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Invasion of the six-legged creeps: Calgarians battling boxelder bugs

Meaghan Walsh has spent countless hours spraying the walls of her quiet Killarney home with soapy water, trying to beat back an onslaught of creepy six-legged invaders.

"It really does feel like Halloween came early," said Walsh, who is facing off against an army of boxelder bugs, which are looking for refuge inside her home.

So far, the bugs are winning.

"They are everywhere inside right now," she said.

"We've seen them on the walls. We've seen them on our kitchen table. We've seen them on our stove. We've seen them even in our bed, and it's just -- it's disgusting, to be quite honest."

Walsh is far from alone in her ordeal.

Across Calgary, boxelder bugs are leaving the trees in which they have spent the spring and summer, looking for a warmer place to roost.

All too often, that place is someone's house.

Brendan Campbell of Abell Pest Control has been fielding calls from Calgarians currently under siege by the bugs.

"We get a lot of calls of people having them clustered around their windows, the doorframes, even along the exterior of the house where the sun will shine," Campbell said.

"Basically, it's causing a nuisance for the homeowners, in terms of having a nice, enjoyable experience on the outside, on their patios.

"But when they start coming on the inside, then it starts becoming a more problematic issue. They can cause some red staining on people's drapes, curtains, couches and stuff like that, too, right? Which is quite difficult to get out."

Erik Johnson of Grove Eco-Friendly Pest Control says if you are facing off against boxelder bugs, prevention is vital.

"The best thing to do is just seal around any windows, replace door seals if you can and just putting a bead of caulking around any pipes or vents that are going into the house. That'll stop a lot of them from coming in the house," Johnson said.

"They don't carry any diseases. They don't bite. So they're just annoying. I recommend just vacuuming them up when they come into the house."

Both Johnson and Campbell say a large infestation may require a professional exterminator, but both also agree the chemicals they use only manage the bugs for a short period.

 "It'll help a lot. It controls them a lot. They will come back though," Johnson said.

"So it is just something you have to keep on top of, unfortunately."

If boxelder bugs do get inside the walls of your home, they will not reproduce over the winter. They do not breed indoors. Many of them will simply die and others may go dormant, awakening in the spring, when they will head back to the trees they prefer to call home.

Campbell says that is when homeowners should have an assessment done of their yard.

"Springtime is the best time to definitely have a look at it. Examine the trees that have seeds, apple trees, maple trees, that type of stuff," Campbell said.

"It's female trees, too, that are going to be the more prime target for these boxelder bugs. So having an inspection done during those timeframes is going to be very beneficial."

Walsh says she and her partner are already taking preventative measures for next spring but right now, the bugs continue their daily sorties toward her home.

"I know a lot of Calgarians are kind of dealing with this just from the conversations I've had. And I think the best way to go about it is know that this is a temporary issue," she said.

"There's really not much we can do about it during this time of year. It's just kind of get rid of them as you see them and move on with your day." Top Stories


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