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Posted on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Try these 5 tips to prevent and remove box elder bugs

By Keith A. Paul


Photo by: American Pest Control


I have a problem with box elder bugs living under my aluminum and vinyl siding. Is there anything I can do about this? When the weather warms, they are clustering all over my house, and even find ways to come inside. They leave a reddish brown stain on the siding (from their poop?).

I have tried a soap spray, insecticides, and collecting them with my Shop Vac, and all work for a time, but there are so many it's almost impossible to keep up.

I live in the country with many trees in the yard and in the fields around us.

Any remedy? Thanks.
-Tom, Ann Arbor area
About two weeks ago, I brought up the same question while on our radio show, because I too, have quite a few elder bugs sharing my home. Since I just moved to the country from living in a subdivision, I was unaware of how to solve this issue; therefore, I asked the listeners for help.

There was an enormous amount of help from the listeners with great advice, especially from a husband-and-wife team who were former exterminator business owners.

Although they can be a nuisance, they are considered safe and do not pose a health risk. Here were some of the tips.

1. If you use dish soap, be sure it contains a degreaser. This will stick to their wings and prevent them from flying. Not immediately, but in a day or two, you’ll notice fewer bugs.

2. Spraying insecticide specifically made for elder bugs typically can work, although I prefer the non-chemical steps. Use as directed, because it’s often over-sprayed and can be dangerous.

3. Using a Shop Vac is helpful, but it was suggested that you take the bugs out of the vacuum and dump them into a garbage bag, then stomp them. The listeners, my radio co-host, Kevin, and I had a good laugh over this tip.

4. Remove any nearby female box elder and Acer saccharinum trees (silver maples), as this is where they live except in winter. This step should be your last resort, as I believe the more trees we have, the better we leave our planet for our children.


Photo by:

5. Caulk or cover any open crevices around windows, siding and eaves. Carefully search for exposed rotting wood, which can allow them to tunnel into your home. Extra large cracks can be filled with a Caulk Back Rod or, as the exterminators suggested on air, a piece of blue furnace filter, prior to caulking.

I also spoke with Joel Jerore, district manager from Rose Pest Solutions in Dearborn, regarding these pesty neighbors.

Jerore explains they will find places such as in eaves and under the siding, to live through the winter, typically on the south and west sides of your home. Since the insects leave a pheromone attractant, the treatment is best applied in late August and September when they are looking to find a place to hibernate. They usually leave the home in the spring to nest in the trees.

Paul is a State of Michigan Licensed Builder. Paul serves as president and founding member of nationally franchised HandyPro Handyman Service, servicing Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland counties. Listen to Paul every Saturday at 11 a.m. on “It’s Your Home, Let’s Talk About It” WAAM Talk 1600AM. Email questions or comments to