I've lived in the northeastern region of the U.S. for most of my years, but several years back we relocated to the mid-Atlantic region. All in all, it's been a positive move and we've experienced many wonderful things.
Of course anytime something positive occurs, there is usually something else to accept as a trade-off which ain't as sweet as honey and biscuits. Being new to the south, I learned that with the loveliness comes some ugly stuff to contend with too.
Bugs! Funky bugs, big and small. Now we had bugs in the north, but the ones in the south are something else.
Our particular house guests were icky little flying red beetles, brilliantly colored, but icky just the same. I later learned they were called box elder bugs. The first week we began to move in they appeared and took up residence in two of the bedroom windows. At first we left them alone since they were confined between the glass pane and the screen, figuring we'd be a bit hospitable and besides, we had other moving priorities.
While routinely finding bugs in the house, all was peaceful. Initially, to combat the problem, I just pulled down the shades to make them go away and life was good. I also made sure I didn't open these windows.
However, those red buggers quickly wore out their welcome when they invited all of their friends and family to stay. Not only did they bring company, but they decided to wheedle their way into two other rooms' windows too. They were obviously getting in from outside, but dangit, from where?
One day as I was scrutinizing their habits and to see if I could detect the "door", I saw their secret entrance! I didn't want to spray because I believe most bugs should be given a chance to hit the high road before they get whacked, so I took measures to barricade it off, hoping this would do the trick. It failed miserably. Geez, these bugs just couldn't take the hint they were unwelcome.
Turns out there were more entrances than one because after blocking it up, those pesky buggers still managed to find a way to squiggle those crusty little bodies in. At this point, the weather was still a bit cold, so they'd freeze to death over night and we'd get rid of them in the morning, but those bugs just kept coming back.
Day after day I watched to see if I could unlock the deepest, darkest secrets of our wretched little winged and feeler friends to see if they'd trust me enough to reveal the clandestine doorway to the great outdoors. My plan was to gain their trust so we could lock 'em out once and for all. Several years later I'm still trying to figure out this puzzle, but in the meantime, I'd learned some nifty new things.
Gosh, those bugs sure do like to mate! Day after day I'd see dozens of couples using my window sill as their nesting ground where they would deposit tons of eggs as their rent payment. Have you ever seen bug eggs? It's weird they look like regular chicken eggs, but a lot smaller and darker in color. Never in my life did I ever think I'd get to see a bug egg up close!
That's it, time for the hard core measure - yep, time to spray. And spray we did. That worked . . . for about a day. Religiously my husband and I sprayed the bugs and then got rid of the eggs, and we'd breathe a collective sigh of relief that we can finally open the windows and get some air in.
To our dismay, two days later they're baaack. So we'd spray again and this time left a couple of dead corpses on the window for their friends to view and mourn, hoping this would act as a deterrent. Ha!
Oh, they came around all right, I sat there one day and watched bug after bug "kick" their dead buddies off the window sill. Hmmm, I thought, maybe they are giving their dead crusty friends a proper burial. For a brief moment I considered how thoughtful these icky flying creepy crawlers are. So I asked a friend of mine, who used to work in pest control, about their rituals. He told me they weren't engaging in some interment ceremony, they were feasting on their pals. Doesn't sound like mourning to me, but with all of those dead bugs, it must have been a hell of a celebration with all that food!
It was April, maybe bugs celebrate Thanksgiving in April. They have a lot to give thanks for considering they were not only living rent-free, but in a sneaky way getting us to supply their feast too.
So we up the ante and begin to spray the windows, the bugs and the hatching baby buggers. I swear these bugs have the horror movie mentality (you know the one - the cardinal law of horror movies which states if the characters have sex, it's guaranteed they'll meet an untimely end). Well, these critters insist on mating in my windowsill and despite getting "sprayed in the act" with the handy dandy bug spray, gosh darn it, this still doesn't work. In fact, they'd taken up permanent residence in the den windows and continued their reproductive quest from there.
We'd effectively reduced the number of houseguests, but they just couldn't grasp the idea they've worn out their welcome and they were being kicked out. Finally, we pulled out all the stops and pulled out the industrial vacuum cleaner, took the windows apart and found more of their clever little hiding places. That industrial vacuum sucked them all into vacuum bag eternity, then we washed the sills down and removed any sign of their existence.
We did this in the hope the survivors would take off, fly the friendly skies and go reproduce somewhere else. What's funny is they did. Once we discovered their secret hideaway, they moved out into the mulch in front of the house.
We're anticipating next April simply to see if they return for an annual bug Thanksgiving jubilee.
Update: Since this was originally written in 2008, the box elder bugs do not come in swarms anymore, they keep to the mulch outside, however, I do find some holdouts still visiting my windows several months out of the year.