Sunday, April 21, 2013

OBJECT #24: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

    Do you have these in your house?  They show up in my basement occasionally.  In some parts of Pennsylvania they have become a plague. I feel fortunate that I only get a few once in a while.
    Rumor has it that someone brought these from Asia (probably China or Korea) to North America to be a remedy for another pest.  The bug was first collected in September of 1998 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, but probably arrived several years earlier. Now these bugs are pretty much all over PA and there are reports that they have been spotted in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.  

    We Pennsylvanians are used to seeing these bugs pop up randomly in our houses.  They seem to appear from nowhere.  You’ll just suddenly notice there is a bug crawling across the wall or sitting on the back of a chair.  You can’t track down where they came from.   You’ll never find a nest of them.  You’ll never catch one sneaking in through a crack in the window.  It’s like they’ve mastered the science fiction concept of teleporting.

    Fortunately, the bugs are pretty much harmless.  They don’t bite or sting.  They do stink a bit if you squish them, though.  (Found that out from personal experience.)  The only real problem with them is that they love to eat fruit and veggies.  They are wasteful in their eating and go about taking tiny bits here and there, ruining the surfaces of as many fruits as they can.  Not such a big deal if you are just picking your own apples in your back yard.  But if you are a professional grower, even the slightest blemish can make a fruit unsaleable.  

    The university in my back yard, Penn State, is one of the centers for research on these pests.  They are still trying to figure out their life cycle and personal habits and other information needed for finding a way to control them.  They are trying to find a chemical-free way to control them but so far have not found any good solutions.  I think they’ve ruled out bringing in yet another predator.  (“She swallowed the cat to catch the bird, she swallowed the bird to catch the spider...”)
     If you want to know more about stink bugs, you can try this link:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

OBJECT #23: Handel and Bach statues


   These pieces of junk have been with me for about 40 years.  They’ve somehow avoided getting pitched during the course of about 10 moves.  They are just cheaply made little plastic statues of Handel and Bach.  Nothing really valuable or outstanding about them, but they’ve been sitting on a shelf in my house (or lurking at the bottom of a junk bin) for four decades.  I got them at a time in my childhood when I had a strong interest in classical music.  Between my participation in orchestra and my private oboe lessons I played a lot of Handel and Bach.  I remember Handel being my favorite composer during that time because I found his musical phrases predictable enough to be easy to play and easy to memorize, yet not too boring.   

    The amazing thing about these statues is their survival.  How in the world they have managed to not get lost or ruined or pitched in a household that sheltered four “active” (i.e. “hard on things”) kids, and four dogs (some of whom had bad chewing habits) is a mystery.  (To a dog, Handel and Bach much look remarkably like nylon bones.)

    It’s just funny how you can try so hard to preserve some objects and despite your best efforts they end up meeting an untimely/unseemly fate, yet other objects can be ignored, tossed into toy boxes, lost under couches, within reach of pets, etc., and yet manage to survive for decades.

    I confess, I almost pitched Handel and Bach this summer when I was cleaning out my basement.  Yes, they almost went into the trash can.  (Plan B was to donate them to Goodwill, but honestly, who would want them?  They’re really not worth anything.)  I think I actually did put them into the trash can, then felt so guilty seeing them there that I had to put them back on the shelf.  That’s how you end up with Junk in Your Basement!