© 2012 Idaho Press-Tribune

TREASURE VALLEY — Hundreds of thousands of new residents moved into the Treasure Valley recently, and these new guests aren’t exactly welcome.

It’s an insect in the order Heteroptera, otherwise known as crop or seed bugs, and it’s a nuisance to many southwest Idaho homeowners.

About 90 people commented about the bug on the Idaho Press-Tribune Facebook page, describing a pest that coats gardens, siding, windows, doors and walls by the hundreds or even thousands.

WHAT IS IT?

Though it looks like a Box Elder, False Chinch, or Western Conifer Seed bug — all members of the same insect family — this bug is a species all its own, according to Ariel Agenbroad, a horticulture educator with the University of Idaho Extension in Canyon County.

The intruder has no specific name, but a scientist with the Smithsonian Institute identified it from a photo, Frank Merickel, an entomologist with the UI Extension, said.

The species is attracted to Elm trees and infamous in Italy for its habit of infesting buildings, he said.

Researchers don’t have a clear understanding of how the bugs came to southwest Idaho, but records show infestations in late July and early August 2011.

According to Merickel, adults of the species overwinter, mate in the spring and lay their eggs on the leaves of Elm trees.

The peak time for the bugs came early this year, Agenbroad said. As with many other pests, like mosquitoes, the mild winter hastened the mating cycle and moved up the insect’s peak infestation time.

“Hopefully by next summer (we’ll) have a better understanding of the biology and behavior of these bugs and can do more to avoid them or discourage them,” Merickel said.

At least home owners can rest assured that the bugs, while a major annoyance, do not pose any danger to humans, animals or plants.

HOW DO I GET RID OF THEM?

If the insect is hard to identify, it’s even harder to kill.

Jon Sprik, an employee at Steve Regan Company, said products like Malathion, Talstar Professional Insecticide and Bifen IT — used to eliminate mosquitoes at Lake Lowell — work to eliminate the bug. He also recommends Tempo SC Ultra.

“It’s a super-concentrate made of cyfluthrin cyano,” Sprik said. “You can spray that inside or outside, no smell or anything and it’s safe for pets when it dries.”

But Facebook commenters say pesticides have only a slight effect on the insects.

Merickel does not recommend sprayed chemicals, because they’re only effective when applied directly to the bugs. The insects move to quickly for that treatment.

For outdoors pests, drenching congregations with water may drown some, Merickel suggested.  

To keep them from getting into your home, seal doors, windows and vents as completely as possible.

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