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Pest Update

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BOXELDER BUGS AND OTHER COMMON NUISANCE PESTS One sure sign that cooler weather is one its way is the annual invasion of homes and offices by insects. Although dozens of different pests come in looking for places to hide, the most common are elm leaf beetles and boxelder bugs. Elm leaf beetles can become a serious nuisance as they enter homes to overwinter. Although the beetles do not feed or reproduce inside the home, they become a nuisance as they crawl in and around windows and other furnishings. Masses of beetles seem to crawl out of the woodwork to aggravate you and me. Boxelder bugs are common nuisance insects from mid summer through fall and during the following spring. They breed on female boxelder trees. Their feeding damage is largely confined to boxelders, but occasionally they move to other plants but rarely do significant damage. Boxelder bugs can stain draperies and light colored surfaces and produce an unpleasant odor when crushed. They do not bite people nor do they damage house plants. They have a nasty habit of congregating in large numbers on the sides of buildings and eventually moving inside the home. As temperatures cool they congregate on the buildings and move in through cracks and holes in the foundation, siding, or around doors and windows. They are looking for a dry, sheltered place to spend the winter. Control of both of these pests is best done in the spring while they are young and feeding on the trees. Strategic removal of certain trees can help control the pests. Elm leaf beetles feed primarily on Siberian elms which are often a nuisance tree. Boxelder bugs feed on the seedpods of the female boxelder trees and seldom develop sufficient numbers to be a nuisance unless female boxelder trees are in the neighborhood. Often the best solution is to wait for them to go away. A caulking gun is one of the best preventative measures that I know of. Insects move through very tiny openings, so check the caulking around all doors and windows and around foundations, utility pipes, or cracks. High-grade caulk lasts for many years and is available in various colors to match siding, concrete, or window frames.

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