October 25, 2016
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Boisea trivitatta – box elder bug – commonly known as maple bug in Saskatchewan
They come marching into the house in fall. They can fly, but mostly I see them plodding up the walls, down the walls, across the ceiling, across the table, across the back of my hand. They are so light-footed that I don’t feel them; I just happen to look down and there it is – way too close for comfort.
They are a parasite of the Manitoba Maple, or box elder tree, in the summer. Then in winter they come looking for a warm place to stay. They do little harm to the maples; when they come into the house for winter they don’t bite, eat, breed, buzz or smell. They are actually cute little guys, one could grow to enjoy having one around for its picturesque appearance.
But you never have just one. They settle by thousands in the wall cavities of older homes. It wouldn’t even be so bad if they would stay there, but they feel the warmth inside the house and come out to investigate. I patrol the house with the hand vac several times a day and collect a couple dozen. The next day there are a couple dozen more.
They lie low in the dead of winter, though one or two might show up on a sunny day. In the spring they are gone and you never notice them on the maple trees in summer. In the fall they swarm on the sunny side of houses, looking for a place to come in.
They are so much a part of our life here on the prairies that it seems there should be a song about them. Did Stompin’ Tom ever write one? If he didn’t, somebody else should.