BUGS – The Goldenrain Tree Bug is the Bane of My Existence

See the pretty tree in this picture?

How pretty!

Oooh, beautiful!

This is a Goldenrain tree. It’s a very colorful tree, starting in the spring with tiny yellow blossoms (golden rain) that give way to little pinkish-orange pods (seen in the above picture), which contain tiny little black seeds. In the fall the green leaves turn a vibrant yellow before they fall off around November. When my wife and I bought our house, the majestic Goldenrain tree in the front yard was one of our favorite things about the house. Then, one day, I saw a few of these little fellas roaming around the driveway.

Say, that's kind of ugly.

Say, that’s kind of ugly.

Growing up in the desert of California, I had never seen a bug like it. So, not knowing what they were, I did what any reasonable homeowner would do. I killed every one of the little buggers that I saw. Sprayed ’em with bug spray, problem solved. Until the next year. Then I noticed little clusters of them, on the driveway and in seemingly random places around the yard. Kinda like this:

Oh, look. They've multiplied. Lovely.

Oh, look. They’ve multiplied. Lovely.

Again, I sprayed them, they went away. Then they would come back. I sprayed. They came back. There were at least three “waves” of them before they went away in the late fall. By this point I was getting pretty frustrated. This brings us to the summer before last. As spring sprung, I started to notice them earlier than years past.

Not again, I thought. I’ll show those stupid bugs who’s boss.

I finally decided to try and look these things up online. I didn’t find much at first, so I put it off. A month or two went by, I kept killing them, but it was not so much waves anymore as much as just a constant barrage of them. We started finding dead ones in the garage, and spreading to the side of the house. Finally, I stumbled upon pics of the Boxelder bug online, which is very similar in appearance. From there, it didn’t take long to find out about these wretched Goldenrain tree bugs.

The bugs are exclusive to the Goldenrain tree (hence the name). Among the things I discovered about them:

They eat the tiny little seeds that are inside those pretty pods that grow on the trees. That’s it. They don’t eat anything else but those seeds.

Spiders and birds don’t eat them because they evidently taste like a dirty sock (or something similarly disgusting).

They are easily killed with a simple solution of soapy water.

They are completely harmless. Just a minor (that’s a matter of opinion) nuisance.


I found that last bit hard to believe. I went out in the yard, armed with a garden hose connected to a little jug of laundry detergent, and I walked up to that damn Goldenrain Tree determined to unleash hell on those bugs. What I saw looked a little bit like this:

Holy crap, run for your lives!

Holy crap, run for your lives!

They were covering practically the entire tree. I sprayed, and sprayed, and sprayed. I went through an entire bottle of laundry soap. I bought more, and sprayed more. It took four days of spraying to make a serious dent. After a week, I hardly saw any. But they came back. They keep. Coming. Back.

Last summer I kept them pretty well under control, and I just accepted it was a part of having such a pretty tree in the yard. I sprayed with the soapy water, which allows you to kill them much more efficiently, a few times over the summer. But I hate them. I hate them with the fury of a thousand burning suns.

And now that the weather is starting to warm up, I’ve seen the first few of the year out on the porch. I squashed them under my shoe, and felt a sick sense of satisfaction. God help me.