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The stinkbug’s revenge. May 10, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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2 comments

Silence Dogood here. Spring brings us daffodils, sweet breezes, and… stinkbugs. Once the weather finally warmed up here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA, the stinkbugs literally started coming out of the woodwork as they emerged from their winter hibernation in the walls of our house.

I’ll admit it, I hate bugs. I try to bear with them; really I do. I leave spiders alone in our house so they can catch and dispatch other alien invaders, unless they’re in the tub. I try to turn a benign eye on bees, beneficial insects like pollinator flies and ladybugs, dragonflies, and the like outdoors, and enjoy watching butterflies as much as the next gardener. I realize that ants, dung beetles, and the like are serving useful purposes. I just don’t want them getting in the house, or worse yet, getting on me. Feeling anything crawling on me is cause for an immediate screaming, leaping jig that would make the world’s best break-dancer look like a lazy slob. I’m convinced that whatever it is must be a tick, my arch-nemesis, and it’s coming to get me.

So imagine this scene:

It’s 5 a.m., and I’m trying to pretend that this horrid weather has not given me yet another sinus headache, that I didn’t just have a very bizarre dream involving boats of a design of my own invention, and that it isn’t starting to get light. I just…want… to… sleep. I’ve almost managed it when I realize that my left hand, extended in the direction of our friend Ben, has begun to itch. I put my right hand down on it and realize that something under my hand is moving.

Silence: AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! Ben! BEN!!!!!

Our friend Ben: Mmmpf.

Silence: There’s a stinkbug on my hand!!! BEN!!!! Wake up! Get it off me! [Shaking hand furiously.]

OFB: Mmmpf…

Silence: BENNNNNNNNNNN!!!!! Get it off! GET IT OFF!!!!! Oh.

OFB: Uh, say what, Silence? What’s going on here?

Silence: There was a stinkbug on my hand. But I think it just flew away. [Turns on light, searches bed for stinkbug. Turns off light. Starts to go back to sleep. Stinkbug flies back and lands on finger.]

Silence: AAAAAGGHHHH!!!! BEN! Get up! Get it off! Get it out of here! BEN!!!!!!!!!!!

OFB: Ummmm, OK, OK. [Turns on light, lurches out of bed.] Geez, Silence, you sure are making a racket.

Silence: GRRRRRRRRRRRR. [Stares at OFB, who, far from removing the stinkbug, appears to be rummaging in a dresser drawer.] Ben, what are you doing?! Get this bug off me and get it out of here right now!!!! [Furiously shaking hand; stinkbug lands on sheet.] Why are you looking for your tee-shirt?!

OFB: Well, you told me one of our readers said stinkbugs bite. I thought I’d pick it up in the tee-shirt before taking it outside and…

Silence: GRRRRRRRRRRRRR…

[curtain; possibly curtains for OFB]

We know we’re not alone in our plight, because readers have been coming onto our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, in droves in recent weeks looking for our earlier stinkbug-related posts, “When will stink bugs go away?,” “Big news for stinkbug haters,” and, of course, the classic, %$#@!!*%$ stink bugs. [WordPress seems to insist that this title is a link, but trust me, it isn’t. Sorry about that!] Stinkbug season has arrived. For more about these horrid alien invaders, and for some ingenious tips from readers on how to keep them away, I suggest that you search out these posts by typing their titles in the search bar at upper right. Don’t forget to read the comments!

Apparently, preventive action with mint alcohol and direct assault with Windex both work wonders. We’re still in the catch-and-release phase here, but if we start seeing clusters outside on the front door as we did last year, we’ll definitely wipe down the door with mint alcohol (look for it in the rubbing-alcohol section of your local pharmacy) and hope it doesn’t dye our white door green!

              ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

The stinkbugs are coming! August 31, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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5 comments

Eeewww, stinkbugs. Silence Dogood here. As longtime readers know, stinkbugs are my personal nemesis. I hate the way they get into the house, lurk unobtrusively on a window or door frame, and then, when you’re trying to write or cook something or, worse yet, sleeping, they blast off and land on your shirt (or nightgown, as the case may be). AAAAHHHHHHHH!!! Talk about a test of your cardiac fitness.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to see this headline from The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning: “Stinkbugs are coming to a home near you.” (Read all about it at http://www.philly.com/.) This Doomsday article contained such cheerful comments from entomologists who’d been studying area stinkbugs as “We’re expecting an epic year for stinkbugs” and “When they’re [i.e., innocent homeowners such as yours truly] knee deep in stinkbugs, they’re going to want to know what to do about it.”

Knee deep in stinkbugs. AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! In my opinion, one stinkbug is one stinkbug too many. Hundreds or thousands of stinkbugs?! I tell you, it’s time to move to Nova Scotia. But don’t sit there feeling smug if you don’t live, like us, in scenic PA, apparently the stinkbug capital of the world. Stinkbugs have now invaded New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, New York, California, and Oregon. And they’re definitely on the move, so no doubt they’ll arrive in your home state before long.

As house pests, stinkbugs aren’t really all that bad, except for the blastoff scare factor. Unlike ladybugs, fleas, bedbugs, and spiders, they don’t bite. (Mercifully, we don’t deal with ladybug invasions here, and I had no idea they bit people until a friend told me her horror story. Yikes!) Unlike cockroaches, grain moths, and various tiny beetles, they don’t get in your food supplies and spoil them. Apparently, all they’re trying to do is stay warm in your house’s walls and insulation. Ugh, that’s creepy enough. But since they inevitably end up inside the house and on you, they are The Enemy.

The stinkbug experts in the article suggested a two-pronged approach to controlling the invasion: Sealing entry points like attic vents, doors, and windows, and calling in professional pest controllers to spray pyrethroids where stinkbugs were likely to be congregating. According to the entomologists, the time to act is right now: Unlike ladybugs and other insects who move into homes when the weather turns cold, stinkbugs head for the house in late August and September, and a preemptive strike is most likely to keep them in check.

Fortunately for us, here at Hawk’s Haven we’ve never had enough stinkbugs to need to spray them. We just try to avoid the live ones and toss the dead ones out the door whenever we find them. We’ve never encountered the trademark stink that gives the bugs their name (which is technically brown marmorated stink bug; we’re still trying to find out what “marmorated” means). But I was intrigued to see that stink described as “like stale perfume” in the article. Anyone who’s kept a bottle of perfume too long can instantly relate.

As I write this, I haven’t yet seen any stinkbugs in the house. But looking up, I see a gigantic spider slowly lowering itself outside the window, its shadow looming like something from a B-grade horror movie. AAAAHHHHHH!!!! Spider, please, go away. Unless your favorite food happens to be stinkbugs…

            ‘Til next time,

                      Silence

%$#@!!*%$ stink bugs. May 3, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading.
Tags: ,
29 comments

Silence Dogood here. Spring has sprung in our little corner of Pennsylvania. And that means the robins have come up from the South, the bulbs have peeked out of the ground, and the stink bugs have come out of the woodwork.

Here at Hawk’s Haven, we are reluctant hosts of the wonderfully-named brown marmorated stink bug. (And if anybody knows what “marmorated” means, please let us know.) But its name is the only thing that’s wonderful about it. Apparently, this stink bug is an agricultural pest in its native area of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, where it causes disfiguring catfacing—sunken brown streaking—on fruits like apples and other produce. But I can’t frankly say if it’s become a fruit-grower’s nightmare since its accidental importation into the U.S., because I’ve never actually seen a stink bug outdoors. (Have you?) Instead, they’ve become a terror to homeowners everywhere, popping up out of nowhere and dive-bombing normally sweet-natured souls like yours truly.

Here’s how it works: You’re in the kitchen cooking, at the computer typing, on the sofa reading, or—the ultimate horror—in bed sleeping. Meanwhile, a thumbnail-sized, brown, shield-shaped stink bug is lurking inconspicuously on the wall near the ceiling, on a door or windowframe, or on a curtain. Suddenly, like Evel Knievel leaping the Snake River Canyon on his motorcycle, the stink bug explodes from its resting place with a roar, blasting across the intervening space to crash-land onto the kitchen counter, the computer, your shirt, or the pillow about a millimeter from your face. AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! You’ve either been concentrating on what you were doing or sleeping. You haven’t been contemplating the daredevil attack of the stink bug. You are now on the seventh of your nine lives. Another test of your cardiac fitness.

As if all this has not shredded your last nerve, you now have to endure the ridicule which someone who shall remain nameless (are you reading this, Ben?!) inevitably heaps on you for the screaming which accompanied the stink bug attack. Within seconds, the sound of “Whoo! Whoo!” rings out from some recess of the house, followed by derisive laughter. Before you can even retrieve the paring knife to follow this hooting back to its source, the stink bug, having recovered from the shock of impact, blasts off again.

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! “Whoo! Whoo!” Grrrr.

Why are they called stink bugs? Apparently, they have glands that emit some kind of stench if you squash them (eeewww) or vaccuum enough of them up (eeeeewwwww!!!!!!). We wouldn’t know. We just leave them lurking, or in their other favorite posture, upside-down dead on the floor. (Actually, at that point, we do toss them. But the dead bugs don’t stink.)

Stink bugs won’t hurt your house. They won’t hurt your pets (all of whom studiously ignore them). They won’t even hurt you. But boy, will they hurt your pride! RRRRRRrrrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrrrrrBOOM! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! “Whoo! Whoo!” Grrrr. *&%$#@!!!! stink bugs!    

                        ‘Til next time,

                                 Silence  

 

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