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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,




1. Brian - March 25, 2011

You mention a Pheromone attractant and refer to it as some sort of trap. Where can a person get these traps and are they available to purchase? Are they like beetle traps that have the scent bags in them? Where can I purchase these. I HATE the stupid things.

Sorry, Brian, to my knowledge the USDA has not yet released stink-bug attractant traps for sale. (Darn!) If I hear any updates, I’ll let you know!

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