For the second time in my life I’m about to go to war. The first war that I fought was a war against water bugs. Now I’m at war with stink bugs and I am not so sure that I am going to win this time because there is no pesticide, or natural predator that can get rid of them.
Entomologists are working to come up with solutions, like a form of stink bug birth control or by introducing natural predators like hornets that would consume the stink bugs. But, for now, it’s just me and those creepy, prehistoric looking bugs.
I don’t understand why God had to create some of the bugs we deal with in life. All I can say is that I think she made a big mistake. Stink bugs serve no useful purpose. But, then again, maybe they serve to allow people like me to release pent-up aggression.
When I was first married and living in a basement apartment in Brooklyn, we had waterbugs, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. I would spray them and my husband would chase them down and kill them, but they kept coming back until I gave in, left the apartment for a day and bombed the buggers.
We eventually got rid of them, but the upstairs neighbor complained that they had migrated up to his apartment. He said they were so big that he was saddling them up and riding them around. I didn’t care. Better him than me.
Humankind has always had to deal with bugs. The brown marmorated (having a marbled or streaked appearance) stink bug has been living in Asia, and is a new species for this area.
Not only are stink bugs a disgusting nuisance, they are a worrisome agricultural menace because they suck the juice out of fruits, vegetables and house plants. Oh, and they congregate on window sills in alarming numbers. Researchers say that stink bugs are the most menacing agricultural pests in 40 years.
One hundred years ago, farmers had to deal with other kinds of insects killing their crops. On June 27, 1911 an article in the Red Bank Register related that "there was a promise of an abundant cherry crop throughout Middletown Township, but the fruit has been attacked by birds and bugs and much of it has been destroyed."
Earlier that month, another agricultural pest invaded Monmouth County. On June 7, 1911, it was reported that the 17- year locusts had made their appearance in the area. "In several of the wooded sections millions of them are congregated," a Register story said. "They feed on the leaves and small branches of young trees and so assiduously do they ply their jaws that the noise can be heard a considerable distance.
"The sound can only be likened to the noise made by steam escaping from a number of boilers. The warm sunbeams seem to be necessary for the locusts to work as when the sun sets they furl their wings and remain quiet until the break of day. The locusts do not attack fruit trees or other farm vegetation and the damage which they do to the trees is only slight."
The article goes on to explain that in some countries the arrival of the 17-year locust is welcomed because they are eaten and relished as a delicacy. "The natives in these countries catch the locusts by building large fires and when the smoke stifles the insects they are gathered up," the story said. "They are then roasted and generally eaten with honey, which helps digest them. They are sometimes dried in the sun and ground into a kind of meal, There is a general belief among the older residents that when the locusts' wings are marked with what has the appearance of being a letter W, war will visit the country in which they appear before they make their next visit. If peace is to rule the wing will be marked with the letter P."
Unlike locusts, I haven’t come across any information about eating stink bugs. And they don’t make a lot of noise. Although, when they land on something, it is as though they just dropped out of the sky. But the odor they emit is enough to awaken the gag reflex.
On a more playful note, although I don’t find these pests cute, I came across something called "Stinkbug Bugaloo" which is a variety show built on folktales, songs about bugs and an audience-participation, original "Stinkbug Bugaloo" dance. I won’t be doing that dance unless I can go a whole year without seeing one.
Right now, the bugs are feeding on the greenery outside, but in September when the leaves start to die and the nights become cooler, they will be creeping inside to skeeve me out.
I know, because they came into my bedroom last fall and stayed around for months. I believe that they got in through the window air conditioner because when we took it out, there were about a dozen dead bugs on the window sill.
I haven’t put my air condition in the window yet. My daughter suggested that I wrap the air conditioner in netting. I’ll probably try that, among other things. Just in case, I plan to move my pillows from the top of the bed to the bottom so that I am sleeping farther away from the window. I found a stink bug on my pillow last fall.
One of my Facebook friends posted a video of a man who has invented a homemade stink bug trap. It looks simple enough so I’m going to go out and get the materials that I need. If it works out well, I may make them for gifts for family and friends. I will need a 64 oz clear plastic soda bottle, an LED light, black electrical tape, masking tape and a razor blade. He says that it will cost around $7 to make the trap.
First you cut off the top of the soda bottle at the top line of the label with the razor, then score the label and pull it off. The top, inverted, becomes the funnel that the bugs drop through. Draw the black tape around the bottom of the bottle so that the bugs can only get to the light by climbing inside. Put the light inside the bottom of the bottle, then put the inverted top in place. Lastly, put four strips of masking tape down the sides so that the bugs have a ladder to climb up.
He says it works like a charm and he has caught hundreds of bugs by placing it in a dark room, especially the attic, and leaving it over night.
But he also devised a smaller, simpler trap that can be used to get one bug at a time. I made it on Wednesday and haven’t had the pleasure of using it yet. Following the directions, I took a smaller bottle, 16 oz, cut off the top with an X-ACTO knife and inverted it.
I didn’t having masking tape, so I put electrical tape around the top to keep it in place. The idea is that whenever you see a bug, you can trap it in the top and push it into the opening. The inventor says that once inside they can’t get out, but just in case I’ve saved the cap to put over the opening once the bug is inside. You can flush the bugs down the toilet or wrap the bottle in plastic and discard.
I’ve never seen a W on the back of a stink bug, but war is inevitable. I’m armed with my homemade stink bug trap and I’m wrapping my air conditioner in mesh. I also plan to take it out of my window in early September before the bugs decide to become unwelcome guests in my bedroom.
Those terrorists are not going to get the best of me even if I have to bomb my bedroom and bugaloo on out of here.