What's the Secret of Their Success?

By Mark Hubble, Scott Miller

November/December 2007

Boisea trivittatus, better known as the boxelder bug, emerges from the recesses of homes and dwellings in early spring. While feared neither for its bite nor for its sting, most people consider the tiny insect a pest. The critter comes out by the thousands, resting in the sun and staining upholstery and draperies with its orange-colored wastes. Few find it endearing, with the exception perhaps of entomologists. It doesn't purr and won't fetch the morning paper. What's more, you'll be sorry if you step on it. When crushed, the diminutive creature emits a putrid odor worthy of an animal many times its size.

For as long as anyone could remember, Boisea trivittatus was an unwelcome yet familiar guest in the offices and waiting area of a large Midwestern, multicounty community mental health center. Professional exterminators did their best to keep the bugs at bay, but inevitably many eluded the efforts to eliminate them. Tissues were strategically placed throughout the center to assist staff and clients in dispatching the escapees. In time, the arrangement became routine. Out of necessity, everyone tolerated the annual annoyance—with one notable exception.

Dawn, a 12-year veteran of the center, led the resistance to what she considered "insecticide." In a world turned against the bugs, she was their only ally. To save the tiny beasts, she collected and distributed old mason jars, imploring others to catch the little critters so that she could…

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1 Comment

Sunday, October 26, 2014 5:16:24 PM | posted by Keith Foster
Great article. I am interested in "the scale" that "Dawn" used to obtain feedback from the client she was seeing in your article. Do you have examples you use and would be willing to share?