Stink Bug Invasion
Unless you’re stinkin’ rich, stink is not a good adjective. And when it comes to describing insects, stink bugs are in a category of their own. These Asian natives were first spotted in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1996, and since that time their numbers have grown virtually unchecked. Formally known as brown marmorated stinkbugs, the critters can now be found in 39 states.
Stinkbugs earned the name not from the way they smell when alive, but the unpleasant odor they emit when squashed. But the “stink” is only half of it. Asian stinkbugs are ravenous consumers of fruits and vegetables including peaches, apples, peppers, tomatoes, and grapes. They stick their needle-noses through the skin of produce and suck out the succulent liquids within. What’s left is a scared, bruised husk with a mealy texture unsuitable for sale as fresh produce.
It was a bad year for stinkbugs in 2013. Farmers in Wisconsin were using 5-gallon buckets to evict them from barns. In the Atlantic states, people needed shovels to dispose of stinkbugs. The unchecked invasion cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars across the county.
Even if you don’t farm, stinkbugs can be a pain. When the weather cools in the fall, adult stinkbugs search for a warm place to overwinter. To these critters, your baseboards, pipes, crawlspaces, basements, and attics are as good as Palm Beach. They will move into homes by the hundreds and take up residence under furniture, in bookcases, and behind walls, chimneys, and pipes.
The best way to keep stink bugs out of your house is to prevent entry. Use a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk to seal cracks around windows, doors, siding, pipes, and underneath the wood fascia. Fix or replace damaged window and door screens.
If you find yourself in the middle of a stink-apocalypse, pluck the slow-moving insects from your walls and dump them into a pail of soapy water. Then, they will die without causing a stink. If you have a major invasion you can use a vacuum cleaner but the appliance may take on the nasty stink of the bugs. Ain’t that a stinker?