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Doug Clark: Helping neighbors, one spray at a time

My mother always taught me that sharing was a godly virtue, and I couldn’t agree more.

Especially when sharing involves my supply of Buggslayer, the planet’s most potent killer of box elder bugs.

And so I knew just what to do when Pat Day e-mailed a cry for help to me regarding her box elder infestation.

“I am sick of them,” she wrote. “At first they seemed like inoffensive creatures, waggling their antennae, exploring, repopulating. Then they started diving into my cold and hot drinks. They crossed a boundary there.

“… So I need to find some of your magic spray stuff, and because I am now old and somewhat broken down, I must hire someone to do the deed.”

I called Day and told her to fret no more. I would take care of her box elder invaders and it wouldn’t cost her a cent.

See, no one enjoys murdering these creepy crawlies more than yours truly.

For you lucky stiffs who haven’t been victimized, box elder bugs are almond-shaped, beetle-like winged creatures with red-and-black markings.

In 2008 I wrote about how my home had long been the target of a box elder plague. When the weather warmed, the bugs would land on the outside walls of my home in the hundreds upon hundreds, where they would mate and sun themselves like lazy nudists.

There’s no rhyme or reason why these things love one home while ignoring other abodes.

Local pest controllers told me they couldn’t help. They told me that for every wave of box elder bugs they’d kill, a new wave would fill the void.

One know-it-all from the Spokane County Extension office suggested that I should simply learn to live with them since the bugs don’t bite and are mostly just a nuisance.

Oh, yeah? Well, you live with ’em, pal.

My answer finally came when I discovered an Internet site advertising Buggslayer, a product specifically made for stamping out box elder bugs. The Minnesota-based inventor told me his “deltamethrin” poison was derived from chrysanthemum flowers, which sounded downright cheery. He said the odorless, nonstaining formula would bind to surfaces and last for days and days.

So I sent him a $38 check for a bottle and …


My box elder problems were solved with one spraying every year.

And so on Monday morning I donned my “Punisher” sweatshirt that is appropriately festooned with a red skull. I struck a menacing pose in front of my bathroom mirror and yelled in a horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger impression:

“Ah am Douggslayer!”

In full combat mode, I went outside and whipped up a fresh 2-gallon batch of Buggslayer brew in my green plastic yard-and-garden sprayer. Then I called my amigo Scott Cooper to see if he was up for another adventure. I thought someone should be with me to dial 911 just in case I misjudged which way the wind was blowing and inhaled too much bug juice.

Cooper jumped at the chance to tag along because he cares deeply about me and knows I’ll always spring for lunch.

Next stop was an address on Spokane’s lower East Side, where I parked my ’87 Jaguar on the street in front of Day’s small white home.

“I may not be bonded, trained or licensed,” I told Cooper, “but I bet I’m the only Jag-driving exterminator in town.”

The joking ended a moment later when we confronted one of the most repulsive sights ever seen outside a ’50s drive-in horror flick. Dozens of fist-size clumps of copulating box elder bugs were attached to the walls and foundation of Day’s house. Thousands of individual bugs seemed to be crawling everywhere else: On the mailbox. On the gas meter. On rocks. On the …

And Monday was a cool day. Day told me that when days are hot it can look like the outside of her home is red.

Oh, gag me with a fork!

“Where do all these things come from?” I wondered aloud.

“Probably from your house,” Cooper deadpanned.

And so the spraying commenced. I misted the bug orgies directly to teach them the dangers of unprotected random sex. I misted the walls. I misted the walkways. Cooper supplied the arm power to keep my tank pressure fully pumped. About midway through the spraying, one of Day’s neighbors wandered over. She wanted to know what I’d charge to take care of her flea infestation.

I told her I didn’t do fleas, although it’s comforting to know there is a fallback career waiting when the newspaper finally wises up and cans me.

Finally we were done. Already I could see the Buggslayer working as box elder bugs began dropping deader than Elvis. As a bonus service, I’m going to keep an eye on the place should it require further dosing.

Yep, sharing is a wonderful thing.

“You’re my insect hit man,” said Day when we met at her back door.

You know, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said about me in years.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at