Box Elder Bug Invasion!

stephf(5a)October 1, 2012

So the people who live behind us have this tree. I can only assume it's a box elder tree because of the SWARM of bugs crawling all over it. The tree has to be at least 50 years old and is absolutely huge. When we look into her yard, these bugs absolutely cover every inch of every single yard toy her kids have back there. It's absolutely disgusting, and what's worse, they have made their way into our yard as well. They are all over our fence and shed (they have started to make their way inside the shed as well). In the past few days, we started spotting them at the front of our house as well (quite a ways from neighbours yard). We have caught a few on the inside of the house, but I think they are just sneaking in when we open the door as opposed to them working their way in through unsealed areas. My kids don't even want to play outside anymore, it's like something out of a horror movie. In the yard we've started spraying them with a home-made mixture of insecticidal soap, but I feel like we are fighting a losing battle. The soap is working wonders, but the next day there are just as many to be sprayed. I know that the frost will get rid of them, but I really don't want to have to deal with this year after year. What should we do? The tree that is attracting them isn't ours, and we can't control what our neighbours do (or not do) in their yard. Has anyone had to deal with this situation before?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

offer to pay for the vertical firewood removal ..


Here is a link that might be useful: this was two down from your post ..

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Steph, are these insects boxelder bugs? Anyway, in my community we have nuisance laws. Start keeping a picture or video diary. It would be helpful to your case if you could ID the tree with certainty. We can help you do that,but not without pictures of the leaves and tree.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Box Elder bugs live on the pollen from many different "Acer" tree species, are not harmful to the environemnt, people, or pets. Spraying pesticides to eliminate them may well also kill off the predators that could control them.
While sometimes it seems, in the house, there are lots of these wee buggers, I have not in all my life seen enough of them outside to present any problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Boxelder bugs

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:11AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The problem with your observations, kimmsr, is that they tend to be extremely limited. "I have never observed; I have never seen...."

We need to listen to these people. Though BEBs are not known to become major pests, if in large nembers they can become a true nuisance. Pollen is not their primary food source, but seeds. They will also ruin other tree fruits such as peaches, pears, and apples. Several thousands of these living under the siding or in the attic...and all of their poop.....pose a real health hazard.

If I lived in this situation, I would have contacted the homeowner a long time person. Ring the doorbell, stick out your paw and introduce yourself. "You sure do have a problem with those boxelder bugs, don't you? " For the neighbor, large populations constitute a real health hazard. You should be aware of that, kimnsr.

Your role is to listen and impart factual information. Not only factual, but balanced and supportive.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 8:06AM
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Thank you for your responses.

I'm not kidding when I say these bugs (and they are definitely box elder bugs) are covering our entire backyard. I'm not just talking about a few (or 50 or 100) bugs here and there. We literally have thousands of these things taking over our outdoor living space. Like I said in my original post, our kids don't want to go outside anymore. Heck, I don't even want to go outside anymore!

I can't say for sure that the tree in my neighbours yard is a box elder tree, because I am not familiar with this species of tree. It is in the middle of their yard, and even when I stand at the fence, I have a yard time getting a good look at any of the distinguishing features of the tree, besides the millions of red bugs crawling all over it. Our neighbour is a single mom with 5 kids, and while we have met and our children play together, I haven't seen her or her kids outside since the invasion began. I doubt very much that she could afford to have a tree of that size removed, and I certainly can't afford to have it removed for her.

My husband seems to think we are making a dent in the population. I think they are just finding warmer spots to hang out (ie, underneath the shingles on our roof). The whole situation really is just disgusting...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Rhizo, if you had read the link I attached to my post you, numerous times over the years, you would find what I wrote is supported by the University of California - Davis IPM people.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 6:44AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yes, kimmsr. Very informative and helpful fact sheet. But if you can't listen to and adapt to individual examples, you aren't providing much assistance to that person. I'm just suggesting that you THINK before cubbyholing these people into what is really a very narrow perception.

You could use your general information in a much more effective way.
Clearly, you've never experienced nor heard of the kind of overwhelming situation as described by our original poster. Your limited experience should not exclude the reality of others. Listen to what they are saying. It's not that difficult to sift out the "bugiphobes " from those in true distress.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 8:32AM
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