Bugity, Bugity, Bugity

There’s a race going on at the screen door to my house. It’s me – and my backdoor guests – against the bugs. Boxelder bugs.

They are everywhere. On the door, on the window screens, all over the window wells, crawling along the top of my chain-link fence, on the steps, on the siding and in the air – everywhere!

So, on these nice days of fall when I’d love to open up the windows and let the fresh air in,

I keep them closed and locked. I’ve already learned my lesson. One window left open overnight with an unnoticed crawl space between the screen and the window frame resulted in dozens of the creepy, crawly critters getting in where they don’t belong.

They were found crawling across my computer desk (one endured a pretty good shriek from me after it landed on my fingers while I was typing), creeping across the floor and buzzing and bouncing around the light bulbs. It took several days before I finally got the population exterminated, wasting dozens of Puffs tissues in the process.

Now, I’m trying to keep them out by not leaving the back door open for any longer than I have too. Still, a few unlucky critters have found their way in.

Last week, my Mom stopped by and, as we were talking in the kitchen, I noticed a boxelder bug creepily crawling along her shoulder, headed right for her face.

“Oops, there’s a bug!” I said as I reached for the roll of paper towel. “Darn things!”

They’re so pesky that on Saturday, as I carried groceries into the house, a boxelder bug somehow made it into the hole I poked in the plastic wrapping around the toilet paper. After I’d put some of my things away, I returned to the kitchen to find a bug crawling in between the plastic and the rolls.

Before I could get to it, the pesky thing decided to take a stroll down the circular tubing.
I wasn’t about to let it take up residence to die and decay in the package. So, there I was, shaking and slapping the package in hopes the bug would fall out. It did, and I had a piece of paper towel waiting.

Every year, I think the population of boxelder bugs doubles in my back yard. When I was a kid, I remember seeing them around the farm, but never like this.

I decided to do a little Internet research about boxelder bugs and their life span, and in doing so I discovered a page written by the University of Minnesota. Turns out, the bugs aren’t a serious problem every year. It appears they are most abundant during hot, dry summers when followed by warm springs.

Yep, that pretty much describes what we lived through here in southwest Minnesota this year.

The U of M site said boxelder bug populations were high in 1988, 1987, 1978, 1977, and 1975. They were also abundant in 1958, 1949, and the hot dry years of 1936 and 1935. I think they can now add 2012 to the list.

I also learned – if not because I experienced it firsthand – that spraying the pesky bugs does little to eradicate the population, especially when there is a food source like a boxelder tree nearby (aka in the neighbor’s yard). Like the Energizer bunny, they keep going and going and growing.

7 Responses

  1. Oh man. I remember when they were everywhere near our house. We too had a boxelder tree in our front yard, and they just got everywhere.

    They still creep me out.

  2. Julie Buntjer

    Well, Kari, I think I finally have a solution. A kind reader called in this morning to recommend I put baby powder around the foundation of my house – any brand, cheap stuff works too. Apparently the bugs get choked out by the powder, and take it back to their nests to choke out the babies. She’s done this faithfully since reading about it in an article, and says she no longer has them “bugging” her.
    After spending about $15 for two bottles of spray that did nothing to control the population of boxelder bugs long term, it’s definitely worth a try!

  3. Cloey

    Wow, baby powder? Wish I knew that before I called the exterminator! Our box elder bug problem was horrendous two years ago. I would kill atleast 50 inside the house on any day!! After we started spraying around the foundation, we have NONE! They are just the most annoying little buggers ever!

    1. Julie Buntjer

      Well, it’s cheap enough that I’m going to give the baby powder a try. I may have to write a follow-up blog on the results.

  4. I agree, they’re so awful. I haven’t gotten too many in the house but I’ve been RUNNING in the front door and hollering at the kids to “SHUT THE DOOR!” Darn bugs are driving me to hollering. Not good.

    1. Julie Buntjer

      I was sitting in the La-Z-Boy tonight, minding my own business and reading a good book, when I felt something crawling on my leg … a boxelder bug, of course! I’ll be glad when the cold weather comes and they disappear, although that may mean finding more in the house. Ish!

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