How to Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs Outside

By Lisa Wampler

Boxelder bugs don't hurt anyone or damage trees or landscape plants. But the bugs, hosted by the box elder tree (Acer Negundo) can be a nuisance when large infestations take over living spaces. The bugs congregate on patios and light-painted surfaces in south- and west-facing areas warmed by the track of the sun. Mass manual killing is unpleasant because the bugs emit a stinky odor when crushed; other insecticide-free options, including habitat removal, are less gruesome.

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Step 1

Remove any boards, leaves or rock piles from your yard. Boxelder bugs love these types of hiding places.

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Step 2

Eliminate host trees. Although other types of trees may occasionally be infested, the box elder tree, perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 to 10, provides the main food source for the bug that bears its name. Rapid growers, box elders are known for weak wood, which can cause unexpected, hazardous branch drops. A profuse annual shower of samaras, or pods, that litter surrounding ground, encourages new trees to take root. Consult a tree removal company that offers free estimates.

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Step 3

Aim a forceful stream of water from a garden hose end-nozzle set to jet directly at any boxelder bugs observed on tree trunks, sidewalks or patios to wash them away.

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Step 4

Pour a well-aimed stream of boiling water on clusters of boxelder bugs but remember the treatment will kill anything it touches, including desirable plants. To protect yourself avoid steam and splashes as well as direct contact with the boiling water.