Thursday, October 4, 2012
Nothing good comes from invasive stinkbugs!
I first became intimately familiar with these pests two falls ago, on a trip to Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania. These bugs were numerous, even outside in more or less natural habitats. But they were at their ugly worst back in the hotel room. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) are incredibly adept at forcing their way into buildings, and can do so in droves when the weather cools, as it had on my October trip to Hawk Mountain.
It was apropos that I learned the charms of these pests in Pennsylvania, as it was in the Keystone State where they were first found on U.S. soil, back in 1998. In the intervening 14 years, BMSB numbers have skyrocketed and probably everyone in PA is unwillingly acquainted with this six-legged brute. Like so many of our other problematic insect invaders, this one hails from Asia. And like other imported pests, it probably hitched its way here inside packing crates; another unintended consequence of foreign trade.
Orchardists have it far worse than irritated homeowners that suffer BMSB incursions. The bugs are in the order Hemiptera, and use sucking mouthparts to tap juices from plants and their fruit. A big infestation can lay waste to crops of vegetables and fruit, and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of natural enemies.
I had one or a few invade my home last year, but there are far more this year. It seems the BMSB is quickly swelling its ranks here in Ohio as it sweeps westward across the landscape. I suspect they're here to stay, at least for some time.
These bugs are survivors, there is little doubt of that. An individual can live for a year, and they overwinter as adults. Hence, their urge to invade your warm cozy house when the weather turns nippy. Preliminary and informal survivability tests conducted by your blogger indicate that these insects can take a beating and keep on ticking. I captured the animal in these photos by trapping it in the lid of a noxious can of motorcycle chain lube, then securing the cap back on the can, airtight. The air quality within that small sphere could not have been pleasant. Then, I stuck the can in the coldest back recesses of my refrigerator for maybe an hour. When I brought the bug out and dumped it on white paper for these shots, it was predictably dazed and lifeless. Within two minutes, it was twitching and moments later was back to 100% health.
We've got a plant-sucking Armageddon-surviving cockroachlike six-legged pest that spews foul secretions on our hands, so it seems.
Thank you, Asia.
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