Kicking Up A Stink

A show of hands of all Palisades residents plagued by stinkbugs, please? Nearly everyone, right? As soon as temperatures fall, the sly Stinkbug sneaks into our less-thanairtight homes through the cracks in brickwork and gaps in window frames, having spent the summer sucking the sap out of our garden flowers and fruit.

Let me describe their unpleasant attributes as household lodgers. Quiet by day, at night they get loud as electric razors and dive-bomb their human host. If attacked, they release an unpleasant odor, hence the moniker. They hide during the colder months within walls and attics, and can be found on the stems of your beautiful cut flowers or on your cosseted houseplants, sucking away at the blooms. The stinkbug is the culprit behind many a failing houseplant. When they pierce the skin of the plant to extract its juice, they inject toxic saliva.

Their official name is the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (BMSB) from the insect family Pentatomidae. They hail from Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan where they are an agricultural pest. The first stinkbug sightings in the United States were reported in Pennsylvania, and the first specimen was collected in Allentown in 1998.

The stinkbug is now a serious agricultural pest in this country. Peaches, apples, peppers, soybeans, tomatoes, and grapes are among their favorite crops. One study by a USDA-funded team of entomologists reported that in 2010, the insects caused an estimated $37 million in damage to apple crops in the mid-Atlantic region alone. Their spread continues unchecked across the United States due to their lack of predators…. that is until they met this writer and her Bugzooka.

Normally a “live and let live” sort of person, I declared High Season after the Stinkbug Incident. One night a BMSB dive-bombed me and got tangled, with vociferous buzzing, in my hair. That was short on courtesy in itself, but when it sprayed its stink directly on my forehead, it crossed the line. Despite frenzied attempts to wash the stink off, it endured as my own personal miasma for two days. I became militantly anti-stinkbug. With Elmer Fudd-like determination, I did my research into pheromone traps, but they were not going to be enough to assuage my wrath. Then I discovered the Bugzooka on Amazon - a vacuum based pumpaction stinkbug catching machine of satisfying proportions and performance. I lock and load, and catch the nasties in remarkable proportions. After two years of operating a zero tolerance policy I can report a dramatic reduction in bug sightings in my home. Last winter I caught ten to fifteen a night; now I bag one or two a week. It works, and it’s fun if a little blood-thirsty, but you would be doing farmers, gardeners, and yourselves a huge favor.