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Stink bugs

This is the time of year when insects attempt moving into the house for the winter. There's a wave of fruit flies toward the end of August, and after they're all gone, I can usually count on seeing occasional wasps and ladybugs inside through about mid-November. They're more an annoyance than a problem, because they're never in huge numbers — although one year we had ladybugs all over the place. This year, there's a new culprit: stink bugs.

I'd heard on the news a few months ago that we might see an invasion of stink bugs this year. I didn't think much of it at the time, but it turns out that newscast was correct — there are quite a few of them. I wouldn't exactly call it an invasion, but I'm seeing several every day, whereas in a normal year I might see five or so the entire summer.

There are a few different species of stink bugs. This particular branch of the family tree (the brown marmorated stink bug) apparently rode over on a shipment from China back in 1998 and got a foothold here in the States. Since then they've spread all over the eastern part of the country. They like to eat fruit and vegetable crops, reproduce, and stay warm. And for bugs, they have a pretty long lifespan and will be more than happy to spend the entire winter indoors and move outside again in the spring.

But other than the stink, they're fairly harmless — no pinchers, no stingers, and they don't bite. Just annoying. Fortunately, they're pretty easy to get rid of on a one-by-one basis if there aren't too many. That's been the case here so far. As for the stink, they only emit their funk when they're disturbed... one was trapped in the house all day today and did no damage at all.

Probably the best method for getting one is to just catch it in a tissue and flush it. Sometimes I'm a catch and release kind of guy when it comes to bugs and creepy crawlies. Spiders, in particular, often get escorted out the door. I kind of see us as being on the same team there since they'll arguably keep a few other bugs out of the house.

But stink bugs? Plenty of them to go around, and by the time you've gone to all the trouble of a live capture, your reward is a funky chemical smell on your hands and the gamble they'll make it back inside anyway. Not worth it, in my opinion... I say just flush them.

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