Posted by: chlost | November 1, 2011

Our annual battle with Mother (Nature)

We’re being invaded again.

The price that we pay for having trees surrounding our property is that we are invaded by box elder bugs every fall. And I am not talking about one or two bugs. I am talking about hundreds.

The bugs gather on the south side of our home. They congregate on the screens of the sliding door to the deck. If the door is not opened very carefully, dozens of the bugs will cascade from the top edge of the door frame and land onto heads, into the neck of shirts, and/or eyes. Now that we have had a frost, there are just a few left. This is the south-facing side of our home, and these are a few of the diehard bugs left behind.

Just a few of the hundreds which coated our home earlier this fall.

The only way to rid the house of these bothersome bugs (they don’t bite, they don’t breed indoors and they don’t eat anything) is to vacuum them up. There is a very satisfying little *swumpf* as each little bug is transported to the basement central vac tank. I will never look into that tank. That is Husband’s job.

Then there are the mice. As the weather gets colder, not unlike the human residents of this state, the mice search ever more frantically for a warm winter home. In the rodent version of snowbirding, however, our home equals Florida. Should there be any miniscule opening into our home, those little suckers shimmy their furry little tummies right through and set up their winter home in our family bed and breakfast. Of course, our breakfast becomes their favorite breakfast-theirs is just served a la garbage cannes. The neighbor’s cat tries his best, but let’s face it, he is not up to such a large eradication project. He is fat and happy as he crosses the lawn. I just don’t think he has the proper motivation needed for this job.

Husband has an ongoing battle with the bright-eyed shiny little monsters. There is a constant “trap line” set up near the entrances to our house. Nothing says “home” like the snap of a mousetrap in the middle of the night.

We also share our home with those who view it as a possible aviary. The woods which surround us is home to  downy, hairy, red-bellied and even red-headed woodpeckers as well as many varieties of other birds. We have routinely kept a feeder filled for them. The woodpeckers have apparently felt that our hospitality should extend to include winter lodging as well as food. They have taken it upon themselves to prepare the style of home that they prefer. The cedar siding on our house provides the perfect base for this preparation.  The sides of our house have long lines of holes which they work on incessantly each day. The sound of the pounding drives the dog crazy. This is what one side of the southeast corner of our home looks like.

Look closely at the dark brown trim, and you will see the woodpecker homes currently under construction.

The other side of this trim has an even larger/longer woodpecker subdivision in process with perhaps a dozen holes, but the camera did not show it very well. In order to stop this frantic construction project, I have resorted to flying silver mylar balloons out of the bedroom window. I can only hope that none of the neighbors misinterprets this as being a secret warning or welcome signal to a non-spousal lover. The gossip could become quite rabid.

We also are hosts to moles. The trails which crisscross our yard look very similar to the coloring project of my granddaughter.

This is similar to the blueprint for the backyard moles' tunnel construction project.

As the weather gets colder, the tunnels seem to become longer and deeper. As we walk across the lawn, our feet sink several inches when stepping over a tunnel. The grass dies where the moles have tunneled and cut the roots off from the soil and water source. When the lawn mower passes over them, it scrapes the grass off the higher portion, leaving bald spots in random areas. Quite the suburban lawn of Eden, believe me.

There is one final invader that I almost don’t want to discuss. Just talking about these makes my skin crawl. We painted the shutters of our home recently. When he removed the shutters from the sides of the windows,  Husband was horrified to have a bat fly just past his head. Each of the shutters was the daytime resting spot for bats. It was awful. I understand that “bats are our friends”-I’ve watched plenty of Nature documentaries. But really-couldn’t they find another place to rest? So far, we have had only one in the house. Husband was the bat hero, catching it in a bath towel and taking it outside to be released. I suppose it was hanging upside down behind the shutter again within the hour.

Of course, we love our lot along the river. We have small wooded areas on either side of our home. Other than the moles, mice, bats, box elder bugs, and woodpeckers which want to join us in our home each fall, it is a spectacular place to live.

Feel free to visit anytime!  Maybe you’ll want to wait until the snow hits, though.




  1. I had to google box elder bugs and see that I have them, too. But not many – mostly stink bugs come into my house.

    • I guess maybe box elders are better than stink bugs.

      • Stink bugs are harmless – and they only stink if you crush them. I just escort them outdoors.

  2. If I had that many critters visiting, I might start to feel paranoid. I’m jumpy enough as it is!

    • It can be quite overwhelming at times.

  3. Ditto, ditto, ditto and ditto. When we bought the lake place, with shutters I was awakened at dawn by the sound of wierd scratching at the window.. looked out side and there were bats comeing home to roost. Gross.

    Last fall, drove up there, from afar it looked like someone had spilled some kind of black paint on the wall, getting closer ti was moving.. millions of box elderbugs. Sprayed them with dishsoap and water. Works great.

    Mice have eaten my boat cover, fish house, and have a chewed a hole in my wall at home where I woke up to hear them scratching and gnawing in the bedroom wall.,

    You left of one that we have that I hate as bad as them all. Japanese beatles. Look like lady bugs, cute little devils. Come in the house in the fall by the millions. They bite and leave a smelly little yellow spot on teh wall. HATE.

    • It is a constant battle. We have some of the asian beetles, too. The congregate in the corners of the ceilings for some reason. They don’t bother me quite as much because they don’t seem to fall down. I just suck ’em up with the box elders.

  4. Mercy, you are under attack from so many fronts. Your coping skills must be exhausted.
    I did have some mice that liked the wiring on my car but somehow, they have gone else where to live. Guess my neighbor has better tasting wires or perhaps it is the owls I have been hearing lately at night. I love owls.
    So sorry nature has gotten so nasty. Hope you get relief soon.

    • We used to have owls we could hear talking to each other at night. That was wonderful. For some reason, they don’t seem to be around now.

  5. Goodness … that’s a lot of “visitors”! I like bats but I’m not sure I’d appreciate them sharing the house (inside or out). Mice are annoying little pests and I’ve never heard of the box elder bugs. I think I’d be pissed about the woodpeckers destroying siding but at least we have a solution for moles … it’s not real practical (or inexpensive) for large yards, but those “sonic mole chasers” work great. We had to get some to keep the gophers out of our yard. The dog was digging to try and get to them and it drove hubby nuts!

    • I’d like to find a mole chaser. We tried using an insecticide to get their food source, but I don’t like killing all of the bugs-I don’t think that is good for the soil. But once we ended using it, the moles all came back. They are horrible little things….not at all cute like Beatrix Potter portrayed them.

  6. Ah, the price paid for living near the woods… I’ve never heard of boxelder bugs before. In the past my parents have done battle with all the other creatures you mention, and squirrels and carpenter ants, too. Perhaps you need your own cat to take care of the mice?

    • I would love another cat. When we had a cat, we had no problems with mice (or moles, either, come to think of it). But husband does not want a cat. I’m working on it.

      • Surely there is some way to work an angle with the cows? One little kitty doesn’t require the upkeep a few cows do. Or you could use my tactic … I can make everyone very unhappy until I get what I want. [insert evil laugh] 😉

      • I agree with dragonfae – a cat is far less work than a cow! 😉

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