Elm seed bugs return to Boise

Elm seed bugs return to Boise

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Boise is a beautiful place to call home, especially for an elm seed bug. This invasive species has been a problem for people living in older houses throughout Boise as well as on the Boise State campus since 2012.

According to Mike Dean, co-owner of Barrier Lawn & Pest, this summer was the worst in recent years.

“I probably got over 200 calls in July alone,” Dean said.

Similar to the box elder bug but smaller, these tiny creatures come by the thousands. They sneak under the seals of windows and doors and cause a fowl odor whenever they’re squashed.

Elm seed bugs reproduce between March and early April. While in infancy, they feed off of the elm seed which gives them their name. The bugs reach full maturity in early June.

For many Boise residents, this time of the summer becomes a test of patience, as many of these bugs invade homes and buildings seemingly just to annoy the residents.

“When they reach maturity is when all heck breaks loose,” Dean said. “It seems like the phone won’t stop ringing for five weeks.”

Dean says earlier this summer the Department of Agriculture released information about the elm seed bug, stating that there was nothing anyone could do about the problem. This he believes is false.

Although they sometimes invade people’s homes by the thousands, the elm seed bug population can be controlled and reduced by regular application of chemicals or by calling pest control specialists. These bugs often can be traced to a source, such as an elm tree. Application of chemicals to these spots, Dean believes, is the city’s best bet for control.

Other preventative measures include sealing up seams on the siding of houses, on windows and doors.

“It takes time, but they are controllable,” Dean said.

Another pest likely to cause problems in the future for lawns around campus and homes is the Japanese beetle.

“If it takes root in the area it will cause widespread damage,” Dean said.

According to Dean, the Japanese beetle sucks on the crowns of grass, ruining people’s lawns without warning.

The Department of Agriculture placed 3,000 green and yellow beetle traps around Boise, Meridian and Nampa this summer. This was done to keep the beetles from becoming a serious issue. Last year, these traps reportedly caught 3,000 beetles. This number is high enough for the beetles to be classified as an infestation.

So far, Dean’s office hasn’t received any calls about the Japanese beetle, which means Boise residents may have missed a blow this summer.

“When that hits people’s lawns, that’s going to be an absolute tear,” Dean said.