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Stinkbug trap! October 2, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Good news, fellow sufferers of stinkbug invasions! Silence Dogood here. Yesterday, our friend Ben and I were enjoying a now-rare sunny day to take a leisurely drive through the countryside, stopping every now and then to run an errand. Our travels took us to Weaver’s Hardware in search of a refrigerator/freezer thermometer. While we were there, OFB suggested heading for the pest-control aisle (an area we usually avoid like the plague) to see if they had a bug vac, a suggestion for stinkbug control from blogging friend Lynda.

We still don’t know if Weaver’s carries bug vacs, because before we even reached the aisle, we saw a display of stinkbug traps. Could it be?! We thought it would be years before  a stinkbug trap was developed, yet here one was, the Rescue Reusable Stink Bug Trap.

Made by Sterling International in Spokane, Washington, the basic trap includes a pheromone attractant and is designed to be hung outdoors in spring and summer, where it “Catches adult stink bugs before they enter homes” and “Traps younger generations that damage gardens and fruit trees,” according to the package. If you purchase the separate Rescue Stink Bug Light, you can convert your stinkbug trap into an indoor attractant for fall and winter use, where it “Catches stink bugs that have entered homes to overwinter” and “lures insects from indoor living spaces,” again according to the package.

As longtime readers know, I cannot abide stinkbugs. This has nothing to do with their prehistoric appearance—I had a plastic dinosaur that looked rather stinkbug-like when I was a child—and is even a separate issue from the damage they apparently inflict on fruits and vegetables. I simply hate loud, sudden noises and surprise attacks, and stinkbugs specialize in both, blasting off with a motorcycle-like roar from their inconspicuous hiding places to land either on or next to you. It’s enough to shred my last nerve. And of course, one of the main entry points for stinkbug invaders is in the home office where I spend the better part of every day (the other being the kitchen, where I spend hours cooking each day and where OFB and I eat).

All of which is simply to explain why the chronically cash-strapped OFB and I decided to plunk down $21.99 for the trap and an additional $18.99 for the separate light attachment, all for an object that resembles a lava lamp or a really hokey ’50s-era toy spacecraft, depending on your point of view. (It actually reminds me of the screamingly funny blender-based mind-control gadget invented by mad scientist Jim Carrey in “Batman Forever.”)

While OFB, not the most mechanically minded, toiled for hours trying to assemble the trap at home, I did a little online research (incidentally finding that you can buy the basic trap for $16.99 at Amazon or $19.96 at Lowe’s and from Plow & Hearth). Reviews look good, at least for the outdoor version. (It’s a new product, so there aren’t really any testimonials about how well it works in real-home situations yet, as the monsters are just now starting to move in for the winter and the endless heavy rains have slowed them down.) 

The wacky-looking trap is now set up (let’s hope OFB managed to do it right) and standing on a table in our home office, ready to take on invading stinkbugs. Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to watching it in action, since, as the package says, “Trapped insects dehydrate for easy disposal.” Watching trapped stinkbugs struggle and die isn’t my idea of entertainment, to say the least. But I guess it beats watching them crawl into the house, dive-bomb me, and cover every available surface with their brown droppings, not to mention catching them with my bare hands and throwing them out the door.

You can find out more about the traps at www.rescue.com, facebook.com/rescuepestcontrol, and Twitter:@rescue. One caveat: The website says the outdoor traps attract all species of stinkbug. Native stinkbugs are harmless, and some are even beneficial. It’s only the invading brown marmorated stink bug that’s a menace. That’s why the entomologists at the USDA are working so hard to find a control that only attacks the brown marmorated stink bug while leaving all other species unharmed. Fingers crossed that they succeed before spring begins the horrid cycle all over again!

Meanwhile, please let us know if you’ve used traps and if so, how they’ve worked for you.

                  ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

Note: Alert readers will have observed that I use both “stinkbug” and “stink bug” throughout this post. Technically, “stink bug” is correct, so when referring to a species or quoting a source or brand name, I make it two words. But when writing as me, I always call them stinkbugs. They’re awful either way.—Silence

22,000 stinkbugs, 2 sheets of cardboard. May 31, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As longtime readers of Poor Richard’s Almanac know, I hate stinkbugs the way a vegan PETA member hates Sarah Palin. So you can imagine how my skin crawled after our friend Ben spoke with our friend Cole yesterday. They were chatting about two shared passions, marble collecting and plants, when the topic of stinkbugs came up. Cole told OFB that he’d encountered an entomologist in Maryland who’d monitored a house where there were 22,000 stinkbugs. Inside the house.

Cole then noted that the entomologist (that’s a scientist who studies insects) proclaimed that stinkbugs, and their relatives, bedbugs, both smelled like cilantro when they were crushed. I love cilantro. Or, at least, I loved cilantro before I heard this. Now I doubt I’ll ever be able to eat—or even smell—it again. I’m not sure whether to kill the entomologist, Cole, or OFB for passing this information along and ruining one of my favorite treats.

And little did I know that the topic of stinkbugs was just warming up (literally, as we’ll soon see). Our friend Rob dropped in for a few minutes in the afternoon on his way to nearby Bethlehem, PA. As I passed through the kitchen to get a beverage, I saw Rob and OFB bent over Rob’s smartphone.

“Silence! You have to see this!” Hmmm, had Rob taken an adorable photo of our black German shepherd, Shiloh? Wondering how three people could possibly stare at the screen of a smartphone at the same time, I wandered over and realized that they were watching a video.

Turns out, it wasn’t just any video. It was a YouTube video of a guy who’d built a super-ingenious stinkbug trap and was demonstrating how you could build one, too. And the Cro-Magnon-like skills required to build and operate this trap were so simplistic even Luddites like our friend Ben and yours truly could make one. All you need is two pieces of cardboard, about the size of half a standard double-hung window, three furring strips, and a staple gun.

Now, admittedly, the staple gun part is an issue for construction-challenged folks like me and OFB, who are always afraid of stapling our hands to the paper when we use a regular stapler, much less setting off an automated model that fires off staples like a Gatling gun. But I digress.

To make the stinkbug trap, you put down a piece of cardboard and line up three pieces of furring strip cut to fit the cardboard so one is on each outside edge and one is down the middle. Then you put the second piece of cardboard on top and use the staple gun to attach it to the furring strips. Once you’ve attached the strips to the cardboard, you flip the trap over and staple the other piece of cardboard to the furring strips. The end.

Well, maybe not quite the end. The inventor then hung the trap up on the outside wall of his home. Either he didn’t say how he attached it to the wall or I missed that part, but it had to be easy to detach. And please note the critical fact that it is on the outside of the house, so it traps the stinkbugs before they can migrate to the inside. This is an excellent feature, an outstanding improvement over other simple and effective traps like jars of soapy water that will drown stinkbugs inside the house. Eeeewwww. Far better to keep them from ever taking that fateful step indoors.

Okay, so how does the trap work? Simple. The inventor said he was able to trap 70 stinkbugs a day once they started heading indoors in the fall, late September in his area but whenever it starts to cool down where you live. Apparently the stinkbugs, who overwinter inside house walls, emerging into the house in spring after a long winter’s siesta, are tricked into thinking the trap is a really easy-access section of wall and crowd in there.

So, you’re probably thinking, I have 70 stinkbugs in this cardboard trap. Now what? The inventor takes a black plastic garbage bag, holds the trap over it, and shakes. Stinkbugs are genetically programmed to drop down if disturbed before blasting off to safety, so into the bag they go.

And then? The inventor said that yes, you could spray pesticide in the bag to kill the bugs. But his own solution was breathtaking in its simplicity: He seals the bag and dunks it in his hot tub. Safe, organic, and effective. (Though I have to wonder if a pervasive scent of cilantro hovers over his hot tub.) And of course the trap itself is endlessly reusable as long as it doesn’t get wet.

As noted, our friend Ben and I are technophobic Luddites; we don’t access YouTube here for fear it will spread viruses to our laptops, which are (along with our brains) the source of our income as writers and editors. So I’m ashamed to say I can’t even give the inventor of this brilliant stinkbug trap credit, not just for his breakthrough, low-tech solution, but for selflessly sharing it for free on YouTube rather than patenting it, cranking out a commercial version, and stamping it with “As Seen on TV!”

OFB says interested readers can go to YouTube and search for “stinkbug traps” and find the video. I, er, hope he’s right. And Mr. Inventor, whoever you are, you have now joined the pantheon of my Official Heroes. I just wonder if it’s too late to hang one inside the house to catch the bazillion that are buzzing around here?!

           ‘Til next time,

                       Silence

When the question is stinkbugs, the answer is… May 15, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading.
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Here in the vicinity of Allentown, Pennsylvania, the epicenter of the stinkbug invasion, our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and everyone around us are fighting what appears to be a losing battle to keep the horrid bugs out of our homes. Even in the rural area where Silence and I live, the stinkbugs have been literally coming out of the woodwork, and we’ve been catching and tossing between 10 and 20 out the door every day. Silence can barely sleep for fear that one of the alien invaders will land on her the moment she drifts off.

Fortunately, others are battling the Forces of Evil with greater success. And, thanks to Spencer Soper and his weekly “On the Cheap” column in our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, we can now share the definitive solution—so to speak—with you. Silence, who hates stinkbugs with a passion reserved by most people for politicians and credit-card companies, is a devoted fan of Spencer and “On the Cheap.” So you can imagine her excitement when the two came together this morning.

“Ben! BEN!!! Look at this! Spencer Soper’s ‘On the Cheap’ column is about stinkbugs! It’s called ‘Stink bugs no match for cheapster’! And guess how the guy dealt with the stinkbugs!”

“Mint rubbing alcohol?” I hazarded, since a number of our blog’s readers have proposed that as an effective solution.

“Nope.”

“Uh, Windex?” One reader had reported victory from turning the famed blue glass-cleaner upon the enemy.

“Nope.”

“Flame-throwers?!” 

“Wrong again, and spare me the sarcasm, please. What’s the oldest organic gardening bug control in the world?”

“A jar of soapy water.”

“Bingo!”

Turns out, cheapster Dale Guth of nearby Alburtis, PA discovered after trying a so-called Stink Bug Killer spray from his local hardware store (which failed to do more than give the stinkbugs a bath) that the old tried-and-true solution worked best. He squirted Dawn dishwashing liquid into the bottom of a small, individual-sized applesauce container (yogurt or Jell-o cups would work just as well), filled it with warm water, and used a Popsicle stick to push the stinkbugs in so he didn’t have to touch them. In 30 seconds, they were dead.

Organic gardeners have been using jars of soapy water to hand-pick and drown bugs of all kinds, from slugs and caterpillars to Japanese beetles, since the Sixties. Grab the pests, toss them in the jar, dump the contents (once you’re sure the bugs are deceased) on the compost pile. Refill the jar with soapy water, repeat. Why didn’t anybody think of trying it on stinkbugs before now?!

Dale points out that he collects at least 8 or 10 stinkbugs before dumping the contents of the cup into the toilet and flushing to conserve water. And he has his stinkbug-catching cups positioned at strategic points around the house so one’s always at hand when a stinkbug appears.

Thanks, Dale, and thanks, Spencer, for a great, low-tech, low-cost stinkbug “solution.” (Pun intended.) The column is really humorous, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy reading it at www.mcall.com/onthecheap, not to mention watching the accompanying video. Especially if stinkbugs are terrorizing you this spring.

Big news for stinkbug haters. March 4, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Anyone who cherishes warm, fuzzy feelings for stinkbugs, please stop reading now.

As the rest of you probably know, my own personal battle against these diminutive personifications of evil has been raging for several years now. I’d say the result has been pretty much a draw: I’ve never killed a stinkbug (I catch and toss them out the door), and so far, their surprise-attack launches haven’t killed me. But there’s always a first time—having a stinkbug suddenly blast off from some hiding place and land on my tee-shirt is a definite test of my cardiac fitness—and, while there are bazillion of them, there’s only one of me.

So you can imagine my delight when our friend Ben brought in the local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, this morning, and the cover story was “For Stink Bugs, the Big Sting?” The good news for folks like me who are sick of stinkbugs (technically, brown marmorated stink bugs) invading their homes—not to mention folks with stinkbug allergies and farmers and orchardists who’ve had to watch these Asian invaders decimating their crops—is that the USDA has identified an Asian wasp that is the stinkbug’s natural enemy.

The Trissolcus wasp, the size of a comma, poses a threat to the infinitely larger stinkbugs because it lays its own eggs in stinkbug eggs. The parasitic wasp larvae hatch into their own free all-you-can-eat stinkbug cafeteria, and eat their way out, killing their hosts in the process. It’s sort of like a computer virus disabling Google, or David taking out Goliath.

“Tests have shown that these wasps will destroy up to 80 percent of the stink bug population,” according to Kim Hoelmer, the scientist helming the project for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the wasps are unlikely to be approved for release until 2013. But that’s not really bad news, since it’s desperately important that the scientists verify that the wasps won’t parasitize beneficial insects as well as the stinkbugs before unleashing them in our environment. We’ve seen what happened in the past when well-intentioned [descriptor suppressed] released starlings, kudzu, multiflora roses, prickly pear cacti, and numerous other delights into our defenseless ecosystem. Better safe than sorry.

Fortunately, it turns out that the USDA is hard at work on other controls as well. The most promising, from my point of view, is a pheromone attractant. This basically lures horny stinkbugs into a trap by synthesizing their own sex attractor scents. Like roach motels and Japanese beetle traps, which use the same technique, the stinkbugs go in, they don’t come out. I just wish we had a few of those ready to hang in our own yard, now that spring is coming and the *$%#@!! stinkbugs are sure to be emerging from their winter hiding places any day.

Yes, we’re probably in for another ghastly stinkbug season this year. But stinkbugs, listen up: The Terminator is coming.

          ‘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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“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!

Stinkbugs: The invasion has started. September 21, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Alert readers may recall an earlier post, “The stinkbugs are coming!”, in which I quoted entomologists who predicted “an epic year for stinkbugs.” Well, they’re here.

I can’t look up without seeing the ominous shield-shaped silhouette on a window, screen or door. Every time I open a door, one of the evil creatures blasts inside the house, however fast I close it. (In my opinion, stinkbugs don’t fly; they simply blast off from wherever they’re lurking with a roar like a gunning motorcycle, and shoot forward to their next location, which all too often is the front of your shirt.)

This forces me to seize the intruder stinkbug and hurl it back out the door. (I can’t say what the stinkbugs make of this experience, but having to touch a live stinkbug ranks right up there with picking up after the dog or cleaning up hairballs as far as I’m concerned.) One especially audacious stinkbug buzzed right back into the house after its first expulsion, again before I could shut the door, and I had to touch it twice. Eeeewwww!!!!

Yesterday had to be the worst ever, stinkbug-wise. I needed to run errands in town, so I opened the front door, kicking stinkbugs away from the sill as I went out. (Fortunately, none made it inside that time.) I opened the car door; there was a stinkbug inside the door. I stopped for gas; there was a stinkbug on the gas pump. After pumping the gas, I decided to clean the windshields: There were two stinkbugs on the front windshield and one on the rear. And on it went. Worst of all, a stinkbug landed on me while I was reading in bed and the hapless OFB had just fallen asleep. My bloodcurdling scream probably deprived him of at least three of his nine lives (though after recovering his wits, even Ben had to acknowledge that I couldn’t help it).   

AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I hate stinkbugs!!! Go away, you evil things. Find something better to do with yourselves, like plunging en masse into the ocean. At least take up a useful hobby like eating poison ivy or kudzu. It’s starting to look like a very bad fall…

            ‘Til next time,

                          Silence

The stinkbugs are coming! August 31, 2010

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

Stiiiiiink bugs. October 12, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Faithful readers know of my unending battles with my mortal enemy, stink bugs, here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. They manage to insinuate themselves into our house, then lurk unobtrusively until my attention is on something else. Then, RRRRRrrrrrBOOM!!!, they dive-bomb onto me or a nearby surface, scaring the hell out of me and providing yet another test of my cardiac fitness. Just yesterday, I saw three stink bugs waiting their chance near the front door. Grrrrrr. I hate stink bugs.

Today, however, I was thinking about garlic, not stink bugs, while writing a post for our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac. Our local paper had mentioned a Dracula Dip Contest at a nearby garlic festival and it captured my attention. Dracula Dip! Priceless! (For recipes, search this blog for “Dracula dip.”)

Admittedly, to many people, garlic stinks. Stink bugs apparently stink if you squash them, hence the name. But I was still not prepared to go to our WordPress “dashboard stats” page and see that someone had come on our blog looking for “garlic stink bugs.” Eeeeeewwwww!!!! Let’s hope they weren’t planning to try them with the Dracula Dip.

         ‘Til next time,

                   Silence

“There was a stink bug in my room…” May 23, 2009

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Silence Dogood here (again). An unfortunate reader came onto our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, with what struck our friend Ben and me as a truly dramatic search phrase: “There was a stink bug in my room and now.”

Forget about “It was a dark and stormy night.” Imagine the high drama, the verbal pyrotechnics that could be created if you used that as the opening line to your new novel or short story!

“There was a stink bug in my room and now my wife has left me, the dog died, and the cat has eaten my homework.”

“There was a stink bug in my room and now an earthquake has destroyed Chicago.” 

“There was a stink bug in my room and now I hear that Simon Cowell is leaving ‘American Idol’.”

“There was a stink bug in my room and now I think I’ll have chicken cacciatore for dinner.”

The possibilities are endless.

We should know. There are stink bugs in our room(s) all the time. When we see them, we tend to grab them with a hunk of paper towel and toss them out the door. Otherwise, they’ll blast off from wherever they’re lurking and create an instantaneous test of our cardiac fitness. We don’t want to kill them, since we understand that this produces a terrific stink, hence their name, but we’re not interested in coexistence with these unpredictable projectiles, either. So out the door they go.

We frankly dread to think what followed the “and now” of our visitor’s search. But we hope he or she is okay.

         ‘Til next time,

                       Silence

Just when you think… March 3, 2009

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Silence Dogood here. Just when you think things couldn’t get worse, sure enough, Mother Nature is here to point out how naive you are. Our friend Ben and I dropped my ancient but spirited little red VW Golf, the Red Rogue, off to get a much-needed oil change and tune-up last night, intending to pick it up tonight.

But by this morning, the rather balmy, springlike weather had degenerated into gale-force winds, dumped 4 inches of sleet and snow on us, and dropped the temps into the single digits. This is not, to begin with, my idea of a good time. But it almost pales beside the spectacle of OFB rushing to the bathroom every five minutes to either throw up or try to throw up. (When I called the auto place to tell them we would have to pick the car up tomorrow night instead of tonight, the owner cheerfully told me that his brother was out today for the same reason. “It’s really going around.” Oh, great.)

At least we’ve kept our power. I’ve got a baked potato in the oven and asparagus on the stove (for me), am heating up some soup (for Ben), and all the critters, outdoors and indoors, have been fed and the plants watered. I staggered out to get the mail and take the trash and recycling to the road, and managed to get back inside before losing consciousness (with that relentless wind, it really is limb-numbingly cold). No trees have fallen onto the house. Things could, I was thinking, be a lot worse.

Sitting back down at the computer, I was just starting to thaw out when I saw it. I don’t know about you, but I have cheering icons set out around my computer: a postcard of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, enticing me to return; some lovely gems and crystals in a tiny dish; photos of my heroes, including one of a famous statue of our blog hero and mentor, Ben Franklin; an ancient and decorative glass canning jar of marbles, courtesy of our friend Ben. Whew! At least something’s familiar and comforting,even when everything else seems to be crashing down around you. But no.

To my horror, I noticed that the Blue Ridge Mountains in my postcard seemed to be moving. They were moving. No, they weren’t moving. Instead, my nemesis, a stink bug, was crawling across the postcard and causing a visual ripple. The stink bug continued its journey across my postcard, across my lottery ticket, and onto my little dish of crystals. It then crawled onto the stand that holds my laptop. It turned towards me, waved its hideous tentacles in my direction, and appeared to be threatening me with imminent takeoff. “Die, monster! I will blast off onto your top and cause heart failure this time for sure!”

Um, no. No way. I confess to the most cowardly reaction imaginable: I fled from the home office and went to check on OFB and see how he was doing. Catching a ghastly vomit-inducing bug seemed like nothing compared to being attacked by an actual bug. AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

As observant readers have noticed, I’ve returned to the laptop now. But that’s not because I’ve somehow vanquished the stink bug. Oh, no. It’s simply vanished for the moment. I have no doubt that it’s lurking, waiting its chance to kill me off.

Stink bugs! Aaaarrgghhh. Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse!

            ‘Til next time,

                          Silence

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