A Not So Informative Hub On Box Elder Bugs

In the summer, on the outside wall of our house, a collection of box elder bugs group together – usually on a wall being bathed in the sun. They group themselves in big black and red bunches. Normally, such a collection of insects would give me the creeps but the box elder bug, to me at least, seems the most inoffensive of bugs. What’s odd about these inoffensive bugs is how easily they can be killed or how hard it is to kill them if you don’t know what kills them. Why anyone would want to kill these harmless bugs is beyond me though. They don’t eat the wood of your house like carpenter ants or termites and by my way of thinking they actually use up the space that a termite or colony of carpenter ants would take up thus displacing those insects – insects you most certainly would want to kill. This makes them good bugs.

To some people bugs are bugs though and are made to be killed. Killed off until they leave a gap in the bug food chain which then proceeds to kill off populations of other insects and then those animals that eat them and then that impacts the other bigger birds or mammals that eat those animals and so on... Before you know it – what is going to be killed off is us! All because some mamby pamby bug haters hate the harmless box elder bugs. Thanks a lot.

Sadly, I know about the killing of these bugs because my mother didn’t really care for them and wanted to kill them. However, she sucked at knowing how to kill them - although, she did try. What doesn’t kill them is bug spray. What doesn’t kill them is stronger bug spray. What also doesn’t kill them is industrial strength bug spray that promises to kill all bugs period. Napalm probably does not kill them. What does kill them is Windex or soapy water.

If you kill box elder bugs with soapy water or Windex, you are a horrible person. The box elder bug is the most noble of bugs. Like we discussed earlier – they don’t eat wood. They are wonderful in this aspect of their nature of what they don’t do. They don’t bite. They don’t sting. They don’t spray you with anything. They don’t make loud noises. They don’t run quickly in disturbing multi-legged displays in a manner that freaks you out. They do group together in bunches. If you kill them for that then may PETA follow you about for the rest of your natural life - because, if you kill them you are a horrible person.

This story isn’t about how to kill them and why you are horrible, though – it really isn’t. Well, thus far it is but it isn’t the reason for why I’m writing this. Why I’m writing this is to comment on an oddity of the box elder bug. Some of them apparently never die. Instead, a small percentage of them somehow manage to sneak into the inside of your house and then the just hang around. It is now mid January and we still have about a dozen or so box elder bugs walking about the house. You wouldn't notice there are at least a dozen of them milling about just like you don't notice that a person with seven cats actually has seven cats because you only see one or two at any one time and in any one place thus making it seem like you are not in a house with a fledgling cat hoarder person but instead just a normal house with a person who has a cat or two – so is the case with the box elder bugs. You only see one or two about but I’m pretty sure there are about a dozen still alive and roaming around inside of our house.

What again is remarkable about this and them is what they don’t seem to do. They don’t seem to eat for one thing. They aren’t interested in the food in the kitchen, or our fruit or anything on any plate that you leave on the table at the edge of the bed. They don’t seem to want water. They don't want anything at all. They just sort of walk about very slowly on the walls or appear from under a picture or crawl slowly up from the heat register on the floor. They just are there. They do fly now and then but not much. They also don’t seem to die. They just exist.

I’ve started to consider them pets. The dogs like to eat them so when one draws the attention of one of the dogs I relocate that bug to a plant or move it up higher on the wall. The dogs don’t really eat them, actually – they act like they are going to eat them but then spit them out only to look at them and then try to eat them again – and they do this several times. It doesn’t seem to bother the box elder bug much. So I move the bug to a plant downstairs usually. I do that because I think maybe they would like to eat something – just a bit of leaf even. But they don’t. Somehow they manage to just move back over to one of the walls in the bathroom or hallway.

So what is the point? There is no point. Why does there always have to be a point? This is an observation and a plea to not use soapy water or Windex to kill these noble bugs. Because if you do that you are a horrible person. Do you really want to be a horrible person? So don't kill them when they do their group sunbathing congregation on the wall of your house in the summer. And leave them be even after a few of them end up living for a winter inside your house. Just leave them alone, eh? Consider them decorative or as slow moving dull pets. They are good bugs and must be useful for something. Not that I have any idea what that is.

When The Box Elder Bug Is Out Of Hand!

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Comments 16 comments

New Fan 6 years ago

Love this article and box elder bugs!!! People who kill them suck. I love your other funny stories too. That hot coffee one - that is some HOT COFFEE! LOL The poetry - not so much. But I'll read some of your other articles.

Rasta 6 years ago

Bored today?

We have those bugs too, but the stink bugs are worse. We have them everywhere outside, and we keep finding them in the house even in the middle of winter. I don't know where the hell they come from. Did you send them?!

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JBeadle 6 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for the comments NF and Rasta. I think a stink bug is a baby box elder but I'm not sure. I just know that a handful of them seem to live forever.

Dan 5 years ago

Boxelder bugs and stinkbugs are two different bugs. The Boxelder is truly a harmless bug, and the most sensitive way to remove them is to remove the food source -- likely a boxelder or maple tree. Do that, and they will go to someone else's yard.

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tom hellert 5 years ago from home

dan is right but crack open a box elder and - it stinks oh yeafor sure

JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 5 years ago from Midwest Author

We had a family of box elders inside the house last year but not this year. Not a one. Kind of odd. I don't mind them outside of the house but really would prefer they stay there.

tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 5 years ago from home


I think my cats ate a few..and they *knock wood* haven't come back


helen 4 years ago

I like your post i myself am terrified of bugs so the first one that made its way into my house i regrettably murdered then looked them up since then its a rule in my home that they stay unharmed maybe relocated back outside but unharmed :)

JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 4 years ago from Midwest Author

They are harmless but they can come in swarms and in the house that isn't much wanted... My mom was a sweetheart but had it out for those bugs! Even the ones that were outside. Never asked her why.

Peggy 4 years ago

my garage and swimming pool were completely infested with box elders, Tried windex after reading and they die in seconds. So I thought I would try soapy water since it is less expensive and I have millions. The soapy water did the same. If they were not keeping us from swimming I wouldn't care but they fall out of the tree in to the pool and no one wants to swim. Works great.

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loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

Interesting, funny and useful. You are indeed a page turner who knows how to capture the attention and keep it. I loved your delivery. A good read indeed, happy hubbing

JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 4 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks. We are in mid box elder season again too. We are not going to let so many hang with us this winter though - we've been moving them outside.

Rasta 3 years ago

We have them too, though not in the kind of numbers you wrote about. The big problem out my way are the damn stink bugs. They're EVERYWHERE. On the house, IN the house, in my coffeemaker, the kitchen cabinets, the dresser drawers, even inside the grandfather clock in the living room. And god help you if you accidentally step on one - the stink takes WEEKS to disappear. Even the cats won't go near them.


JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 3 years ago from Midwest Author

When they get into the coffee maker they have gone too far!!!!

I love Box elders bugs 2 years ago

I love boxelders. They are truly noble indeed. Good read.

JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 2 years ago from Midwest Author

I'd imagine with an alias of "I love Box elders bugs" you would like the most honorable insect! Thanks for the read and comment!

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