Boxelder Bugs destroyed my lettuce

ryseryse_2004December 16, 2012

I have lettuce planted right up against the south of my house and thought I would have lettuce right up through Thanksgiving. It is a perfect protected place for it and looks beautiful in the summer with the flowers behind it. We are in mid Dec. and it still looks beautiful -

BUT: We were deluged this fall with thousands of Box-elder bugs and they just love that south wall. Well, they have peed on my lettuce to the point where I can't even wash off the smell/taste. I think there are so many that they have even fouled the soil. We have never had so many of them as this year but the good thing is that we don't have thousands of Asian Lady Bugs! They bite!

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guess you need to get rid of your box elders.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 4:49PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Are they a chronic annual problem for you? If so then I'd agree that the trees need to go. At the very least I'd investigate the sprays/controls for eliminating the bugs. You can easily cover the plants in the area where the congregate and spray the area. They aren't something you have to live with.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 6:45PM
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That is an oddity.
My parents had two large Box-elders in the yard for over forty years, and while they could be annoying at times, mostly lightly walking on you at night, they never caused any problems.

Now the Asian Lady Bugs, and even the normal ones biting while putting up storm-windows was a bit more annoying but my father would simply say "Ignore them and get busy."

Ditto for tiny Hack-berry bugs, and that tree is still there.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 10:04PM
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We have 60 acres, most of which is wooded so getting rid of any trees is out of the question. This is not an annual thing - this is the worst I have ever seen them. We had a swarm of Asian Lady Bugs one year that was almost this bad but that too isn't annual. Must have something to do with the weather. You can't really imagine the number of these things - sprays don't seem to do anything.

The south sides of our garage and house are LITERALLY covered with them and of course they figure out how to get into the house!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 9:05AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

But how many of the 60 acres of trees are Box Elder trees? They are what attract the bugs. It may mean simply removing a few of them that are closest to the house.

They are considered a 'trash' tree anyway and strongly recommended against in any landscaping. Removing the trees is the most effective way of controlling the bugs but if you prefer only the female trees need be removed.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 5:44PM
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I live in a town where there is not a Box-elder within miles and I still wake-up with them crawling on me at night.

They feed on all Acer species not just the Box-elder.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 7:46PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

They don't feed on lettuce. Look for something else to blame.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 10:41PM
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No, I don't think they feed on them. I said they 'peed' on them. All the farm people around this area are inundated with the bugs so getting rid of a few trees won't do anything. I doubt this is a yearly thing anyway --- just like the Lady Bugs.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 8:28AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

So when you originally posted were you seeking information on how to prevent the problem in the future or just posting a casual observation? That's what I assumed - looking for recommendations.

If so then eliminating box elder trees, raking up and disposing of the tree droppings, and treatment with specific pesticides are the standard recommended solutions. And removal of that species of tree shouldn't be scoffed at. It has proven to be quite effective in many parts of the country according to several state extension studies that are published.

Many aren't even aware that there is such a thing as a box elder tree, what they look like, and the role they play in the bug infestation. While it is true that the bugs can exist even without the trees they won't be in such excessive numbers.

But if tree removal isn't an option for some reason then I guess all you can do is avoid planting the areas where they will normally congregate - like the south side of any structures. Or I guess if you had to plant in that area then you'd have to rig up some sort of plant cover or shelter to block excrement access to the plants.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 10:12AM
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We have milkweed bugs in AZ that look identical to boxelder bugs. Also, blister beetles that look very similar. One or the other totally destroyed my tomatillos and then moved on to the eggplants. They are awful!!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:36PM
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