Plague of Stink Bugs Descends upon New England


New England is being swarmed by a pestilence, a plague that seems to be torn from the Bible, though…more stinky and annoying than those Moses had God inflict upon Egypt. Stinkbugs have descended upon  New England, their ugly, brown flying shapes detracting from the brilliance of the fall foliage.

Oh, yeah — and, they STINK, too! If you squash them, or “bug” them, they will release a foul odor from glands their thoraxes.

The Marmorated Stink Bugs are alien invaders. They came here from Asia. The stink bugs have brownish-colored, shield-shaped bodies, and were discovered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1998.

What harm  do the stink bugs pose, other than from their — stink?

The stink bugs do a lot of damage for being creatures less than an inch long. They are agricultural threats, and their foods of choice are legume, vegetable, and fruit crops. They destroy acres of crops every year in 40 states, and are especially prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic states.

No fruits or vegetables are safe from the locust-like hunger of the stink bugs. Three years ago, in 2010, they resulted in a loss of $37 million for Mid-Atlantic apple growers due to the rotting of the apples they’d partially munched upon.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, stink bugs are their number one “invasive insect of interest.”

Besides their voracious appetites and stench, yet another reason why the stink bugs are reviled is that they like to make our houses their exclusive winter headquarters.

What, exactly, do  the stink bugs smell like?

Beware if you can’t stand the aroma of cilantro, as that’s what the stink of the stink bugs has been described like smelling. When these little home invaders decide to make your house their home, they can be difficult to get rid of, and the stench that they leave behind can last for several days.

One Pennsylvania resident described the stink bug invasion as “like being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.” She added that you can’t even step outside, without having them “jump on you.”

The stink bugs have no natural predators in the United States. This hs led to their rapid population growth. They came here, it’s believed, from Asian produce shipped to the U.S. in the 1990s.

On possible method to keep the pests under control that the USDA has considered is introducing Asian trissolous wasps to America. They are non-stinging, and they eat nothing but the eggs of stink bugs.  They die if they can’t find any stink bug eggs to consume. The wasps lay their eggs in clusters of stink  bug eggs, so that the wasp larvae can then eat the stink bug eggs from within the convenience of their own shells.

Of course, you can also take matters into your own hands — well, mouths — by eating them, yourselves. Stink bugs are rich in iron and protein, and they are eaten in Africa, Asia, and South America. All you have to do is first, remove their heads, then either sun-dry or roast them — they’re the perfect snack food for every occasion.  Try them out for your Super Bowl party!

Has your neighborhood. town, or state been invaded by the plague of stink bugs yet? If so, and/or if your house has ever been invaded by them, please leave a comment below about your experiences with them.


Written by: Douglas Cobb

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