It is so ubiquitous in the Midwest that it was the very first insect name I learned as a child, the “box elder bug” is the guilty secret of our otherwise glorious autumn. Often described as a “flying cockroach”, these insects congregate on the warm, sunny sides of structures and try to find ways to sneak into said structures when the temperatures fall. Thus, toward evening, Chris and I are kept busy swatting and smashing the little horrors that have invaded our home. Actually, the preferred method is to simply vacuum them up, but we are sometimes startled into swatting (as I said, they FLY). We have a little hand vacuum that does the trick nicely, although it is loud and scares the dog and cats. During box elder bug season, we keep the vacuum in the living room (our south-facing sunny haven) and have to stop television watching and other activities periodically to “bug suck” . . . seriously.
For the first few days, the cats, Godiva and Zamboni are entertained by the red bugs that fly by so enticingly (they are slower than flies and less dangerous than wasps). The novelty wears off, however, and they become as tired of them as we are. Godiva gamely chased one earlier today, but I suspect she actually caught it and tasted it, because she has since disappeared to the haven of the guestroom. They aren’t really much help with hunting them anyway, since they only want to bat at them a few times and then leave them to crawl up my chair, where I will be startled into screams when one climbs over the pages of the book I’m reading.
I remember thinking they were so pretty when I was little. Such a nice shade of red, with a cute little graphic design on their wings. I also remember that my mother didn’t share my fascination with them, and, armed with a tissue, she would snatch them from the walls and windows with a ferocity theretofore unseen. She’d have enjoyed bug-sucking time. I’m loath to admit it, but I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures and no bugs.