It’s that time of year

Box elder bug

All the bugs and critters are in the moving mood looking for new digs. Just like people, spring is a great time to find a new hive, nest or hidey spot. They want a place where their kids will grow up and prosper (well it ain’t here!). In addition to the mouse that came to our bed and breakfast without a reservation, we’ve been having box elder bugs at the front door and ants at the cat food.

I’ve never had box elder bugs before. I don’t remember them from last year. We don’t have a box elder tree (species of maple). I’m not sure what they are doing here unless they got disoriented or failed botany class.

The first day several hundred arrived at the same time. (Yes, it was that many! A lot like The Birds!) A gigantic bug bus must have made a stop. You couldn’t go out the front door without a bunch sneaking in. With luggage. Trunks actually with all the family heirlooms.

Relatively speaking I’m kind to bugs and think they have a place in the ecological chain but it’s not in my house.

They are not too creepy but there were so many it was overwhelming, and we couldn’t use the front door. I checked with Mr. Google.

I’m not a chemical person. I have cats that lick the darndest things, so I keep them safe. Mr. Google said that water with a drop of dish soap in a spray bottle will do it and it did! Killed them within seconds. It doesn’t stop more from coming. I went out every hour or so the first day to spray. There were a lot less the second day.

After that the temperatures outside took a dive. I’m not sure if I killed off the motherload or they are back at home waiting for a warm day.

As if that wasn’t enough, the ants made their annual appearance. Technically the cat’s feeding area (which is their favorite spot) is a second-floor level. It’s a long trek up the outside brick for a few bites of Fancy Feast but they do it. It’s their version of Mount Everest.

This year I’m trying a new tactic. There is no standing wet cat food. I feed the cats wet food and whatever they don’t eat I pick up. There is kibble and water available on the second floor which would be a third-floor trek on the outside. So far, it’s working.

A cleaner my brother gave me that contains thyme kills them on contact. It’s one of those “non-lethal” solutions but not so good for ants.

I’m gearing up for the invasion of a large flying spider that is coming up the east coast in the next few years. They aren’t harmful but scary because of their size. It’s a good time to buy stock in exterminators.

 

56 thoughts on “It’s that time of year

  1. I caved in this year and signed up for five perimeter sprays a year with TruGreen; they’ve not come yet and I expect the ants any day now, but between rain, snow, sleet … I have to call tomorrow as my online account says nothing scheduled yet. Did I fall thru the cracks? If I had pets I could not do it, but being “pet-less” I decided I’d go for it this year. The ants are only in the rooms I spend the most time in – not on the other side of the house. Sigh. I did the soap in a spray bottle for the ants and saturated those little buggers, but they were okay. I tried the cornmeal trick too (a low dish of water and a low dish of cornmeal – supposedly the ants chow down on the cornmeal, wash it down with water and the cornmeal expands – they explode). They never touched it. Bugs, the bane of my existence.

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    • I thought Tru-Green was for grass. The ants were killed with the thyme soap spray but the box elder bugs went belly up with plain soap and water. I just wish they would stay outside!

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      • I thought Tru-Green just did grass too, but I tried contacting our former pest control service (used for Carpenter ants, then spider/centipedes inside and outside). I sent an e-mail, a Facebook message and a “Contact Me” on their website – no response. So I was looking around and saw Tru-Green’s ad for eliminating bugs from in/outside your house. They started this service during the pandemic and it is a mosquito spray which does double duty as a pesticide for a litany of bugs. I am sure I usually had ants by late March/early April, but I’ve seen none. The person I spoke with (and I’ve paid in advance to get a discount) told me to spray in advance of my first treatment as ants and other creepy crawlies would come inside … great. He recommended “Ortho Home Defense Max Ant, Roach and Spider” which he said had no fumes and was safe to use even at the kitchen countertop. He also said to use diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the house. Years ago, we had small ants outside only and someone told us to take white chalk and draw a line around the perimeter of the house – ants won’t cross a chalk line. The chalk repels them. I hate those ants, though they don’t bite but they made a trail to the table where I sit and I could not get rid of them for a good 4 weeks.

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        • You must be listed in the Ant’s Travel Guide for great places to eat! I’ve used the Ortho stuff just on the outside of the back door and it did work. We never had an exterminator come out. Seems that they are most interested on visiting in the spring and fall.

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          • Yes, the ants made themselves at home!
            That’s good to know the Ortho product mentioned worked – he said he didn’t smell at all. The other pest control service sprayed in the basement and garage in Spring and Fall and the rest of the sprays were perimeter only.

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  2. We have ghost ants here and guess what I use on them?… Windex Vinegar, just as you mentioned in your comment. But, seriously, I thought Florida was the buggiest place but I don’t know. We do have the crazy love bugs and they are seriously a crazy thing. I wasn’t a chemical person but I caved here and we have a bug guy but he doesn’t come inside, he does it all from the outside unless there are active ghost ants inside and then he puts liquid bait out but it kills the whole nest outside. We had a bazillion box elder bugs on the Tiny Ten and ladybug imposters. I don’t know about the spiders but we have large Palmetto bugs… flying roaches… and they make me scream like a little school girl!
    I think you have a big soft heart… one of the great things about you!

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  3. I had ants in my pantry. Sprinkled sage and hot pepper flakes on the shelves. Bye-bye ants! Big flying spiders?! If they show up here, I will have a panic attack for sure. Teddy likes to bring cicadas in. Drives me crazy. They are noisy, and it’s hard to get rid of them when Teddy takes them under the bed or into the closet.

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  4. So, it’s your fault…yes you! I really don’t know if, indeed it is your care for all critters big or small, or that I have gotten older and life means more. But, now when I absolutely have to kill a bug, I always, yes, always think of you! And when I have to eliminate a spider, I so wish you were here to scoop it up. Now John does it for me…and looks at me like I am crazy!!!!!!!!! But, let’s face it…wasps and yellow jackets are NOT bees….the guilt ends there. LOL

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  5. Bugs are okay – outside. Inside, they are in my turf and it’s adios to them. I cleaned a ceiling light fixture this morning because I saw ‘a’ bug in it. When I got it down I had five stink bugs. We had never seen them in the house until last year, and how or why they get in I do not have a clue. They don’t do anything, they don’t stink, they just crawl around until I dispose of them. I guess they’re better than ants or mice. 🙂

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  6. Sounds like a plague to me!! EEEK! The stink bugs will be our next pain in the tushie – ants used to come in for Teddy’s water AND food but I relocated all of that and they didn’t feel like hiking the extra way. As if we didn’t have enough challenges in the last year we now have to watch out for flying spiders?? I’ve always loved the East Coast but honestly – we need a bug break!

    Hugs, Pam

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    • I’m with you on the break! I’ve never had box elder bugs before even though I’ve lived in this region a long time. One of my neighbors must have an offending tree! Where did you put Teddy’s food? Upstairs? I tried that but used an outside wall and they came in. I now have it on an inside wall and so far so good.

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      • Yep – took me a while to “get the message” about food location…outside walls are like putting up a sign “COME AND GET IT” but they don’t seem to find it around an inside wall. Water bowls are attractors too. DANGED ANTS!
        Hugs, Pam

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        • I only found out in recent years that water dishes are attractors too. I have one on the first and second floor but keep them on inside walls too. At the last house one feeding area was just inside a door. How dumb was that? It’s almost like a sale sign.

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  7. So in other words, you’re a cold blooded killer aren’t you? 😉 I’ve heard about the dish soap and spray water trick, but I was always dubious. You appear to be successful with it, though. I’ve read about those huge spiders too; I’m sure my wife would faint if she saw one. – Marty

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  8. Here in Virginia we have invasions of ugly smelly aptly named Stink Bugs. We also have lady bug invasions. Guests think they are cute but they are not really ladybugs and they even bite. I do hope the flying spider misses us.

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  9. I get sugar ants here every spring. A little salt where I think they come in seems to help but, I’m sorry, I put out those little plastic ant baits. I delight in the idea that they go in the tiny little ant building and steal tasty treats to take back to their buddies just waiting to invade. If they want to live outside, fine. If they come in my house I make no excuses for killing them. And the cats ignore the bait thingies.

    I have heard about those giant spiders. I am grateful I live nowhere near the east coast and hope that you all keep the spiders to yourselves. Why on earth are we getting giant flying spiders and murder hornets and for that matter, box elder bugs. I’ve never had a box elder bug invasion although I’ve seen some outside most places I’ve lived.

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  10. We are plagued by ants every year, no matter how often we puff, spray or drown with boiled water.
    Maya is fascinated by anything that moves……… the spider ended up as dinner, and the solitary ant on the drive was pounced upon. Does thyme really work on ants? We were told that conkers worked on keeping spiders out of the boat and that did.

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  11. You need to put up a “No Vacancy!” sign. 🙂 Good luck in getting them to stay away! Fortunately we don’t have too much problem with bugs. We have had ants before though that drive me crazy, they come in bus loads too. I cannot think of those flying spiders, I hate spiders and am sure that I will probably freak out the first time I see one!

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  12. The timing of your post couldn’t be more perfect, Kate. This morning, I was greeted by a GIANT roach, water bug, palmetto bug (whatever you want to call it) waiting in my cubicle at the office. Ugh…they are so gross. Since there are no cats in the building, I used about a half a can of bug spray before it turned belly-up.

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  13. Denver has lots of maple trees (especially Silver Maples) and thus lots of box elder bugs. They have never been excessive so unless they come inside, the ‘live and let live’ approach applies. Those tiny ‘sugar ants’ that manage to come indoors are another story. They can begin to take over. I’ve heard cinnamon works but not so much the spice as the oil. Baking soda and powdered sugar can be more effective but other homemade remedies (i.e. baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice) also work…with repeated applications. Good luck getting rid of them.

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    • I did vinegar at the old house. The problem with home remedies is that you have to do it daily, sometimes twice daily. I ended up spraying the outside of the back door which is where they seemed to come in. That would give me a longer reprieve.

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  14. Oh, well aren’t you the bearer of sunshiny news about spiders appearing in our near future! (You did hear the sarcasm in that, didn’t you?) I’ve never had to deal with ants but heard from several different sources that ants won’t cross any kind of white powdery thing. Ground up chalk, flour, baking powder or soda, talcum or baby powder, you’re just supposed to lay a line of it down near the area where they seem to trek, and they will stay away. And if the cats feel they want to lick up flour, at least it won’t hurt them! I know an alleged hack for the stink bugs as well. Since I moved to this area, the worst bug problem I have is water bugs (harmless, but big and black and ugly and come from the roach species) and flies. I will scream and grab the fly swatter and beat a water bug to death before depositing its remains in the toilet bowl and flushing them down to the sewer. Seeing them makes me very nauseous. and that nausea lasts for a good 30 minutes after the bug has been sent to bug heaven. Sorry, I just can’t live with them.

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  15. I’m with you about preferring to avoid harmful chemicals in my house. I hope you find a way to safely keep bugs away and your sanity intact. They used to say that ants hated cucumber peels. As a girl I remember putting them around my cat’s food bowl and it sort of worked. I guess.

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  16. It’s the stink bugs that get me. Can’t keep them out of our old house…sigh. I routinely kill (yes, kill) about 3 every evening while I’m reading a few pages before bed. Missed one the other evening and it landed on me in my sleep and woke me up…hate that!!!

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    • I worked at a training facility a long time ago. We set up a breakfast buffet before the class. During the fall the stink bugs would swarm all over the area where the buffet was. We’d have to get there early to get them out because seeing them among the food would be so disgusting. The training was for clients, not employees so we were hypervigilant throughout the day. The building was built into a hill so the there was a dirt bank on the other side of the wall and no amount of spraying kept them all out. Don’t miss those days.

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  17. I send my family on the East Coast pictures of those spiders dropping out of the air. They retaliate with murder hornets.

    The ants are trying to sneak into every room in my house. It’s relentless, and, like you, I don’t want to use poisons. So I try and keep inviting crumbs off the floor and repel them by hand. This means that when I return to a room where I’ve already done battle and spot one, I instantly yell, “Mother$#@&ers!”

    Usually its when my son is at school. Usually.

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