Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 25, 2014

New roommates less than welcome

By Michael Leach, Ledger sports editor | Mar 22, 2012

My current assortment of roommates is among the worst, and this is coming from a guy who once lived in the University of Iowa dorms.

My new roomies are only less of a nuisance than my first, a student UI paired me up with freshman year. He was a Chicagoan, openly expressed a desire to be called “Dan the Man,” and was like living with an unfunny John Belushi character 24/7. Like Dan, my new roommates laze around all day, keep irregular hours and would probably eat just about anything.

The difference? My new roommates are black and red, have antennae, and aren’t even human at all. The Boisea trivittata, more commonly referred to as boxelder bugs, have recently decided the phrase “Mi casa es su casa” applies to them.

Remember Fairfield’s sudden influx of Asian Beetles several years ago? Imagine that endless stream in your house, but multiply the size of each Asian Beetle by about three and you’ve got my current living arrangement with the boxelder bug.

I had no clue what these creatures were when they began cropping up a few weeks back, and when their numbers grew to the dozens, a simple Google search of “black and red bugs” answered all my questions.

The half-inch long bugs are apparently a nuisance in homes throughout North America, so some Ledger readers should be able to sympathize with my situation. The bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts, which sounds a lot like something out of “Aliens,” but apparently these critters don’t bite. They’re mostly harmless to humans and homes, and they’re immune to bug spray, as I’ve stubbornly found out.

In fact, they seem immune to just about everything — from being thrown out windows to being vacuumed and flushed — because no matter what I do the indestructible things keep coming back. Just when I think I’ve ridded the house of them all, I find one grinning up at me from atop my Pepsi can or another crawling under a sock in my clothes hamper.

So how did they get to be such a problem, and why now?

From what I’ve gathered, even the smallest crack in a building or hole in a screen can allow these bugs entrance, and once one enters, hundreds may follow. Often, they leave maple trees at the end of fall and seek shelter to spend the cold winter months. The boxelder bugs may then overwinter in the walls of a home until the weather begins to warm up, thus causing my current situation.

Thankfully, the bugs are supposed to leave the homes on their own within a month or two.

Until that time, it seems the only defense is to stick with a patient one. After all, it works with a human roommate, so why shouldn’t it work with a party of bugs?

 

Michael Leach is sports editor for The Fairfield Ledger.

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