Lots of things. Tics, bedbugs, Governor Christie . . . but it’s the stink bugs that are really “reeking” havoc.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug crossed into eastern Pennsylvania about ten years ago after the six-legged stowaway reportedly boarded a cargo ship from China and, like all other Asian imports, quickly found its way to Wal-Mart.
The bug had initially immigrated to Arizona, but because of its brown-colored wing tone, was found to be reasonably suspicious and deported to New Jersey. Thousands have since flocked to the Garden State and taken up residence in sanctuary cities like Jersey City.
Like my husband’s friends during football season, the stink bug tends to congregate in large numbers and come inside when it gets cold. It also rubs its body and makes loud noises to attract its mate.
Also like my husband’s friends, it possesses an automatic stink weapon that releases an extremely powerful, unpleasant and long lasting odor that emanates from a scent gland located on its underside. It is activated by any disturbance, distress, or bean dip at half-time.
The odor and the bugs themselves disrupt both the senses and the census, sometimes raising the numbers per household a thousand-fold.
While the shield-shaped stink bug is only about half as long as a match stick (which some people are tempted to use to set their house on fire when the bugs infest their homes), it is a big nuisance.
After the insects dine on your flowers and fruit, colonies of them take residence in your home by sneaking under siding, into soffits, and through small spaces, and then settle comfortably into your La-Z-Boy recliner for the winter.
Some entomologists (bug experts) think stink bugs should be controlled by a natural enemy, but because the insects are foreigners, their natural predators aren’t here. So entomologists are considering introducing into our homes natural predators from Asia such as the praying mantis, the Venus flytrap and the freshwater crocodile.
Sealing the cracks is said to be the only means of prevention, but there are numerous methods of treatment. Some homeowners use pesticides; some crush them with any blunt object they can find, and others suck them up with a Hoover or a simple yawn.
The Buddhists prefer the method of capture, release, and pray. They trap the stink bug, let it go in the woods, and pray that it doesn’t follow them back.
The Buddhists may have the right idea about treating all living things with respect. We might learn a thing or two by demonstrating tolerance and understanding. For instance, we might take the time to explore why the stink bug migrated here in the first place. Perhaps it found homeland China oppressive. Perhaps it feared the next earthquake. Perhaps it longed to trade its Chinese wings for some Hollywood footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
I’m not suggesting we sweep the stink bugs under the rug and fasten clothespins to our schnozes to address the problem. I’m saying, let’s keep in mind that not all insects stink. Many are beneficial and contribute to society. Perhaps by showing more understanding, tolerance, and respect, we can find a better way to coexist. After all, in your next life, you could come back as a stink bug.
Column/blog originally published on The Altnernative Press, October 10, 2010
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