Box elder bugs (Boisea trivittatus) are fairly common insects and will likely be visually familiar to most people, but eradicating them can be a lengthy task. Adult box elder bugs are approximately 1/2 inch long, with orange or reddish markings/stripes along the area directly behind the head, and wings that fold into an X shape across the back. They are harmless and pose no threat to humans via any sort of poison or venom. They can, however, be a nuisance if they gain entry into your home, as they tend to congregate in large numbers and can stain walls, floors, and other surfaces with excrement. They are also capable of emitting a highly unpleasant odor. The mating season for box elder bugs is in the spring, when they emerge from overwintering sites and there is an abundance of food. Nymph box elder bugs begin their maturation process in the summer, and as autumn begins they start looking for a comfortable place to spend the winter. This is most often when box elder bugs are found to be a problem in the home. If you have an infestation of box elder bugs, here are some steps you can take to rid your home of these pests.
The best way to eradicate box elder bugs is to prevent an infestation before it starts. A caulking gun, sealant, cement, or wire mesh can all be used to seal up any holes or cracks through which box elder bugs could potentially get inside. Take a walk around the perimeter of your house and look closely at areas where wires or pipes go into the home, as these are common entry points. Installing door sweeps to outside doors can also be very helpful. In order for this to be effective, repairs must be made before the end of August, when box elder bugs begin looking for overwintering sites, beyond that point, it may be too late.
It is a judgment call whether insecticides are necessary or not. If you do choose to go the insecticide route, there are a few things to keep in mind. Generally, it is a good idea to try and limit insecticide use to the exterior of the home, before the bugs make it inside. If you have a history of infestation, or you are beginning to see inordinately large numbers of box elder bugs gathering on the outside of your home, this may be a good way to go. Again, the best time to do this is in late summer, when box elder bugs are first beginning to gather.
Once box elder bugs are found inside your home, the best method is to physically remove them, either via vacuum cleaner, or with a dust pan and broom. Once you have spotted them, you should remove them immediately, as they will release an odor that will attract other box elder bugs into your home. It is not advisable to smash them, as this will release their foul smelling odor.