Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image This boxelder bug was found on a residential fence in Tooele. Contrary to popular belief, boxelder bugs are not a threat to plants, trees or homes.

March 15, 2012
Boxelder bugs a nuisance, not a threat

Boxelder bugs are known by many names: maple bugs, zugs and garage beetles. They come from the Order of Hemiptera, which means true bugs.

Many people believe boxelder bugs are a threat to plants, trees and houses, but this is untrue. Boxelder bugs are harmless and do not bite. Their diet consists mainly of tree sap from oak, box elder, maple, ash and a variety of fruit trees. Although boxelders sometimes feast on leaves, it absolutely does not harm the tree.

In the winter, boxelder bugs seek warmth and hibernate in the walls of homes. They remain dormant, and do not disturb or eat anything in the house. When late spring arrives, boxelders immediately leave the house in search of food. Next, they release a scent that attracts thousands of other boxelders. This is how they find mates.

As a defense tactic, boxelders possess a stinky liquid, which is highly repulsive to predators. When threatened, this fluid warns enemies to stay back. Another amazing tactic is that boxelders can fly two miles at a time without stopping.

Highly attracted to light, boxelders will usually enter a house only if doors or windows are left open. Because they congregate in large masses, boxelder bugs are considered a nuisance pest. The best way to manage them, however, is by prevention, not pesticides. Take active measures to keep them from entering your home by replacing damaged windows and screens.

When found indoors, be kind. Simply place them outside unharmed if the weather is warm. If it is winter, ignore their presence and pretend they are a temporary pet. Remember, when active, they do not stay indoors more than a few days, and do not reproduce inside.

Addie T. Lindsay is 15 years old. She is a writer and accomplished photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. Her Sioux Indian name is Hissing Viper. She can be contacted at Addietl@live. com.

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