Stinkin’ Bugs!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

We’re under attack. The infinite numbers of aliens are breeding rapidly, and they’re infiltrating our homes, our businesses and our very lives.  There is no simple solution, as they are resistant to chemical warfare  - and seem too plentiful for physical combat.

I speak, of course, of the dreaded Stink Bugs – the 2011 equivalent to biblical swarms of locusts.  They’re eating crops, damaging the economy – and in general, annoying the stink out of us!

The question, of course, is what to do about them.  Apparently the FIRST thing to do is make sure there are NO cracks or crevices which allow stinkbugs to enter your home.  Great, just great.  Let me take the next 10 years off and try to find all the leaky spots in my drafty home.   Ok, assuming the stinky creature WILL find a way into my abode – what can I do about them???

My first line of defense to any problem – ignoring it – does NOT work. Trust me.  And, although exterminators are advertising a chemical solution (including one poor slob dressed in a stink bug costume on a busy (sunny) Elkton intersection in 95 degree heat), it seems that their solutions are only temporary – and primarily based on keeping the bugs from entering your home for a few weeks. I’m a bit past that – they’re already inside! (at least I’ve never eaten a stink bug – I’m told that’s a bit beyond nasty!)

I admire entrepreneurs (and inventors) who take a problem and work to find a solution. When I saw a PA man advertising homemade stink bug traps I was intrigued.  I contacted Andrew Strube, of Strube Stink Bug Traps, who had a wonderful rags to riches story, and told me how his traps were helping home owners, farmers and more.  I was excited – finally! A solution!  Soon my very own stink-bug trap arrived in the mail.

To be honest, I was disappointed in the trap’s appearance.  An energy efficient lightbulb shined through holes drilled into PVC pipe.  The outside of the pipe was coated with a sticky substance to help attract the bugs (in addition to the light source) and hold them firmly.  The trap had to hung, but the short cord made it difficult to reach the outlet when the device was high enough to not attack innocent bystanders.  Still, if it worked, it was well worth the less than attractive appearance.

Unfortunately, it didn’t.  I think it might be helpful if you had more bugs than we do – but waiting for the bugs to hopefully land on the trap – and quite a few eventually did – seems counter intuitive.  I could easily catch or vacuum up the bugs in a few minutes, rather than waiting a week for the trap to lure them to their doom.

Vacuuming up the bugs is simple – and doesn’t make your hands stink. It does make your vacuum cleaner smell, however – and the smell lingers.  You’re supposed to throw out the vacuum cleaner bag each time – but that’s a LOT of bags – and waste.  If you have the dumpable type of vacuum you have another problem – because the critters are still alive – ready to re-infest your abode. 

I spent several evenings (because they tend to emerge at nightfall) stalking my prey and catching them with a paper towel, crushing them.  Yuck! They may be dead – but your entire house – and hand – reeks for way too long.  

Lately I’ve found another approach.  I fill a cup with soapy water and go hunting. Each bug is quickly snapped up and tossed into the soapy liquid. Presto – dead stink bugs.  My hands occasionally get skunked – but it’s washable. It’s also a quick way to go through the house, porch, etc. and remove the pesty bugs.  (a word of caution – they do occasionally dive bomb your head like a WWII kamikaze pilot – so be ready to duck!)

I don’t know when this latest pestilence will pass. But don’t drink out of any cups at my house without taking a real good look, first!

Cyndi, The Stink-Bug Slayer

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