Our upright vacuum, which previously spent its non-working hours stowed in a closet, now sits by the patio door, plugged in and ready for use. Hose casually draped over the handle, canister reeking with the musty aroma of Stink Bugs.
One by one, I gently pluck them off my Ghost Chilies and introduce them to the business end of the vacuum hose, sending them to the vortex with a satisfying ‘thwup’ sound. Another invader of my prized crop of Bhut Jolokias eliminated. I estimate I’ve sent more than a hundred to their swirling end so far. Good times.
We first began to notice the Stink Bugs last year at my mother-in-law’s house in Potomac Md. There just seemed to be a lot around. Not like a plague or anything, just a “Hmm…Why so many Stink Bugs?” We eventually attributed it to the fact that her house has yellowish siding and interior paint. I had read that Stink Bugs are attracted to the color yellow. Of course, I originally told her it was she that was attracting them.
Now, compare last year to this year. There has not just been a slightly noticeable increase; there has been a huge increase in the amount of Stink Bugs! Not just at her house, everywhere. And I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon. We’re probably stuck with them for good.
Accidentally introduced to eastern Pennsylvania from Asia approximately ten years ago, Stink Bugs have been thriving and spreading. At the pace they appear to be multiplying now, you have to wonder if every fall from now on is going to become similar to a 17 year Cicada invasion, only quieter, and smellier.
From what I’ve read, there doesn’t really seem to be any best way to deal with them other than seal up your house as best you can and suck them up with a vacuum, preferably a shop-vac with soapy water in the bottom. For some reason, other Stink Bugs are attracted to the smell they emit when disturbed, or squished. Which doesn’t really make sense when you think about it. It’s not like they have the ability to help.
The damage they do to fruits and vegetables seems to be mainly cosmetic. Their dining on plant’s sap leaves scoring marks, which makes the fruit or vegetable visually unappealing to market. I haven’t actually seen one chomping my peppers, but have witnessed them sticking their proboscis into the stem, just above the fruit. I guess that’s what causes the scoring, and it’s more than reason enough for me to kill them.
The question is; are their numbers up because of the hot dry weather we’ve been having, as some have suggested? Or does it just happen that conditions in the Mid-Atlantic area are perfect for prolific breeding, and the invasion is just beginning?
Only time will tell.