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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Stink Bugs Are Coming -- Back!

This is the fourth year that the Japanese Beetles have not yet shown up, and for that I am eternally grateful, though I keep wishing I knew the reasons why.   Having seen the fight that has always been necessary to wage against them, during all my now large number of adult years, I had thought that they were immortal and that nothing could be done to keep them from coming back every year.   But something did.

But then, last year, a new invasive insect species suddenly showed up in large numbers -- another import from Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug.   They differ from the Japanese Beetles in that they are a very plain, undistinctive brown, and their armor plates don't come in nearly the dazzling array of bright metallic colors worn by the Beetles.  The stink bugs also differ in that they don't restrict themselves to the outside, though last year they did do great damage to fruit crops, causing a loss of 37 million in apples alone.    They also like to invade homes and another other available buildings where they can find humans to aggravate with their loud and active buzzings and their "don't touch me or your nose will feel the pain" ethic   And in contrast to the two or three months of the Beetles at their worst, the stink bugs hang around for pretty much half the year, mainly in the cold months,  and they live up to their name, giving out a very distinct bad smell whenever they're squeezed, and sometimes when they';re not. 
       We didn't know they existed until they showed up in our house and my workshop last year, as they did everywhere else around here and often in much larger infestations than we had, so that we've heard tales of people returning home to find their doors covered with large splotches of the things, just waiting to get in.   And they definitely took away from the quality of life -- dropping down from above at the most unexpected times and then stupidly staring up and waiting for you to grab it and terminate it, after which there would always be others to replace them, many others, though thankfully not all at one time.

I've read that they entered the U.S. in a shipment of some kind to Allentown, Pennsylvania, another result of that worst year in my living memory, 2001, and they've been expanding their range ever since, and now they're well-established all over the Mid-Atlantic and reaching out for more.

We haven't seen any for four or five months, but now an article in the Washington Post assures us that the stink bugs have just been hibernating, in our homes and shops, and that, come late September, they'll be back again, and in much larger force than last year.

Before we moved here to rural Virginia about 35 years ago, people in D.C. had a good time warning us about the bears that would "eat us up."   But I hadn't been here long before I noticed that the field mice were doing us much more damage than any of the rarely seen though admittedly still present bears.   But the insects put both the bears and the mice to shame, and if it's not one, then it's many others.

Such is the natural world in which it is so much our pleasure to live. 

Update, 21 August.   Today my wife saw the first stinkbug of the season, one and one only, sitting on a freshly washed sheet that she had hung  out to dry.   I am disappointed, as the article that I mentioned gave the impression that we still had several weeks to go.   Oh, well.   Given the many vagaries of the insect world,  maybe we won't be seeing as much of them this year, also regardless of what the article says.  Hoping is all we can do when it comes to those little rascals.


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