Stink Bugs Take Up Residence in the Bay Area
By Penelope Folsom
Bugs! Admit it. Like many others in the mid-Atlantic states, you may have noticed stink bugs. And they’re everywhere. Where did these little stinkers come from and why are they in your home? Apparently they arrived here in the 1990s in container ships originating in Asia — first showing up in Allentown, Pa. – a rather an unusual entry point for container ships.
This hard–shelled, three-fourths- inch brown marmorated stink bug doesn’t bite, or sting or eat your clothes. But he is the bane of an orchard farmer’s existence and can do a huge amount of destruction to a ripening crop. The only natural predator is the wild turkey — that would be useful information for the home owner in downtown Annapolis. There’s also the Trissolcus wasp, a natural predator, which is not native to the U.S. and which would have to be imported from Asia. Have we learned nothing about importing live things from Asia? Remember the Japanese Beatle? It’s an import named for his homeland and now a recurring pest to both the farmer and home owner alike.
You really don’t care where they came from or who their friends are, you do want to know how to get rid of them. The bad news, as mentioned earlier, is that there are only two possible predators, neither of which you want to find in your kitchen. Exterminators seem to be stumped too. Unless you fumigate the entire house killing every living thing, there isn’t much that can be done. And highly toxic sprays are Band-Aid cures at best. They are not reliably effective and will need frequent re applications.
www.stinkbugs411.com suggests caulking all cracks and possible entry points into your home. They also mention that they like heat and light. Well so do I, so eliminating those is not an option. A plan is afoot for a federal emergency exemption to allow the use of a toxic chemical Dinotefuran which is currently forbidden by the EPA. That gives one pause: If it was formerly banned because of the toxicity, why would it be OK to use now? Apparently DDT could also be effective, but we all know that story from when it was banned 40 years ago.
After polling all of our buggy friends, here’s the only control we’ve come up with. Keeping in mind that they “stink” if squished or are sent down the garbage disposal or vacuumed up, there are few options. We’ve been told to keep a cup of water on the counter with a quarter inch of liquid dish soap floating on the top. Gently pick them off the windows, doors and pick them up as they fall out of stored clothing and books, and drop them into the cup. When the cup overflows, dump it judiciously around the deer’s favorite plants such as hostas or day lilies. Apparently even they turn their noses up at them. Currently there is no better solution to curing this onslaught of pestilence. If you’d still like to read more, log onto ag.udel.edu/extension/PDC/documents/BMSB-UMD.pdf