While many of us are battling a year-round war, others feel blanketed in the illusion that they will never have need to be concerned. Those who foolishly believe they will remain unaffected by what reports predict will be stink bug invasions of "Biblical proportions" over the next few years, should shake off the delusion quickly and start preparing a course of action. They're coming, like it or not, and like little Terminators, encased in their seemingly bulletproof shells, they WILL be back. The question is...will YOU be ready?
|Stink bug on my kitchen chair cushion, searching for free continental breakfast.|
Why listen to anything I have to say? Well, let me start by bringing you up to date on some of the reasons I'm so, um...passionate on this subject.
We have joked for years that stink bugs are convinced that our home is their mothership. They really seem to love it here, perhaps thinking the walls that we call home are some sort of all-inclusive stink bug resort. After years of research, we have to logically attribute their love of our home to our proximity to farm lands, acres of fine dining for these lil' stinkers. In order to understand why they hole up inside our home, their cabana, you'll need to learn some background on how and why they're here in the first place.
Here's a fantastic overview about the brown marmorated stink bug http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug
|We found NINETEEN stink bugs on the outside of our screen last September, all desperate to get inside our home for a luxurious winter stay. For sadistic fun, I recommend flicking screens.|
Spring here for humans is met with mixed emotions now that we we share our homes and land with stink bugs. We experience an initial sense of joy in opening up our windows for the first time after a winter's chill, only to have the day ruined by the inundation of jazzed up stink bugs, waking from wherever they've been hiding in our homes. Any time we try to get out into the sunshine, several eager stinkers excitedly buzz past our heads with the same idea. They want to start the season right, with a tasty meal, some buzzing with friends in the fields, and when the mood is right, some serious mating and egg laying.
|Stink Bug Scream|
|Stink bug vacationing at our resort|
And then there was the time I knelt down to tie my shoe only to find a stealth stink bug embedded in my laces. Or the time I found my 6-month-old daughter pawing away at one who had stunk all over her usually berry-fragranced hands. If you've ever had your hands hit by a stink bug, you know how difficult it is to get that smell to fade. Hmmm...that might actually be a good deterrent for nail biters.
My most memorable incident occurred when I was teaching a class of 10th graders, assessing a presentation when I felt a tickle on my ankle. Looking down I found the most heinous of all Halyomorpha halys INSIDE my tights, writhing, trapped against my flesh. With 10 minutes left in the class period, I mustered up every bit of strength and determination I had in me to keep my cool. As soon as the bell rang to dismiss the students, you can bet I sprinted to my desk to tear those tights off as fast as I could. My revulsion knew no bounds, and I only hope no students caught me frantically tearing my undergarments off behind my desk. I can only imagine...
How do I keep my sanity through all this? I just force myself to envision what it would be like to be infested with scorpions instead.
|Stink bugs who have overindulged at our resort can be found in various lounge areas here.|
After years of experience, we have a simple method to lessen the number of bugs giving our home a five star review. We use old pill bottles, remove the labels so we don't pop a stink bug instead of a vitamin C, and scoop up any bugs we spot. This method prevents the bugs from releasing their stink. After we have gathered several, we leave the bottle in the freezer overnight to ensure their demise. Then we simply toss them into the trash. We have also created a mass grave in our compost heap, in hopes that the living will spy the atrocity and warn others to steer clear of this deceitful resort, but no such luck. The free room and board is, unfortunately, too tempting.
|Our effective Stink Bug Catcher! Notice we have placed "XX" on the lid and created a humorous new label to prevent any confusion of its contents.|
One last thing- clean up. As if the honor of running a stink bug resort is not rewarding enough, we must also consider the issue of housekeeping. Yes, these darling stink bugs POOP...a lot. If you begin finding what look like black coffee droplets, oh, say EVERYWHERE, then you're going to need to up your game. With two children and a large Rottweiler living in this house, you'd think I have enough feces to manage, but alas, we'll need to add stink bug poo removal to my housekeeping list of doodies. Whoops. I mean duties. Fortunately, stink bug waste is easily tackled with plain old soap and water. A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will take care of any stubborn droppings. Extra fun!
|Stink bug poo that has dripped down the wall. Adds such charm to any home.|
|Fecal splatter on the blinds, a stunning view|
|Typical droppings. Do reconsider "The 5 Second Rule" when you visit our home.|
The harsh reality is that stink bugs aren't going anywhere any time soon. They will continue to congregate on our windows, defecate all over every surface of our house, buzz loudly as they fly through the air- playing mysterious banjo notes as they fly into the instruments hanging from our walls. Their presence is more than just a mild annoyance, but it is a constant reminder of the delicate balance of our ecosystem and the dangers involved in accidentally introducing new species on foreign soil. Just remember to keep your cool and do some research so that you can educate yourself about these creatures. Hey, E.T. was ugly but we all grew to love HIM. Anything can happen...
List of Sources:
Jacobs, S. (2012, January). Brown Marmorated Stink Bug- Entomology. Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences. http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug.
Robertson, S. (2010, September). Stink Bug Scream.The Botetourt View. http://blogs.roanoke.com/botetourtview/2010/09/stink-bug-scream/.
Wist, J. (2011, March). Md. Rep. Says Stinkbugs Threat of "Biblical Proportions". NBC4 Washington. http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Md-Rep-Says-Stinkbugs-Threat-of-Biblical-proportions-118292439.html.