Lakeland man has to fight neighbor's bug problem

Posted at 6:46 PM, Dec 22, 2015

Blackish-red bugs are crawling through leaves, in and out of trees and all over the front lawn of 83-year-old Major Morris of Lakeland.

"You see the grass? It ain't dying on its own. They're eating it up," he said.

Morris, an Army veteran, said he spent thousands of dollars on his plush lawn, and hundreds more trying to kill the unwelcome pest that's migrating to his lawn from the vacant home next door.

The bug, identified as a boxelder bug, is infested in his neighbor's tree and lawn.

"They're all over. They go all in your bushes, all around the whole house and eat everything," he said.

Recently, Morris called Lakeland Code Enforcement. Officer Jeffrey Hites inspected the problem, but declared the bug only a nuisance and not an actual cause of damage.

"There's nothing that's covered in the city ordinance that will cause us to take any further action on that property or his," he said.

Hites said if it was termites or another bug that is known to cause damage, then they would definitely act.

They said because it's been so unseasonably warm, it's making this particular nuisance -- that they compare to love bugs or lady bugs -- much worse.

Morris, however, is still convinced his grass is dead because of the swarm of bugs. He's waiting for the city to step up and help.

"They could if they wanted to. We pay taxes here," he said.

For now, he plans to keep spraying to try to kill the bugs, even though they always keep coming back.