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:

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