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Natural Home Remedy for Box Elder Bugs

Updated July 18, 2017

One little box elder bug doesn't seem like much of a problem. After all, it's just a small black beetle with orange-red stripes. But box elder bugs are social little critters, and where there's one, there's many. Fortunately, you can take natural, nontoxic steps toward ridding your house of these unwanted visitors.

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About Box Elder Bugs

Box elder bugs, also known as box elder beetles, feed mainly on the female, seed-bearing versions of their namesake tree. So, if you're having an issue with these little black beetles, you might want to reconsider that box elder tree on your property. Box elders also feed on maple trees, ash trees and low-growing vegetation and seeds.

In the fall, box elder bugs start to seek shelter and will congregate on sunny walls of your home. It only takes the narrowest of cracks for them to weasel their way inside your warm and toasty home--the beetle equivalent of heading south for the winter.

While box elder bugs don't bite and don't damage property, their droppings can cause stains. And, harmless or not, nobody wants hoards of bugs in their home.

Prevention Methods

Prevention is your best defence when it comes to box elder bugs. Repair or replace window and door screens, seal openings such as cracks or the space around your cable wire, move piles of wood or other items from the base of your house (they're tempting wintering locations for box elder bugs), and install door sweeps or rubber liners on the bottoms of all entry doors (including your garage door).

If box elder bugs are congregating on an exterior wall of your home, use your hose to spray them away. A hose isn't going to keep them from coming back, but this measure may minimise the number that enter your home.

If you're interested in a long-term prevention method, consider planting a tree that will eventually provide shade on the sunniest walls of your home. Box elder bugs tend to swarm on the sunniest, warmest walls, so a shade tree can help. (Just don't plant a box elder, maple or ash tree!) A retractable sun shade can also help.

Ridding Your Home of Box Elder Bugs

Once inside, there aren't many treatment options. Vacuum the bugs as you see them and dispose of them outside. The more box elder bugs you remove from your home in the fall, the less you have to deal with later.

Box elder bugs will try to enter your home during the fall, but you may see some of them emerge during the winter as the heat of your home confuses them. In spring, the bugs that survived the winter in your home will emerge again in an effort to get outside. Box elder bugs will not reproduce in your home--any bugs you see during the winter or the spring entered your home in the fall.

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About the Author

A native Midwesterner, Maggie Vink has been writing for more than 15 years. After a stint as a software industry technical writer, Vink began writing about her passions including health/wellness, parenting and DIY. She studied journalism at Oakland University and health information technology at Davenport University.

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