Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The bugs of fall...

The bugs of fall...  Before we even moved into our new home in Utah, our realtor warned us about box elder bugs.  Every fall they leave the female box elder trees (actually a kind of maple, Acer negundo) and gather in warm places – especially the south-facing sides of light-colored buildings.  Our home is painted white, and one of long walls faces due south.  The box elder bugs say “Cowabunga!” and descend upon us with great enthusiasm.  That's a bunch of them on the window at right.

They're harmless bugs.  Close up, they look a lot like the fireflies we had in New Jersey where I grew up.  They don't bite or sting, and they only smell if you disturb them, whereupon they produce copious amounts of a really stinky fluid.  The Internet is full of articles about alleged ways to get rid of them, but my neighbors tell me that all of them are hokum, and nothing really works except getting rid of box elder trees or painting your house with some color they won't like.  You can wash them off a building with a hose, but they'll be right back when it dries off.  They don't learn; you can wash them off over and over again, and they still come back (I tried :)

Our realtor told us a scary story about these bugs.  One of his neighbors decided to spray the side of his house with insecticide a few years ago, as the bugs were making his wife crazy.  The box elder bugs are quite tolerant to most insecticides, so he had to spray them with a lot of expensive, exotic insecticide – which worked, but left him with piles of dead box elder bugs along the side of his house.  So he raked up all the bug bodies, put them in a big pile, and set them on fire.  Next thing you know, box elder bug embers were flying in the evening breeze, and some of them landed on his barn.  They set his barn on fire, and it burned to the ground before anyone could get there to put it out.

Oh, my.  We won't be burning piles of box elder bugs around here!  No, siree...

No comments:

Post a Comment