Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

Minneota’s Boxelder Bug Day committee should consider having some scheme for Bug Day attendees to taste boxelder syrup. With the milder March temperatures, I found a boxelder bug traveling across our basement carpet. That made me think, why is he in my basement? There are no Boxelder trees on or near our property.
I decided I needed to research this to find out why those bugs like to live at our place. I learned that boxelder trees are dioecious, where one tree is male and the other is female. Both male and female trees flower, but the male tree flowers do not produce seeds. Sort of like us humans. When the female tree is in bloom, it is a favored dining place for boxelder bugs. They suck juice from the flowers. The bugs are not interested in dining on male tree flowers.
Boxelder trees are part of the maple tree family that includes the red, silver, black and sugar maples. All these other maples are monoecious where both the male and female flowers are on the same tree. Boxelder bugs like eating on these maples, but only suck juice from the female flowers. That’s why they like our place, because the neighborhood is full of all kinds of maple trees. In the winter they like to hibernate in warm places and somehow they find their way into our basement.
Boxelder trees can be tapped for sap like other maples and boiled down into syrup. It takes roughly 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. It takes 60 gallons or more of boxelder to boil into a gallon of syrup due to its lower sugar content.
I’m guessing there are plenty of boxelder trees in the Minneota area. Especially along the Yellow Medicine River and serving as farm windbreaks.
It is too late to initiate a project like this for the 2021 Bug Days. But it could be planned as a high school science project for 2022 or maybe a fundraiser for some other local volunteer organization.
I hope this letter will initiate some discussion in Minneota about boxelder syrup and bring a little humor to the old timer gatherings. I’m going to try to drive down from the Twin Cities for Bug Days 2021 and hopefully again in 2022 to taste some boxelder syrup ice cream.

Ghislain DeVlaminck
Eagan, MN

(Note: At the age of 17 months, DeVlaminck came to Minneota on a train in September of 1949 from Belgium.)

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