Boxelder Beetles invade Witt’s End every few seasons. They are the most unnecessary and repulsive of bugs.
(Their scientific name is Boisea trivittata. They are of the Order of True Bugs. Google it if you must, though I warn you: the details are disgusting. I regret having done so and hope to forget everything I saw and read as soon as possible.)
Using a no doubt, non-environmentally friendly poison we kill the beetles by the hundreds.
(I think thousands.
Years ago it honestly was thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands.)
Later Scott uses a leaf blower to scatter their carcasses away from the house, ( I think of them as tiny bits of poisonous fertilizer), while the poison remains. Invisible, dried streaks of it adorn our house walls, visible streaks cloud the windows.
When the rag-tag remnants of the pest’s once-thriving population land upon the windows or walls, touching the poison film, they fall off and die. This is quite comforting and will continue until rain or snowfall washes the poison away.
(N.B. Such times are the only times in the entire and utter history of my life when I haven’t looked forward to rain.)
The poison causes my windows to appear dirty. In need of a thorough polishing. Poison clouds obscure the lawn beyond, blurring it and the dogs running this way and that.
I tell myself it’s mist. It’s a protective barrier. It’s fine dust, trapped outside; unable to get in.
(Naturally this doesn’t work, because I know it’s really poison.)
We sometimes find the bugs inside as well. They can crawl in through the smallest crevice, or follow someone in; clinging to a shirt sleeve, alighting upon their shoulder.
I find myself yelling “Close the door quick!” quite often during invasion times.
This morning a lone beetle appeared upon my windowsill, seemingly arriving from nowhere – into here.
They do that – appear suddenly. Blink into existence. One moment nothing, the next…
The next I’m calling someone to Get that damn thing! Or, (blecch – the horrified disgust), scrambling for a tissue myself. To squish it. To flush it afterward.
(I always flush them. If the squishing didn’t kill them I figure drowning will.)
They can fly you see. They fly and click.
(And pop! when squished. A fact I find repulsive but in which my youngest son takes a grim satisfaction.)
Until we found this particular poison we used Dawn Dishwashing Liquid mixed with water to kill them. (I forget the exact proportions. This occurred during my Wilderness Path years, when my mind was as foggy as my windows are today.
Though I don’t believe that particular fog was poison.)
Evidently Dawn contains some something which dissolves the beetle’s shell’s outer coating; leaving them vulnerable. Ultimately killing them.
I remember worrying lest Dawn changed its formula, or went out of business. I wanted to stockpile it.
Now I want to stockpile the poison.
I’m uncertain just where one would store stockpiled poison.
(Would there be a limit on how much we’d be allowed to buy I wonder?)
In the garage I suppose.
Birds won’t eat Boxelder Beetles.
Not even chickens, a very telling fact.
I have kept chickens for many years and know firsthand they will eat anything. Their own poop. Other chicken’s poop. Other chickens. Actual friends who, having succumbed to some mysterious chicken ailment or, one hopes, old age, croaked and are lying dead in the coop.
Yes chickens are cannibals. (And roosters are horrible things who actually, honest to God peck one another’s eyeballs out on purpose).
Yet even they refuse to eat Boxelder Beetles.
Illustrating how right I am and just how awful they (the beetles) are.
Communities filled with Boxelder Trees have to contend with the beetles on a yearly basis. I’ve seen houses on the news covered with the filthy things; invasions even worse than those we’ve suffered.
Imagine the entire side of your house moving.
A tiny, tramping army, glittering repulsively in the sun.
Boxelder Trees are actually Ash-Leafed Maples. They typically grow in moist bottomlands, by swamps, along streams and ponds.
And yet (yes, here’s the rub.)
And yet we have no Boxelder Trees – not a one. They don’t grow on these hills, in this small, dry canyon community where no swamp, no moist bottomlands, no ponds or streams exist. I googled Boxelder Trees, discovered their defining characteristics. I downloaded pictures of them on my phone, searched during evening walks, peered vainly out the car window while slowly driving to the library or the market.
We have no Boxelder Trees, ponds, or lovely swampy, moist bottomlands and yet we are, most years, inundated with freaking, disgusting, horrible hoards of stupid, damn, god-awful Boxelder Beetles.
And I wanna know why.