outside, and the doors it makes it hard to even get in and out of the house. It’s completely ridiculous. When we get packages on the porch – i.e. baby diapers and food, etc. they are sitting on my packages. I can’t stand it! We are outgrowing this house anyways and with these bugs I am seriously considering moving.

      There is a boxedelder tree right next to the property line next door and I think that’s mostly were they are coming from. We’ve offered to our neighbors to pay to have it cut down and they refuse. (saying it’s their only source of shade which is completely untrue because they have tons of trees in their yard and they are literally never outside anyways. I saw them once outside this whole past summer).

      Reply
      • Terrible. I feel for you! Collect a colony of the bugs and let them loose on your neighbour’s windowsill. Just kidding…maybe, not really.

      • Yes!! I thought about trying to catch some to release on their window. My problem was, it was night time and the bugs are only out during the day! I’ve only seen them have the window open that one time. Hahaha, maybe I should collect some and wait and see if they open it again 😉

    • Oh and get this – our neighbors had their front window open last night – no screen or anything. It kills me that they can leave a window open and I can barely get in and out of my house without the darn bugs coming in. The bugs are never on their house.

      Reply
      • Unbelievable! My elderly mother had to cover her air conditioning unit early this year because the critters kept invading.

      • Yeah, it really is crazy because they come from the neighbors tree, so I don’t understand how none of the bugs go to their house. They are all on my house!! I took my squirt bottle out and killed about 20-25 yesterday. If they stayed outside the house, then fine. But no, of course they manage to get in!! I found one on my toddler’s crib. I almost died.

  28. I hate these fucking things. I have a 55gal aquarium and I thought it would be good sport to drop them in and watch my fish devour them. It turns out animal won’t eat them because of a pungent taste. They don’t benefit plants either. As far as I’m concerned they don’t merit existence.

    Reply
  29. Does anyone know why they were especially bad last summer/fall? I’m wondering if they will be as prevelant this year? They have found ways to overwinter in our house, I am finding a couple each day now it seems. I have found their excrament in a couplew places too, such as my daughters Bumbo seat! Needless to say, I threw that thing out!

    Reply
  30. Im in Michigan and live in a semi-rural area. Next door neighbor had a box elder tree near the lot line. Finally convinced him to remove the tree near the sunny side of the house 5 years ago (I paid for it) I still kill at least 50 a day inside my house. There are still thousands on the south side when its sunny. I spray soapy water 3 times a day after work. Tried diametacious earth plus soapy water spray. This only reduces them, and does not solve the problem.

    Need a better idea!
    -mark

    Reply

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