Monday - April 19, 2021

Bugs and Humans competing for Boulder Territory! Who will win??

Recently, Boulder has been infiltrated by a rare influx of leaf beetles. According to the Daily Camera, residents on Ogallala Road have been hit hardest by the beetle plague, with the lady-bug look-alikes munching on cottonwood trees and willows and creating a holey-patchwork of once dense, lush tree leaves.

“This is a native insect that’s having a good year — the biggest year, maybe, in that guy’s recent history,” said Whitney Cranshaw, professor of entomology at Colorado State University, to the Daily Camera. “It’s just having a really good year because, for some reason, the natural controls that normally keep it down aren’t as efficient.”

In the past, Boulder and Colorado have been hit by other bug plagues, like fleas and bed bugs. In 2014, the National Pest Management Association reported a 71 percent increase in bed bug infestations since 2001 and Denver was listed among the U.S. cities that had been most affected by the return of the pesky little insects. Maybe we just have nicer beds? Bed bugs are very small, and like warm, sheltered places, and you might know you have them if small, itchy red welts appear on your skin. Thankfully, the infestation was quickly managed and Boulder is free from the pesky insects once more.

Also in 2014, it was discovered that some fleas in Boulder carried the plague. Luckily, the fleas were spot-specific and no one contracted the disease since they quarantined the area and warned anyone from entering. Not to say that Boulder isn’t a lovely place to be, it just happens to be popular on the human and insect scale.

The leaf beetles infiltrating Boulder currently don’t seem like they will be a massive problem, according to Cranshaw. They may eat some leaves, but they won’t kill the trees. But it gives you a little humility, doesn’t it? Top of the food chain, yet we’re still relatively stoppered by these tiny little critters.