A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Those bugs: Back for the umpteenth year

Written February 12th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Climbing up an outside wall: A boxelder bug in action Saturday.

Because it has been mild and sunny for a couple of days, this is a good time to check on that old nuisance around mid-valley homes: Boxelder bugs.

The nice weather has brought these little critters out from their wintertime hiding places. They like to be warm, so they come out and take in the sun on south-facing walls.

For more than 40 years that I know of, people around here have occasionally asked how to combat the little pests. Now the internet is full of advice on that point in both video and text.

One bit of advice is the same as it was years ago, before there was an internet or YouTube. Put a little splash of liquid dish soap into a squirt bottle, add water, and spray the bugs outside your house.

In this video by the Utah State University Extension, the presenter explains that the soap breaks down the bugs’ exoskeleton and they die. The outside of your house will get a little soapy, but you avoid chemical pesticides.

If boxelder bugs have gotten inside, which often happens, you can vacuum them up. If you have an old-fashioned vacuum that still requires paper bags, seal the bag in plastic and put it in the freezer overnight to make sure the bugs die.

With a bagless vacuum, you’ll have to devise some other way to dispatch them.

Or you can just wait until spring, when the bugs usually leave on their own to feed on the developing seeds of any nearby boxelder trees or maples.

It would be nice if these bugs had a natural enemy that would keep their numbers under control. But they don’t. They have an unpleasant odor that  serves as their defense.

Boxelder infestations sometimes follow hot and dry summers. Maybe that explains why we’re seeing so many now. (hh)

A boxelder bug and its shadow on the afternoon of Feb. 12, 2022.




12 responses to “Those bugs: Back for the umpteenth year”

  1. Barry N. Libbs says:

    The Ole Stink Bug

  2. Bob Woods says:

    Hasso, there’s another way to deal with them bugs. The Box Elder Bug Blues:


  3. Hasso Hering says:

    There were a few comments here that went way beyond the subject. I should not have posted them in the first place, and when they kept coming I thought the hell with it and took them all down. (hh)

  4. Adam says:

    What bugs me more than anything else these days is that some folks feel that all subject matter warrants a political attack. Once upon a time we were able to have constructive discussions that included a genuine desire to find common ground or an opportunity to learn something new.

    My 25-year career took me to every county in the State. During that time, I learned a lot from folks who had different values. I learned a lot about myself while listening to them at their dinner table. Interestingly enough, they like most of us in Oregon don’t like box elder bugs either. Common ground is there if you look for it

  5. Carey Shannon says:

    These are NOT stink bugs, as some of you commented. These are actually more beneficial than anyone would think. They devour spider mites….on indoor cannibas. Don’t tend to fly up into the lights to commit suicide like ladybugs. I have tried everything and these fellas were the ticket !!! So, if you grow indoor and have spider mite problems (who doesn’t) enlist these “pests” to help you out…organically !!! I kid you not.

    • Brock Lee says:

      Isn’t “indoor cannibas” going “way beyond the subject”?

      Hasso, your standards on commenting seem rather arbitrary, dare I say discriminatory (prejudicial between different categories of people)?

  6. James Engel says:

    Awww folks, I think they have been here way longer than we have.

    While being allowed on my soap box…Have you donated to the Cumberland Church building fund….and why not???


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