Sunday, December 6, 2009

Democrat Bug


The second most common name for this bug, Democrat Bug, is most certainly not for it's political preferences. Most people know this insect as the Eastern Box Elder Bug (Boisea trivittata). I've never been able to find any definitive information that explains why in some parts of its range it is called Democrat bug, which is exactly what I've always called them. So this seems to be a common nickname in NWMO. 
The species name of trivittata apparently refers to the three red stripes on their bodies. They reach lengths up to 1/2 inch and are all black with those distinctive red lines, along with red eyes. As their name implies, they are found throughout the Eastern United States. The adults like juices from Maple trees, and fruit trees as well as some nectar. The nymphs feed on various things including the juices of the host trees, seeds from trees, dead insects and even members of their own species as they shed their exoskeletons while molting. After mating, the females will deposit eggs behind the bark of trees, Boxelders are commonly used, but so are Maples, and Ash Trees. These insects often congregate in large numbers in the fall, and will be seen on the south facing sides of homes, and other structures as they warm themselves on sunny fall days. They will make their way inside in large numbers and seek shelter for the winter. They cause no damage, they do not bite, sting, stink or are in anyway offensive. They are merely a nuisance to have around. If you cannot abide by them in your house, merely suck them up in a canister vacuum and turn them loose outside. Some years their populations seem to be more plentiful than other years. This year I have not noticed them in any significant number at all, in fact I've only seen the one photographed here and maybe a dozen others. I don't mind their presence, there are certainly worse things to have around.

7 comments:

  1. I couldn't find any reference to the name (democrat) in wikipedia. Thanks for the verification

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  2. I grew up in NE Kansas. Rural folks knew them as Democrat bugs, but town and city folks just knew the proper name.

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    1. i grew up in rural central Kansas in an area that hasn't elected a Democrat since the depression I'm now 70 years old. I remember asking my dad as a child why they called them democrat bugs, His answer was "Because they are good for nothing and too many show up just when you don't want them".

      I don't know if this was his witticism or if he got it from someone else but it made enough of an impression on me that that I think I remember his answer word for word.

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    2. Sounds like a good reason to me to call them Democrat bugs.....LOL

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  3. they have become bothersome in my home over the last two summers. i found one in my washer. what can I do?

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    1. I wish I had a good answer for you. I know soapy water will kill them. You can also vacuum them up and toss them away. They only seem to be an issue in the fall and again in the spring. You can try spraying something like Ortho's Home Defense but I am reluctant to advise that, because chemical should always be the last resort because of all the beneficial insects that will also be killed.

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  4. If you transfer them to the dryer once they are clean, you shouldn't have much more of a problem after that.

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