Yes, the Boxelder Bugs are Really Bad in Minnesota This Winter
Apparently, they're one of the effects of last summer's drought.
For most of this winter, we've had an unwanted guest in the radio studio with us. Sometimes we find him crawling across the desk, sometimes on the floor, sometimes on the wall, sometimes buzzing his way through the air. On occasion, he's even landed on our microphones while we're speaking! It would also seem true that our unwanted guest has supernatural abilities -- even after being stomped on and exterminated, he's shown up again to resume his nuisance-y activities!
To say we've had a "boxelder bug problem" this winter might be an understatement. We've no idea where they've come from, where they're staying, what they're feeding on to stay alive. But they seem to like our radio studio. A lot.
We thought maybe the problem was unique to our studio in St. Cloud, but apparently the problem has been more widespread than that. A recent discussion in the Minnesota thread of Reddit reveals that many others have been dealing with a surplus of boxelder bugs this winter throughout the state.
"Anyone else having a bit of a boxelder bug problem in their house this winter?" Reddit user u/heather461 posed online.
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"Tons," said one person in the thread. "Never had more than 1 or 2 before. Supposedly this only happens once a decade or so though."
"Yes, this winter one or two are always crawling around aimlessly at my place. When they die, they’re replaced by new ones but the number never grows," said another, sympathizing with our own plight.
"Yeah we had a humungous infestation in our mulch last summer and it seems some are starting to wake up; they’re really lethargic," added a third. "If anyone knows of any preventative things you can do in spring to keep them at bay lemme know!"
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, the boxelder boom we seem to be suffering now may not be all that new; an article dated September 2021 addresses the influx of the six-legged nuisances.
"Boxelder bugs tend to have high populations during hot, dry summers (records show their populations skyrocketed during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s), meaning a summer like we had can produce a lot of boxelder bugs." As way of reminder, last summer saw record drought conditions throughout Minnesota. As far as why they end up in warm places like houses and radio studios during the winter, "There are a couple of reasons that boxelder bugs end up in certain spots. They love the warm sun on buildings with southern and western exposure. This is especially true if the building is the tallest thing around." UMN Extension goes on to explain how boxelder bugs find their way inside (gaps in doors and window screens) and how to best remove or prevent against them. You can read more here and the Reddit thread here.