Drought Partially to Blame for Boxelder Bug Influx

Boxelder bugs invading Chicago's suburbs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Experts say you shouldn't worry about the boxelder bugs, but that's little comfort for people whose homes have been covered or invaded by them for weeks. Lauren Jiggetts reports. (Published Thursday, Oct 18, 2012)

    Fingers have pointed to the Midwest's severe summer drought as the source of a diminished wheat crop, rising restaurant tabs, an empowered Chicago rat population and, though thankfully fake, a world bacon shortage.

    Even as the rain levels right themselves with the help of a rainy fall, the dry summer is now the culprit behind another unwelcome side effect: boxelder bugs.

    The bugs have invaded parts of the northwest suburbs and experts say the summer's drought is to blame. 

    We're not the only ones. The Today Show reported a small town in Utah is experiencing the biggest influx of the insects they've seen.

    Suburban Chicago residents have noticed the brown or black bugs accumulated on the sides of their homes, and as chilly temperatures set in, they're making their way inside. 

    "When it starts to get cold, they want a warm, nice place to sleep for the winter, just like you or I," said Steve Sullivan, senior curator of urban ecology for the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the Peggy Notebaert Museum.

    The good news is boxelders are more of a nuisance than a threat, and they don't bite.

    "They're a very benign species," Sullivan said. "They like to feed off the seeds of the boxelder tree."

    Sullivan said the bugs can be vacuumed or simply dumped outside, but Nixon warns squishing them is a bad idea as they could leave a stain.