Popular Herb Can Keep Boxelder Bugs Away This Fall in Minnesota
Boxelder bugs seem to be everywhere in Minnesota this fall. Did you know there's a common household herb that can keep them from bugging you too much this season?
If your house is like ours here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it's been inundated by a barrage of those black and red flying bugs, especially on warmer days. Yes, even though they're harmless, those boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittatus, if you're being all scientific) are back and showing up in huge numbers across much of Minnesota this fall.
Why are there boxelder bugs in Minnesota this fall?
Experts at the University of Minnesota Extension office say if you're seeing more of those annoying boxelders this fall, it's likely because of warm weather conditions in late August and September. They also noted that because box elder bugs are especially prevalent right now, much like they were in 2021, thanks to the drought much of the North Star State experienced again this year.
Here's why they're starting to show up: This CBS-Minnesota story says that pest management specialists at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum noted boxelder bugs seek warmth on the sides of and inside our homes over winter as the temperatures start to get cooler during the fall.
There's a handy household herb that can send box elder bugs running away
Boxelder bugs are NOT poisonous, but they do emit a bad odor when crushed and have a bitter taste if your pets bite or eat one. But there's a handy herb that will send them scurrying away. According to HouseDigest, boxelder bugs don't like the natural chemicals in sage. So if you either buy a few sage plants (or already have them planted in your garden), you're already ahead of the game.
If you don't have any sage in your garden, like me, you can make your own natural sage-based box elder spray. HouseDigest explains how:
Boil a handful of dried sage in water until the liquid darkens. Strain this infused liquid, let it cool, and pour it into a spray bottle. Your DIY sage repellent is ready to go — target areas where boxelder bugs congregate.
While boxelder bugs don't cause damage to property, but they can potentially stain surfaces. They like warm areas and are attracted to buildings with a lot of southern or western exposure-- which makes the front and side of our house and garage prime targets.
Other tips you can do to get boxelder bugs out of your house
The U of M says the best prevention is to keep boxelder bugs out of your house. They say to make repairs to openings they can get into:
- Repair or replace damaged window and door screens.
- Repair or replace damaged screens in roof and soffit vents, and in bathroom and kitchen fans.
- Seal areas where cables, phone lines, and other utility wires and pipes, outdoor faucets, dryer vents, and other objects enter buildings.
- Seal with caulk or, for larger spaces, use polyurethane expandable spray foam, copper mesh, or other appropriate sealants.
- Install door sweeps or thresholds to all exterior entry doors.
- Install a rubber seal along the bottom of garage doors.
And if boxelder bugs do get inside your house?
If boxelder bugs do get inside your house, the U says pretty much your only option is physically removing them with a vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan. It's important to note that the U doesn't recommend using a spray insecticide (it's generally not effective and can harm other pollinators) unless you have a really large infestation-- and then you'll probably want to call a professional service.
Boxelder bugs are just one of those nuisance insects that are native here in Minnesota. Thankfully, not all native insects and animals are-- some, in fact, are pretty handy. Did you know there are several animals native to the Bold North that can predict the weather? Keep scrolling to check 'em out!