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Doug Clark: Legendary bug slayer lives to fight box elders another day

Tue., April 24, 2012

You could say that my war on Pat Day’s box elder bugs was lost in the glorious sun Monday, when two of the almond-shaped beasties flew an inch past my nose and onto my shirt.

Funny …

I never knew I could do the foxtrot.

“Ahhgghh!” I hollered as I danced.

Even more disgusting was that these buggy dive bombers were conjoined, which is to say they were doing the nasty.

Nothing takes the heart out of a sunny day like getting close to copulating creepy-crawlies.

Lazing around in the sunshine having carnal relations is about all these bugs seem to do.

It’s like they’re on one long GSA convention.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My battles with these winged beasties have become something of a Spokane legend.

You may recall from previous accounts that I subdued my own home invasion of box elders by resorting to chemical warfare.

Buggslayer, it’s called. I found this Minnesota-made pesticide on the Internet and ordered a bottle.

Trust me when I tell you that Buggslayer is to box elders like Kryptonite is to Superman.

Two years ago, I dosed Day’s modest home after she asked for help.

Day is a wonderful lady who suffers from a number of health issues that prevent her from taking a more active bug-killing role. I was only too happy to be her “insect hit man,” as she dubbed me.

And so one warm day my pal Scott Cooper and I sprayed and sprayed and …

Within minutes the annihilation was under way, which is saying something. Day’s house was so buggy that, from the curb, its white walls actually looked reddish brown.


Nothing lasts forever, of course.

Eventually, the magic microscopic land mines wore out.

Day contacted me the other day to report that her nemesis had returned. “I’m finding four or five of them inside every day,” she said.

Box elder bugs are one of the planet’s most annoying inhabitants.

They don’t bite. They’re not poisonous.

They mainly just show up in scrubby droves and never leave.

You know, like the Occupy Movement.

Looking back, I probably should have told Day I’d think it over.

I’m not bonded, after all. Not licensed.

I don’t have a fancy exterminator’s suit or own a panel truck with a giant plastic cockroach mounted on the top.

Want to know what I wore on my hands for protection?

A mismatched pair of snow gloves, that’s what.

But here’s the truth: Buggslayer makes you cocky.

Not to worry, I told Day. My de-bugging services come with a “lifetime guarantee.”

Besides …

I just love murdering these things.

And so on Monday I went out into my garage and located my sprayer under an old tire. Then I mixed up a batch of liquid death, adding some Buggslayer to some water.

I stuck the sprayer on a towel on the backseat of my ’87 Jaguar and drove ever so slowly so as to avoid any toxic mishaps.

Minutes later found me at Day’s home where I surveyed the situation.

Box elder bugs were flitting and flying everywhere.

In the backyard I gasped. At least 100 of them were crawling around on a garage window.

A closer look revealed that most of them were ON THE INSIDE!

“Your garage must be home to the box elder mother lode,” I told Day.

“Want the key?” she asked.

“Heck, no,” I replied. “I’m not going into that nightmare.”

And so I retrieved the sprayer from my Jag and walked to the front of the house.

That’s when I had the above too-close encounter that unnerved me.

While my composure returned, I noticed that bugs were particularly thick at the roofline.

So I aimed the spray nozzle and pressed the trigger and …


No, it was worse than nothing.

Buggslayer oozed out of a joint near the trigger, which soaked through my snow glove and immediately onto my hand.

More dancing.

More: “Ahhgghh!!”

Luckily, there was a half-consumed bottle of water in my car to pour on my contaminated paw.

Bug War, the sequel, was not going well. An inspection revealed that the sprayer’s wand was highly corroded and missing a key trigger part.

Translation: I had mounted an assault with a dead weapon.

I told Day I was done, that the box elders had kicked my butt.

I also told her not to worry.

The bugs may have won this day in the sun. But like Gen. MacArthur and the Terminator, the Douggslayer will be back.

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

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