Posted by: chlost | September 22, 2010


Now that the cooler weather is here, we who live on the edge of the woods have to deal with wildlife which covet our warmer living spaces. It is now the season of mice, spiders, birds, and box elder bugs!!!

The past few days, the box elder bugs have been clinging to the south side of our house. Not just a few of them, mind you, but hundreds. These little bugs look disconcertingly similar to cockroaches. They are long, with antennae and long legs:

They don’t bite, and from what we have determined, they don’t eat anything in  the house if they do come inside.They are apparently attracted to the box elder trees which grow along the river. These are very large trees that provide much shade and green to us all summer. The bugs are a byproduct of the trees.  They come into the house, then they die.  They will  make you gasp if you find one crawling on you while you watch TV (or work at the computer). In the past, I have made the mistake of opening the sliding doors and reaching out to get the dog’s tie out right away. I was rewarded with a shower of box elder bugs raining on my head, into my collar, and tangled in my hair. I’m talking about many dozens of them-all at once.  I have not repeated that mistake-I guess I still have the ability to learn new things.

The spiders are readying their webs for the winter as well. You may think that our front porch is decorated for Halloween. No, these webs are all authentic. They come with spiders included. Sitting on the porch on a fall evening is an act of horror unless you know to clear the webs before taking your spot in the large comfy porch chairs. That crawling feeling on your arm is just a curious spider checking you out-dinner anyone? We recently got a shop vac to take care of them-much better.

The past few days we have also had woodpeckers hammering their beaks against the cedar siding of our home.  I assume that this must be the time of year for them to search for places to shelter them from the cold winds of winter. “What better place” they may think, “than the south side of this home which is coated in bugs?”  Of course, not many birds eat box elder bugs. Apparently they are not tasty to eat. We are not fans, however, of the polka-dotted siding look.  If left to go at it, they do eventually carve holes into the siding, no matter how expensive that siding may be.

The mice have also chosen our home as a prize location to spend the long cold winter. The house is now over 20 years old, so there are a few cracks and crevices which are available for the little furry things to squeeze in to find their way further into the house. Our dog just sits and watches any little mouse as it scurries across the floor. I don’t know what kind of back room deals may have been worked out, but the dog is more than willing to just give them a pass.  We have even found mouse droppings in his dog dish, and little stashes of dry dog food pellets hidden away by the mice for their future gastronomical enjoyment. The dog seems to be voting for peace in the world-as long as the dog food keeps coming into the bowl each day, he is more than willing to share.

So, each fall we drag out the vacuum daily,or more often as needed, and suck up as many of the disgusting bugs as possible. They can be found on the floor, ceilings, windows, and between the cracks of the window frames. We set out mouse traps, using the cheap peanut butter purchase especially for the cute little critters, and scream and yell at the woodpeckers whenever we hear their pounding outside our bedroom.

This is the price we pay for the treat of living on a river, at the edge of the woods.  We also get deer in our front yard, turkeys at our side windows, fox crossing the driveway and beavers in the stream. We have an eagle nest just downstream, and the eagle family flies overhead regularly. There are a multitude of bunnies, and many species of birds at our feeders.

We deal with it all as best we can, and love everything about it, except those damn box elder bugs.



  1. Years ago when we lived in St Francis our place was covered with those doggone bugs every fall as well. I’d forgotten all about that!

    • I’d like to forget it. Maybe the rain will get rid of them.

  2. Your place sounds idyllic: but what about these bugs?
    I admit I have no experience of box elder bugs but it sounds as if the food web is falling down. Surely, the spider webs should catch the bugs, then the woodpeckers should eat the spiders. As for the mice, do you not have stoats and weasels nearby?

    Otherwise, how about woodpecker and mouse casserole with a topping of crunchy bugs? Waste not, want not!

    • I guess I will have to invite you for dinner-you must be a creative cook!

  3. My grandma’s house was plagued with box elder bugs; I used to have to steel myself before going to the bathroom, as invariably, there’d be at least one crawling on the toilet, sometimes slowly drowning in the water.

    Don’t even get me started on my mouse traumas.

    Maybe get 12 cats and some Raid?

    • I would love a cat, as when we had one, we had no trouble with mice. What wonderful pests are you dealing with where you are?

  4. I have been inundated with weevil moths, which I HATE and kill when I can. And also, fairly frequently, a stink bug will make it’s way in. Those I just scoop up and toss back outside. The bugs on the outside of my house I generally leave in peace.

    • Okay-you win….stink bugs, yukkk!

  5. My step son, when he was little, “adopted” a family of Box Elder Beetles and kept them in a shoe box. He took then to school with him and put the box in his desk. Of course, they escaped and were all over the classroom. He got a lot of mileage out of that.

    • Better in a classroom. That could be a teaching moment about pests!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: