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Infestation of boxelder bugs plaguing Utah towns

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SALT LAKE CITY — Boxelder bugs are a big nuisance for many Utahns, and some experts say they're seeing them out in some of the largest numbers in several years.

Entomologists at Utah State University say the reason for the influx of boxelder bugs could be the combination of a mild winter, warm summer and the wet weather from last year, which all adds up to a very buggy fall.

The little black bugs seem to be coming in droves. And in the small town of Portage, which is just below the Utah-Idaho border, residents can't seem to get rid of them.

They've just been awful this fall. They're in your food, they're in your house, they're everywhere, they just crawl everywhere.

–Keith Wadman

"They've just been awful this fall," Portage resident Keith Wadman said. "They're in your food, they're in your house, they're everywhere, they just crawl everywhere."

"My windowsill is all covered with them," added resident Nick Tree.

The population in Portage is just a few hundred people, so the bugs easily outnumber the residents.

"Yes, there's more bugs than there are people," said Lisa Bryant.

Tips to prevent boxelder bugs from entering your home
  • Caulk or seal openings or foundation cracks, windows, and around plumbing, gas, or electrical conduits. Weather strip around doors and windows.
  • Screen off attic vents and repair broken windows and screens. Expanding-foam sealants may be of value in sealing hidden recesses and other areas that are not readily visible.
  • Simply vacuum any boxelder bugs that remain because completely sealing the building may be impossible.
  • Avoid squishing adults because they can leave a stain on fabrics and can release a foul odor.

Credit: Utah State University

Residents say they're used to seeing the boxelder bugs at this time of the year, but few can remember a fall that bugged them as much.

Utah State University entomologist Diane Alston said, unfortunately, there is no magic repellant to keep boxelder bugs away.

"Whatever you use to remove them from your house one day, they'll be many more to replace them the next day," Alston said.

The only real repellant will be the colder temperatures, and many of the residents of Portage are holding out for that. Until the temperatures drop, the best way to get rid of the bugs is some kind of insecticide.

"The only redeeming quality they have is that they don't bite," Wadman said.


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Mike Anderson


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