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New stinkbug nightmares. September 21, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading.
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Silence Dogood here. If you’re familiar with any of my previous stinkbug posts, such as “When will stinkbugs go away?” (type this in on our search bar at upper right to read more), you’ll know how much I hate brown marmorated* stinkbugs, those creepy shield-shaped bugs that sneak into your house in fall, lurk unobtrusively in the curtains, then dive-bomb you when you’re, say, writing a blog post. Talk about a test of my cardiac fitness!

Not that they bite or sting or anything. Though I did have a friend who drank one in her coffee. (She said it took days to get the taste out of her mouth.) It’s just scary to hear a buzz come out of nowhere and a bug land on your tee-shirt, pillow, or whatever. They also don’t “stink” in the common sense of the term: They don’t smell like manure, like rotting food, like burned rubber or hair, like garbage, like body odor, like a fish market, or basically like anything else I’ve ever smelled. They smell like stinkbug. Once you’ve smelled one, you’ll never forget that smell.

This is stinkbug season, when the stinkbugs start migrating into house walls to spend a restful winter hibernating away from the cold and brutal outdoor conditions. And, always, some of those stinkbugs get into your house, and the dive-bombing begins. The news has been full of warnings about this. But yesterday, I saw the worst stinkbug news I could ever have imagined: Finally, we have a predator for these Asian imports.

Now, this should be great news. Normally, the reason pests like Japanese beetles spread and ravage our landscapes is that they’re inadvertently imported with produce or whatever and the predators that keep them in check back home aren’t. Once they arrive here, none of our native birds and other natural predators of insects want anything to do with them. So they proliferate, wreaking havoc on our fruits, veggies, and ornamental plants.

But a superhero bug has shown up to consume the evil stinkbug! Only it’s worse than any stinkbug could be for homeowners. At least, for homeowners like me. According to the article I read yesterday, stinkbug carcasses in your home attract carpet beetles. And carpet beetles, as their name suggests, are attracted to carpets. As Sue Kittek, author of the article, chillingly puts it, “after the [carpet] beetles are done with the stinkbugs, they’ll move on to eat woolens and dried goods stored in your house.” In my case, that means the priceless oriental carpets I inherited from my parents. Nooooo!!!!

Fortunately, Sue has an easy solution for this: Make sure you get rid of the dead stinkbugs, either by vacuuming them up or by hand-picking them and then disposing of them. This means regular patrolling of the house. We’re good about this here at Hawk’s Haven, and have never found enough to warrant vacuuming; we just pick up the dead ones and trash them, and pick up the live ones and toss them out the door. (If you do have enough to vacuum, everyone says that you should dispose of your vacuum bags to avoid a dreadful stink.) Whatever the case, don’t forget about those carpet beetles. Yikes! And during stinkbug season, always look in your mug or glass before you drink.

‘Til next time,

Silence

* Apparently, “marmorated” means “marbled,” given the ornate if unimpressive squiggles on the backs of their shells.

The stinkbug’s revenge. May 10, 2011

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

When will stink bugs go away? September 24, 2010

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

“When will stink bugs go away” has become the #1 blog search that leads desperate homeowners to our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, in these stinkbug-laden times. We can relate. There must be 40 stinkbugs on every door here at our rural cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, to say nothing of the stinkbugs clinging to our windows, walls, and deck. Eeeewwwww!!!!!!!

There’s bad news for everyone hoping that the stinkbugs will soon be moving on: forget that. They’re actually moving into your home for the fall and winter months, and have no plans for moving on until spring brings a return of longer days and warmer weather. According to the entomologists, the stinkbugs (technically brown marmorated stink bugs) are trying to move into your walls and insulation for a nice winter nap. But since it’s so comfy inside the house, it tricks some of them into thinking it’s time to wake up, and that’s when they show up on your walls, windows, curtains, doorframes, and etc. And then blast off onto you. AAARRRRHHH!!!!

But we digress. The entomologists suggest a two-pronged approach to dealing with stinkbugs: First, seal every entry point. Add weatherstripping to your doors and windows. Close off the flues in your fireplaces and the vents in your attic. Then, if you still see stinkbugs in your house, call in the exterminators.

But what if you’re organic like us and don’t want a pesticide-drenched house? Poor Silence Dogood has been trying to grab invading stinkbugs with her bare hands and toss them back out the door. Needless to say, loathing all bugs as she does and stinkbugs in particular, this has shredded her last nerve and made life for the rest of us here at Hawk’s Haven chancy at best. But fortunately, an alternative is at hand.

Virginia reader Patricia Carey came on our blog to tell us that her family has had success in combating stinkbugs by spraying them with mint alcohol. As Patricia put it, after spraying them, “they fly around for a few seconds and then die.”

Thanks, Patricia! We’re willing to try it if the invasion gets any worse. Trouble is, we have no idea what mint alcohol is, and a Google search did nothing to enlighten us. We doubt it’s Creme de Menthe, but is it rubbing alcohol, grain alcohol, or vodka with fresh mint muddled in, then strained? Or is there something called “mint alcohol” you can go to a store and buy? Please, readers, help us out.

Meanwhile, good luck battling your stinkbug invasions. Don’t let those bad bugs get you down!

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