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New stinkbug nightmares. September 21, 2014

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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.

They’re baaaack. September 24, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Yesterday, I was tending the plants on our deck when something on the railing caught my eye. It looked horrifically familiar. It couldn’t be…. but it was. The stinkbugs have come back! Later on, I saw another one. My arch-enemies have returned with the onset of cold weather, and they’re making for the house.

There are plenty of native stinkbugs in America, and they’re perfectly harmless, staying mostly out of sight and, more to the point, outdoors. But not the inadvertently imported brown marmorated stinkbug. The only good thing about this evil stinkbug is its name. During the growing season, they attack gardens and orchards. Then, when it gets cold, they move into people’s houses. How they get in I have no idea, but they do. And then they attack me.

For those who are blissfully unfamiliar with them, brown marmorated stinkbugs look like prehistoric monsters in miniature. They are ugly, unlike some native stinkbugs that are a beautiful shade of green. And, admittedly, I have about zero tolerance for bugs in the house, with the exception of spiders (as long as they keep away from me), though I do try to follow a live and let live policy, unless what’s managed to get in is a wasp. (Our friend Cole will actually trap wasps that get into his house under an upside-down glass, slide a sheet of paper under the glass, then take it outside and release the wasp. I’m not that tender-hearted. I just shart shouting for our friend Ben to come deal with it.)

Anyway, what makes stinkbugs so evil is that it’s not enough for them to simply invade the house. Because they’re brown, they can lurk unobtrusively on woodwork or curtains, waiting for their chance. Then, with an explosive roar, they blast off, inevitably landing on my shirt if I’m sitting at the computer, or even worse, on my pillow if I’m trying to sleep. GAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Talk about a test of my cardiac fitness, between the shock of the sudden noise of take-off and the even worse shock of the little monsters landing on me. (Of course, OFB finds my shrieks of fright hilarious. Somehow the stinkbugs never go for him.)  

I guess we’ll find out if my heart is up to it this season, because they’re definitely back.

                ‘Til next time,

                          Silence

Stinkbug trap! October 2, 2011

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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

Gack, they’re baaaack! September 23, 2011

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Stinkbugs, that is. Silence Dogood here. Fall has definitely arrived here in our part of scenic PA: the corn and soybean fields are turning gold, walnuts are littering the ground, and night temperatures are dipping into the 40s. It gets dark early and stays dark late. Our friend Ben and I are hopeful that the reign of terror brought on by the wet summer, in the form of a plague of mosquitoes, will soon draw to a close.

But as one plague ends, another begins. Longtime readers know of my hatred of stinkbugs, so you can imagine my horror when I looked out our deck door and saw the first stinkbug of fall clinging to it. Then I saw three more on the kitchen window. “BENNNN!!!”

Mind you, to my knowledge, stinkbugs carry no diseases like West Nile virus or malaria that they can transmit to people or animals. Unlike mosquitoes, they won’t suck your blood. Nor are they likely to bite you. The reasons I loathe them are a) their en-masse migration into the house when the weather turns cold, which is pretty much impossible to prevent, and b) their modus operandi once in the house.

You see, the brown, shield-shaped stinkbugs lurk unobtrusively on doorframes, curtains, and the like. Then they suddenly blast off, with a roaring buzz, and crash-land, usually on your shirt, pillow, or other way-too-close location. Not only does the abrupt takeoff and landing scare the life out of sensitive souls like yours truly, but you then have to deal with getting rid of said stinkbug. Apparently, if you crush them, they emit their trademark stink. I’ve never tried this, instead grabbing the offender and tossing it out the door.

Needless to say, given the number of stinkbugs, this activity keeps me pretty busy in the fall and winter. And grabbing a live bug with my bare hand is not, to say the least, my preferred mode of entertainment. Eeeewwww!!!!

To add insult to injury, there are still plenty of mosquitoes hovering around, too, making life miserable for us and our black German shepherd, Shiloh. Too bad stinkbugs don’t eat mosquitoes, and vice-versa. Looks like we’re in for a really long fall. 

              ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

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

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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

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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.

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

Stinkbugs: The final solution. April 6, 2011

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Silence Dogood here. As longtime readers know, I hate stinkbugs the way vegetarians hate the current crop of offal-loving chefs, and vice-versa. So far this year, I’ve already had to throw three stinkbugs out the door and toss three more deceased stinkbugs into the trash. And the season’s just beginning. If, like me, you’re not the spray ‘em/stomp on ‘em type, you need something to help you banish the evil beasties.

Fortunately, help is at hand, in the form of a growing trend, edible insects. Now, in many countries, insects are considered a delicacy. Take the witchetty grub of Australia or the mopane worm of Botswana. Chocolate-covered crickets, grasshoppers, and ants have been marketed here in the U.S. But most of us have yet to warm up to the idea of feeding canned or dehydrated mealworms, fly larvae, and ants to our outdoor birds, much less snack on them ourselves.

Years ago, our local paper featured an article about edible insects, including a full-color photo of a pizza with, not pepperoni and sausage, but tarantulas and cockroaches. I decided on the spot that this was the ultimate diet tool, especially for pizza-lovers like myself: Just clip the photo, put it on your fridge door, and you’d never, ever, want to eat again.

These days, the trend seems to be eating the most bizarre foods on earth (example: Tony Bourdain consuming the still-beating heart of a cobra on his TV show). U.S. food celebrities travel around the world to eat dogs, sheep eyeballs, and the like. This trend coupled with the growing recognition of how much it really costs the planet to produce beef, pork, and other sources of meat has resulted in a marriage as unnatural as that of the Sting/Jennifer Beales union in “The Bride” [of Frankenstein]: Locavores have concluded that eating insects is the best way to reduce our outsized planetary consumption and carbon footprint.

Now, it seems to me that it might occur to some of these self-righteous idiots that adopting a vegetarian diet would accomplish this goal without forcing people to eat bugs. But noooo. Must have, must eat meat, even if it’s in the form of maggots or roaches, or, say, tarantulas.

Well, alrighty then. If morons who insist that animal-based protein is the sole source of life, and who want to consume locally-produced foods, choose to eat insects, so be it. Chow down, guys! Check out today’s article, “Bugs. It’s what’s for dinner?” online at Yahoo.com, about enthusiastic insectavores attempting to spread the gospel of bug-eating as a way to get that all-important animal-based protein in your diet without paying for beef, chicken, pork, and etc. There’s just one problem: Your “popcorn” katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, and etc. can go for more than $90 per pound, and they’re all imported from abroad.

Gee. Somehow, this seems like the antithesis of buying locally-grown, reasonably priced produce that requires no expensive shipping and is organic and wholesome. Instead, let’s go for the exotic imported bugs to make a point! By eating them, we’re so much more moral than you. 

I guess there’s no point in showing that a vegetarian diet can support our planet, our health, and our local producers. Hey, it’s not trendy like eating bugs or offal! But maybe there’s an upside here after all. Maybe these trendy bug-eaters could add stinkbugs to their diets! Oh, please, won’t you people come down and visit us here at Hawk’s Haven? I’m sure we’ll have plenty of stinkbugs for your next TV competition…

         ‘Til next time,

                        Silence

Big news for stinkbug haters. March 4, 2011

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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.
Tags: , , , , ,
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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