Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enough with the Stink Bugs

By now, everyone is all too aware of the stink bug invasion that has reached epic proportions in this first part of Fall.  They have been multiplying and colonizing over the summer, and now they are completely inescapable.  The few I was aware of last year really didn't bother me that much, but the sudden explosion of them in the past couple of months is about to push me over the edge.

I just finished clearing off and power washing my back porch.  Over the summer, piles of coolers, sporting equipment, and golf clubs had accumulated - all the seasonal items that were easier to leave out than put away.   As I started going through them one by one, I was horrified at the number of stink bugs that I found.  They were all in the folds of our umbrellas - at least a dozen on each one - and the golf bags were crawling with them.  It freaks me out just telling about it.  I shook and pounded bags until every last one fell out (I hope).  They quickly scurried away into the nearest crack or crevice.

The worst part is that if you give in to your fury and smash them, you are rewarded with a putrid smell that is their dying insult to you.  Even my pets have learned not to squish them when they play with them.  They just bat them around gently and then let them go on their way.  They are dastardly little creepy crawlies.

At my nephew's outdoor wedding a few weeks ago, just as the bride made her stunning entrance and settled in next to her dashing husband-to-be, a stink bug came buzzing in from above and lighted on the back of her veil.  She was completely unaware, as was the rest of the wedding party, but it was in clear view of those of us in the audience and somewhat distracting from the beauty of the moment.  A lady near the front did what all of us were dying to do but afraid to for fear of causing a scene - calmly rose from her seat, walked up behind the bride, and deftly swiped the offending stink bug from the lovely veil in one quick motion.  Nicely done.

Apparently this stink bug invasion began back in 1998.  Some clever little bug made his way to our shores from China and went about the business of making this new land his home.  The bug was first documented in Allentown, PA and gradually made it's way up and down the East Coast along the I-95 corridor.  I'm not a fan of some of the new immigration laws popping up around the country, but I would fully support deportation of each and every member of the species halyomorpha halys back to China.

halyomorpha halys

So I'm officially declaring war on these buggers.  No more will I gently release them to the outdoors to invade my umbrellas and golf bags.  It's straight down the toilet with them.  If I can't send them back to China, at least I can flush them in the general direction.  It's a war I can't win, but when has that ever stopped us?


Anonymous said...

These damn little bugs have been in MD for some time now (since I was born which was 87). Why do people think they are from China? The over population of them is the bad part. But otherwise they have been around for years!

Christy said...

Thanks for the comment, but please identify yourself in the future. I like to know to whom I'm speaking! :) You’re right that stink bugs have been in the US since well before 1998, but not this particular stink bug. There are several species native to our shores, but this specific brown stink bug (halyomorpha halys) was first identified in the US by entomologists in 1998 as one that is not homegrown. These guys are no dummies. They know their stink bugs. What looks to our untrained eyes to be the same old stink bug that we know and love is a very distinct and different creature in the eyes of the highly bug-educated guys and gals who have been living and breathing insects through college and grad school and in the field. So what’s the big deal? Well, species evolve within a given ecosystem in a very precise balance with the other organisms around them. Our native stink bugs have been kept in check by the natural predators that have evolved to contain the population. They look mighty tasty to our native bird and frog population, but the brown stink bug might be more of an acquired taste. Also, many of our stink bugs are actually predator varieties that feed on other pests and don’t impact crops the way this new arrival does. The point is, this brown stink bug hitched a ride from China in the 1990s, and none of its natural predators did. The biologic scale is tipped in its favor, and we are paying the price. So while your observation is correct to a point, upon further analysis, we’re dorked.