Boxelder bugs are back

North Battleford residents might notice the boxelder insects have returned when they are out tidying their yards for spring.

Retired professor and entomologist Cedric Gillott said the beetle-like insects are "perfectly harmless," but are active this time of the year as they emerge from hibernation. Although the insects can be an annoyance, Gillott said they don't carry any diseases.

"We're still going to see a lot of them," he said. "Like many other insects these bugs cycle in terms of their population numbers."

Gillott said over about seven to nine years the population of the insects will build up and then gradually start to decrease due to disease, weather, and other factors. When conditions are cool and wet, there is more likelihood of disease having a negative impact on the insects.  

"There will be a number of years where we don't see any," he said. "At the moment let's just say we're at the top of the hill. It's going to eventually die down. There may be another two or three years before we see an obvious change."

Also known as maple bugs, the boxelder insects often feed on maple or ash trees. The female boxelders lay their eggs on the twigs of the trees as the leaves are emerging.

Gillott said the insects are also often seen in the fall as well, as they are looking for a place to hibernate for winter. He said there isn't much anyone can do to get rid of the boxelders from their property, other than applying a soap solution or an insecticide. People can also vacuum or sweep them up.  

"We just have to sort of accept them and they will eventually go away of their own accord," Gillott said. 


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