A while back a friend from Maine told me that she did not know what a stink bug was. I was incredulous until I realized that a few years ago I didn’t know what one was either.
Think of the devil in insect form, I told her—a medieval gray shield buzzing around your home, alighting on white surfaces, hovering near windows. If threatened, they emit an unpleasant, lingering odor. Hence the name “stink bug.” To add to the insult, they leave an unpleasant brown residue on lampshades and window sills and rugs.
Woe to those who suck one of these pests into a vacuum cleaner. They may be tempted to burn the machine and kick it to the curb. At least get rid of the vacuum bag. Stink bugs will remind you where they’ve been, swirling their little stinky selves inside a hot vacuum cleaner bag with dust and hair and what-have you isn’t their idea of a good time. They feel threatened. You know the rest.
Stink bugs should have been one of the seven plagues, up there with hordes of grasshoppers and locusts. They eat vegetables and fruit. Ask local farmers and gardeners. They’ll tell you.
Stink bugs are the ugly stepsisters at the beauty pageant, the flat latex version of the shiny Japanese beetles that destroy roses. I haven’t seen stink bugs on my roses, but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Stink bugs, I told my Mainer friend, invade each fall. They invade like squatters and take root. White is their color—window sills, white curtains, lamp shades, baseboards. They hitch rides in suitcases and in cars. On one particular occasion, they appeared crawling across the Thanksgiving table, which proves how long the fall stink bug season can last.
Stink bugs annoy me even more because they remind me of the good old days that will never come again: PSB, pre stink bug. When you could greet the fall, sit on your porch without being bombarded with these squatters that march in formation across the screen, slip through the cracks, burrow into boxes, corners, drawers, closets. They think your house is theirs.
I understand there are stink bug deterrents on the market, though I haven’t heard of any that are cheap or effective. One couple I know catches stink bugs in a Death Jar. Filled with Dawn detergent, the bugs are scooped into the liquid that helps neutralize the smell, one bug at a time.
My husband says to not let these pests bother me. There’s no getting rid of them, they’re here to stay, he says. And he’s right.
Count your blessings, I remind my Maine friend. If I were you, I’d set up a roadblock on I-95 North. Inspect luggage, vehicles, boats, everything coming into the beautiful Pine Tree State. Give these bugs the heave ho. Do it now, while there’s still time, while you still have your sanity …and clean lampshades.