Jeepers creepers: It's a box elder bug boom

5:11 PM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Chances are box elder bugs are creeping into a space near you this fall.

The black and orange pests congregate on sunny spaces and many are moving indoors all across Minnesota.

University of Minnesota Extension Entomologist Jeff Hahn says it's an above average year for the bugs, and even he isn't immune. He's had them in his home and in the entomology building at the St. Paul campus.

"What are they good for? Not a lot of things in terms of human values," he said.

Hahn says box elder bugs are harmless, but generally considered a nuisance. He says he's been fielding calls and emails as the bugs have climbed to greater numbers compared to past years. He said this summer's weather is to blame.

"When we have hot and dry summers, that usually adds up to a larger population of box elder bugs come fall," he said. "It's in their best interest to find somewhere safe and sheltered to spend the winter."

Many of them have even chose KARE 11 studios as their winter home. Web producer Katie Schutrop has caught many of the visitors crawling over her hands as she works.

"I had one dive bomb into my eyeball which was really traumatizing," she said.

Hahn recommends homeowners seal spaces outside the home to prevent the bugs from moving in, and then follow up with an insecticide.

"Especially on south and west that is where sun shines most, and where they will congregate around windows and doors and rooflines. It looks like we might have a long warm fall, and if we do, there are more opportunities for them to get in," said Hahn.

The bugs are less active on cooler days, but if they get into your home, they will be quick to reappear if the temperatures warm up again. Hahn says contrary to popular belief, they do not reproduce inside your home during the winter.

"When will you see the end of them? When it gets cold and stays cold, at least outside," he said.

Hahn says while box elders could be abundant in 2012, it still won't be as severe as 1988, which was the last record year after a hot, dry summer.

To learn more about box elder bugs, and how you can get rid of them, read the University of Minnesota Extension factsheet.

Many KARE 11 viewers wrote in with their own remedies, and say they've had luck keeping box elders at bay by spraying them with a mix of water and Dawn dish soap. The mixture quickly kills the bugs.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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