For Illinois homeowners, the name of the game is repelling when trying to stop boxelder bugs from coming in. This often-mentioned method does not work.

First, it needs to be noted that boxelder bugs really pose no harmful threat to you while inside your home. These bugs won't lay eggs. They won't munch on clothes or wood. The only thing these hateful bugs do is, well, make you uncomfortable in your own home.

Boxelder Bugs (Boisea trivittata) in Illinois

Once these little six-legged bugs make it inside your place, it can get pretty difficult to get them to leave. No one would blame you if you started stomping on everyone of these things you see.

Boxelder Bug Killing Spree

Just last night, my wife was again woken up in the middle of the night, to a box elder bug crawling on her arm. That's an abrupt wake-up nobody wants. That thing crawling up your arm doesn't seem so harmless when you first feel it crawling on you in your dreams. Your subconscious built this into a horror movie creature that will be staring back at you once you open your eyes.

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Going on a bug-killing binge sounds like a pretty good way to work out some frustration and revengeful aggression, but it's not a good method to get rid of the box elder nightmare fuel situation. Plus, they give off a foul odor like a stink bug when you smash them.

There's a lot to know about box elder bugs, you should be in the know, but here's my experience with these harmless but annoying bugs.

Killing Them is Never the Answer

The name of the game here is repelling, this is the way to hate the boxelder bug back. They make life unbearable at times, so let's do the same for them.

Bye _______! (insert Samuel L. Jackson's favorite 4-syllable word).

And let's get to repelling them before they stain the curtains with their excrement. Yeah, that can happen. Here's some info I found and plan to use to try and stop the boxelder migratioon into my home.

Great Ways to Repel Boxelder Bugs with Scents They Don't Like

That heading should be:

The Followig is NOT a Great Way to Repel Boxelder Bugs

Let me share with you why I won't be trying this method again.

In 2022, I wrote

I'm so thankful to have run across a list of the scents that boxelder bugs hate including how to best use them. The bonus is that some of these scents are pleasing to have around the house. These are the 5 scents from that list that we liked the most [...]

Here are those scents we decided to try.

  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint (anything minty)
  • Lemongrass
  • Cedar

What I discovered from my reading was the importance of how you throw the scent around your house. If you're using lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, or lemongrass, use it in essential oil form in a diffuser near places the bugs are likely to enter your home. They can also be diluted in a spray bottle of water. You'll need repeated usage to be effective at driving box elders out of the house. As for using cedar, get blocks, or cedar ball sachets (cloth-scented bags) like in the photo below.


I was packed with information, several small bottles of essential oils and 6 different little spray bottles so we could try them all. We sprayed and we sprayed and we sprayed and nothing changed. These bugs were not deterred in any kind of way. I don't even think the oils even slowed them down. I will admit that our front porch and foyer smelled amazing, but the boxelder bug problem did not change.

Unless you have the mooeny to call in a professional pest control company, you'd be better off just making sure every doorway and window is as sealed as you can make it. Soapy water traps or just soapy water in a spray bottle will help capture and kill them but I'm still on the hunt for some type of repellant.

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