It’s that time of the year again when we see lots of boxelder bugs. They show up in many places - on trees, sides of houses, windows, even in the house sometimes. When I was a little girl I used to call them "oscars" for some reason I don’t remember. I wasn’t at all afraid of them, since they don’t bite, and would carry them around. Boxelder bugs are classified as true bugs, of which there are 50-80,000 different species. Their distinguishing characteristic is piercing and sucking mouth parts which they use to drink plant juices particularly those of boxelder and maple trees. They don’t do much damage to their sources of food so aren’t considered serious pests. Unfortunately many people use pesticides to kill them if they gather in large numbers on their houses, when in reality they are only seeking warmth.

Boxelders bugs are attractive insects. Their bodies are grayish with what looks like red piping, and their tiny eyes are red. I still enjoy seeing them after all these years and hope people won’t feel the need to poison them. They are a sign of autumn’s rapid approach.