Boxelder bugs are pests named after the tree they like to live and feed on. They are not dangerous to people or pets but can still cause you issues if they decide to spend the winter in your home, especially as they live in large groups. If you wind a boxelder bug infestation in your home, how do you get rid of them?
Luckily, it is reasonably easy to get rid of boxelder bugs using natural scents that repel them. So what smells do boxelder bugs hate? Continue reading to find out what smells boxelder bugs hate and how you can use the smells to keep the bugs out of your home naturally.
What Are Boxelder Bugs?
Boxelder bugs are a type of flying insect mostly found in the western parts of Canada and the United States. However, you can find them wherever their favorite trees, the box elders grow. In the spring and summer, they live and feed in female boxelder trees but as the weather cools, they look for shelter, which may be in your home.
You can identify boxelder bugs from their body shape and markings. When fully grown, a boxelder bug is about 0-5 inches long. They have black or brown bodies with orange or red stripes on their backs.
What Smells Do Boxelder Bugs Hate?
While insecticides are effective in outdoor pest control, they can be ineffective when used inside your home. When boxelder bugs move indoors during the colder months, they seek shelter in the crevices and cracks in houses and other warm buildings. These spots can be hard to treat with insecticides.
A much better way to deal with boxelder bugs is to prevent them from finding shelter in your home in the first place and this is where smells they hate are useful. Here is a list of smells you can use.
Cedar can be used in many ways to deter boxelder bugs. You can get cedar balls, blocks, or sachets that you can place in strategic spots around your home. The use of cedar is not just limited to indoors. If you have boxelder trees, you can hang the cedar products from their branches to drive the bugs elsewhere.
Cinnamon and Cloves
Both cinnamon and cloves are great at preventing insects. They will work on a range of pests, including wasps and silverfish as well as boxelder bugs. You can sprinkle cinnamon or cloves in areas where boxelder bugs are most likely to enter your home. Alternatively, you can make a spray with essential oils containing these smells.
Scents such as lemongrass and citronella have properties that repel bugs and not just boxelder bugs, but a range of other bugs, too, including mosquitoes. In warm climates, you can grow these plants. In cooler climates, you can use essential oils made with lemongrass and citronella or burn candles with citrus scents.
Eucalyptus is a strong scent and can overwhelm the sense of smell of boxelder bugs. If you live in Florida or California, you may be able to grow eucalyptus because it is a tropical plant. Outside those states, you can opt for eucalyptus essential oil.
People usually use lavender for its calming properties. It can help you sleep better and relieve stress. However, for bugs, including the boxelder, lavender is a repulsive odor. Lavender will work either as a plant or essential oil. If you grow lavender in your garden, it can even prevent boxelder bugs from coming near your garden.
Boxelder bugs can be repelled by any minty smells. While most people find the smell of spearmint or peppermint fresh and invigorating, for bugs, it is an overpowering smell. You can grow mint outdoors or indoors. Alternatively, you can get various essential oils such as peppermint oil. Tea tree oils will also work well.
Thyme is a strong-smelling herb that will be too overwhelming for the boxelder bugs. It masks all other smells for them, meaning they cannot find food or mates. You can grow thyme or sprinkle it dried around door frames and on window sills or make a DIY bug spray with thyme essential oil.
How and When to Use Smells to Deter Boxelder Bugs?
When you are using natural smells to prevent boxelder bugs from moving into your home for winter, focus on areas where they might enter your home. These areas include window frames, doorways, vents in your kitchen and bathroom, and any pipes that lead outside.
The best time to use boxelder bug repellent smells is in the late summer or early fall because this is when they begin to look for a place to shelter during the winter. Sometimes, you might see them in large numbers on south-facing walls because they are seeking the warmest spots. If you see them, you know it is time to act.
What Attracts Boxelder Bugs?
The prime attraction for the boxelder bugs is boxelder trees but they are not the only trees boxelder bugs live and feed in. The boxelder bugs will also live in trees such as maple trees, ash trees, and silver trees. They feed on newly sprouted leaves or seeds.
If you have trees that boxelder bugs choose to live in, consider growing the herbs they hate around the trees. This will help to keep the trees free from boxelder bugs and away from your home. Alternatively, you can hang, for example, cedar or citrus sachets from the trees.
Signs of a Boxelder Bug Infestation
Since the boxelder bug is not a destructive pest, how do you know you have an infestation? When they are in your home, they will not feed on your property or lay eggs. However, they can stain your fabrics and walls with their excrement, which is bright red. They will also let off a foul odor when they feel threatened.
Should You Kill Boxelder Bugs?
Driving boxelder bugs away or preventing them from entering your home in the first place is preferable to killing them. This is because they release a strong, disgusting smell when killed that can attract other, more destructive pests such as carpet beetles into your home.
If you first notice the boxelder bugs in your home close to spring or summer, you might choose to let them simply leave your home. When they have fresh food outside, they will all exit your home in favor of the trees outside. Once they are gone, get your preventative methods ready before the weather cools again in the fall.
Other Methods for Getting Rid of Boxelder Bugs
As well as using the natural scents that boxelder bugs hate, there are other methods that will work on boxelder bugs. You can use any of the methods on their own or in combination with the scents for the best results.
Homemade Bug Spray with Essential Oils
Making a bug spray is easy. All you need is a spray bottle, essential oils with a scent the bugs hate, cayenne pepper, and water. Mix the ingredients in the spray bottle and give it a shake. Spray the mixture on the bugs if you see them or the areas they inhabit. Note that the spray will kill the existing bugs as well as prevent them from coming back.
Dish Soap Spray
Another spray that will work on the boxelder bugs is a simple liquid dish soap mixed with water. Make and shake the mixture in the spray bottle and spray on areas of bug activity. The soapy water will kill them on contact.
White Vinegar Spray
The final spray mix uses white vinegar with water. Unlike the first two bug sprays, it will not kill the bugs only repel them. So if you prefer not to kill them, this is a better option for you. Not killing them also means that your home will not be filled with the foul smell emitted by the dying bugs.
Another method you can use if you know where the bugs are is to use a vacuum cleaner. Simply suck them into the vacuum cleaner bag and dispose outside of your home. However, while this method will get rid of the existing bugs, it will not prevent them from coming back so combine this with a preventative method.
If you have a Boxelder bug infestation in your home, there are several methods you can use to deal with them. While some methods will kill the bugs, others will repel them. The best thing to do is to use the smells boxelder bugs hate to prevent them from entering your home at all.
We hope that in this article you have found a method to keep boxelder bugs away. If you have any questions about what smells boxelder bugs hate, you can write them in the comments section.