Boisea trivittata

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BoxElderBug.jpg

Boisea trivittata – Box elder bug, Boulder, Colorado.

25 Comments

These things are all over my house and my landlord won’t do any thing

They invade our yard and porch each year, late summer- early fall, I am still finding them in my house…slow in the colder weather - they don’t seem to do any harm, though - no biting or anything?

My mom would always put a glass of soapy water on windowsills in the house to keep them under control. I guess they climb in and drown when they can’t get out of the water. That doesn’t stop them from congregating in huge scrums outside though.

That is, of course, my screen on which you see the bug. I do not know of any box elders in the area, but there are a lot of other maple trees. The bugs themselves sometimes leave a brown spot on a Venetian blind, but they are otherwise completely harmless, and I just vacuum them up when they get too numerous (one is too numerous for my wife). I have even taken the vacuum cleaner outside and vacuumed up a trove of nymphs living on the ground in some dried sugar maple leaves. The Colorado and Minnesota Extension Services give some tips on controlling them, but an expert from Colorado State University advised me against anything doing heroic, such as using insecticides. If you get a lot of bugs on the outside of the house, you can spray them with insecticidal soap or dish detergent, but it does not help much, and you have to wash it off afterward or it may stain the siding.

We’ve been seeing plenty of these little guys since the weather turned cold. they make a nice pop when you shash them, but then you have to go wash a nasty little odor off your hands.

We used to have a box elder tree right next to the house - they looked quite charming on the white siding… We would get thousands of them congregating on the house, almost like a swarm of bees. The Shop-Vac worked great. I found them interesting because there would be little bitty ones and several distinct sizes up to adults with wings - they are quantized: Each instar is a bit bigger, but the babies just look like miniature adults (one of the signs of a True Bug).

I live in a community that is restoring tall-grass prairie. These little creatures love to congregate on the common milkweed.

Can any etymologists tell me what they love about milkweed?

Scince Nut said: Can any etymologists tell me what they love about milkweed?

The taste?

Can any etymologists tell me what they love about milkweed?

I guess they don’t have a cow?

I’m not sure what an entomologist would say, but an etymologist might point out that you’re using the wrong word to describe an entomologist’s area of expertise! :-)

Well, an etymologist would explain that a milkweed bug is named after milkweed because milkweed is its preferred host plant, and that “bug” properly refers to any member of the insect order (or suborder) Hemiptera.

An entomologist would explain that milkweed bugs love milkweed so much is because the milkweed bug has evolved to love the milkweed, as whenever an insect adapts to one host plant, it not only develops resistance to the host’s own phytotoxins, either through metabolizing them, or metabolically ignoring them, but it also utilizes these same toxins to sniff out the correct host, like the way cabbage white butterflies preferentially lay their eggs on the leaves of any and all plants that secrete mustard oils, such as mustards, radishes, kohlrabis and nasturtiums.

Scince Nut said:

I live in a community that is restoring tall-grass prairie. These little creatures love to congregate on the common milkweed.

Can any etymologists tell me what they love about milkweed?

Colorado State (at the link above) distinguishes between a box elder bug and a small milkweed bug, which I think is Lygaeus kalmii. They look a lot alike, but they are apparently different critters. There are a lot of nice pictures here for comparison. That is all I know about box elder bugs.

Very annoying buggers. I hate when they fly up the pant leg of my shorts every summer.

There is also a western and eastern variety. The picture is the eastern variety. I live in Oregon. They are nasty most of the summer when it gets hot and dry in the Wilamette Valley.

My son and I played disc golf in a local park and the bugs were so dense when you sat on a bench to rest 20-100 would land on you - and it was hot. It was truly miserable experience.

They seem harmless, just very annoying when they are in such huge numbers. Wish there was a good way to keep them at bay.

Scince Nut said:

I live in a community that is restoring tall-grass prairie. These little creatures love to congregate on the common milkweed.

Can any etymologists tell me what they love about milkweed?

Though I am not an etymologist I would guess that the bugs (nice to use that word acurately) enjoy the benefit of the toxins produced by milkweed much as the monarch butterfly caterpillar does; it makes the bugs taste bitter and predators learn to spit them out. This results in some potential victims surviving an initial attack (or some more) and still living long enough to mate. Or to take part in the mating dance.

I used to observe a similar bug (different specie) in NW Wyoming. One thing I recall was the bold manner in which they went about their business. They did not seem to be worried about potential attack, as are many other small critters. It may be that they were emboldened by a lower potential for attack by virtue of assimilating chemicals found in milkweed.

That said, how they managed to maintain equanimity after ingesting mass quantities is beyond my expertise.

If language were intelligently designed, etymology and entomology would not be so much alike! ;)

They should be called wordology and bugology (or maybe insectology).

Henry

Man, on the prairies (so called in Canada: a.k.a. “the Great Plains” south of the 49th parallel) we used to get literally tonnes (tons, south of 49) of these things in the fall. Shovels to get rid of them.

(or maybe insectology)

heh. I teach at a university in Korea, and on the university website, that’s what they call my specialty! (And it’s actually a Good University!)

djlactin said:

Shovels to get rid of them.

Man, I’m glad to live in an environment that isn’t as productive! Of course, sometimes when you walk in our mountains you can have your own cloud of mosquitoes, so we have our pests too.

Henry J said:

They should be called wordology and bugology

I like that!

Then you can easily split off subjects such as “weirdwordology” for funny terms (entomology, perhaps: “Etymology: French entomologie, from Greek entomon insect (from neuter of entomos cut up, from en- + temnein to cut) + French -logie -logy”; it seems to be a joke about “cut up” and insects three parts somewhere in here) and “bigbugology” for giant beetles.

I can think of other subjects in need of modernization as well. For example astronomy could be called “starology”, high-energy physics could be “acceleratorology” and computer research could be “blogology”.

Oops - I posted in the wrong thread, then reposted an older version here. Let me try again:

djlactin said:

Shovels to get rid of them.

Man, I’m glad to live in an environment that isn’t as exuberantly productive!

Of course, sometimes when you walk in our mountains you can have your own cloud of mosquitoes, so we have our pests too.

Henry J said:

They should be called wordology and bugology

I like that!

Then you can easily split off subjects such as “weirdwordology” for funny terms (entomology, perhaps: “Etymology: French entomologie, from Greek entomon insect (from neuter of entomos cut up, from en- + temnein to cut) + French -logie -logy”; it seems to be a joke about “cut up” and insect’s three parts somewhere in there) and “bigbugology” for giant beetles.

I can think of other subjects in need of modernization as well. For example astronomy could be called “starology”, high-energy physics could be “accelerator-techno-logy” (or “acceleratorology” for short), logics should either be “logic-and-illogicology” or “yes-and-or-no-logy” - and perhaps some modern computer research should be “blogology”?

From a true cacographer and a poor bugologist…tanx fer all duh korections and the really wicked kool bug site:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/460

In most places I have lived, they were just randomly around, then when working in a lab at the U. of Utah, the corner of our building was a swarm nucleus. Every year. Thousands and thousands.

In N. California, I just see them here and there.

To an East Coast city dweller, one of these critters by itself looks magnificently beautiful.

But I can imagine that a million of them together are less than charming.

Father Wolf said:

To an East Coast city dweller, one of these critters by itself looks magnificently beautiful.

But I can imagine that a million of them together are less than charming.

It depends on where they’re swarming: if it were millions of them swarming on their host plants, then, no, they would appear extremely charming; if they were swarming on your screens in order to get into your house, then yes, their charm drops significantly by orders of several magnitudes.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

Henry J said:

They should be called wordology and bugology

I like that!

Then you can easily split off subjects such as “weirdwordology” for funny terms (entomology, perhaps: “Etymology: French entomologie, from Greek entomon insect (from neuter of entomos cut up, from en- + temnein to cut) + French -logie -logy”; it seems to be a joke about “cut up” and insect’s three parts somewhere in there) and “bigbugology” for giant beetles.

I’ve read that “comiconomenclaturist” is a term for someone who specializes in funny names. :)

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 1, 2008 12:00 PM.

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