Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The uglier side of living in a warm, humid area.

Bugs. They love the same weather I do. Mostly bugs don't bother me and I can co-exist with spiders and bees and such. But I have grown to loathe the brown marmorated stinkbug. Apparently they hitched a ride in shipping crates from China or Japan or Korea and landed in Allentown, PA back in 1998. The little fuckers have been migrating outward from there and have become a real problem here the last few years. Especially after a warm winter a couple of years ago allowed them to produce an extra couple of generations. Even setting aside the fact that they are a terrible agricultural pest, I'd hate them for their smell. It's like having many tiny skunks living in your house. And they fly wildly around, sometimes crashing into or landing on you. I've tried vacuuming them  up, but then they release their smell in the vacuum. Now whenever I put in a new bag, I burn some paper and vacuum up the ashes to provide a little charcoal-like absorbance. Flushing them wastes water and catching them in a plastic bag and tossing them in the trash creeps me out.
I have no mercy on the foul creatures. As soon as I see them, they're on borrowed time. After a dramatic increase with the warming weather, I got fed up. I was collecting so many that I never got to sit down for more than a few minutes at a time - one would buzz by or my son would call out, "Mom! There's another one on my leg!" One night there were about 50 of them. I had to do something. They seem to concentrate in the den, which is the warmest room in the house with windows on three sides, and outside door, and a chimney - all entry points. I got on-line and started doing some research and then headed to the store to see which of the non-toxic solutions I might try.
Here's what I'm trying: I've stuffed citrus-scented dryer sheets behind the wood stove fireplace insert, because I suspected they might be coming in through the chimney. And I combined two other remedies - I've made a mix of water, clear dish detergent, and wintergreen ispropyl alcohol and I spray it around all the windows, the chimney and door. And you know what? Three days later I only have to dispose of a few a day. Just two yesterday, in fact. Who knew stinkbugs could be repelled by things that have a strong but significantly more pleasant smell than they do?

38 comments:

  1. only a few a day. ha
    you have slowed them down at least
    we get these too
    but at least they are not the palmetto bugs of florida
    those were nasty

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    1. It's a huge improvement!

      People say "palmetto bug" to avoid the more accurate "freakishly huge cockroach."

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  2. I have only seen one in 2014, and sure enough, it was yesterday, right by the fireplace. Remember when I found one on the bristles of my toothbrush last year? I'm still disturbed by that image.

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    1. God, that really is disgusting. Did you throw away the toothbrush?

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  3. Awful. I totally sympathize.

    I am plagued with large earwigs once a year for about 3 weeks, they come down from the shallow attic and it is a huge infestation. Nothing disturbs me as much and I've tried everything.
    XO
    WWW

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    1. Earwigs are a nightmare bug for me because when I was a kid we believed that they would crawl into your ear and burrow into your brain.

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  4. "and landed in Allentown, PA back in 1998."

    Yes, and I can tell you (being someone who lives in PA) those stink bugs are EVERYWHERE. I don't get them indoors, but I see them outside a lot and you can smell them.

    "the non-toxic solutions I might try."

    That's excellent!

    Do you know what bug bothered me the most living in Florida (humid weather)? The Palmetto bugs - those flying water bugs. OMG...the scared me to death - HA! And we even get them here during the summer months.

    X



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    1. And as I was telling Brian, we all know palmetto bugs are just big, freaking roaches. shudder

      I must have a house with lots of openings because the stinkbugs sure do love to come inside.

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  5. That is interesting with the "fix" that you found. I like that type of a fix rather than chemicals in things like Raid, etc. Do they stick around all spring and summer?

    betty

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    1. I always prefer a non-toxic solution if I can find one. And yes, they are around all year now.

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  6. you are as ever brave and smart.

    my problem is chipmunks. they are adorable and they don't smell. but they make tunnels throughout the yard and they upheave the bricks on the walkways and patios and create uneven land mounds. i have researched every corner of possibility. the only solution i find is to kill them one way or another. there is an outside option that if you capture them and release them on the other side of a river, they will not return. otherwise, there is no humane solution.

    i cannot kill them. i let them be last year and my yard is a mess.

    still, i know those stinkbugs are worse. and cockroaches and earwigs--eeek.

    feel sorry for me too, please. xoxo

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    1. I do have sympathy. Like you, I'm both an animal lover and a gardener, so that's a real dilemma. I would have to opt for not killing them, too, though.

      Still, I'd rather have chipmunks than stinkbugs!

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  7. Wow, bugs...in a southern, warm, humid climate. Who'da thought?

    On another, more sympathetic vein, the earwigs don't really crawl into one's eustacian tube and thence to the brain, they go down, and attach to the brainstem, controlling the poor person.

    Heard there was a big infestation down there recently.......

    One more post about the horrors of living where it's warm, I'm calling the palm reader again.....late spring snow in the south strands thousands....

    yeah, it's snowing outside.

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    1. Well. You clearly know nothing about anatomy. Everyone knows earwigs eat into your brain and then you die horribly, after going crazy.

      As much as I hate stinkbugs, I will take the horrors of living in a warm climate over those of living in a cold. Namely, being cold. I hope your snows end soon!

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  8. Well I learned something. There cousins are active here as well--just give them a few weeks.

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    1. They've been found as far west as California and south to Florida and north to Maine. But apparently they are the worst in the mid-Atlantic states.

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  9. I guess it stinks to them. Good job.

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    1. It must. I like that I'm basically perfuming them away.

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  10. Hmm, I wonder if that stuff works on other bugs? We seem to get an infestation of crickets every year, and I don't like to use anything toxic for fear of the pets eating it, or eating bugs that have eaten it. I may have to try that.

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    1. I don't know. It's worth a try. Borax is another non-toxic option for bugs. You can sprinkle some along entryways.

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  11. You are doing both the environment and the new people a favour.
    I like that you stay away from toxic stuff. Mostly, that smells foul too, so you are doing yourself a favour by spreading pleasant scents.

    It’s all good.

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    1. Yes it is. I much prefer to stay away from dangerous chemicals.

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  12. Way to go, I'm glad they are going away. We have some outside but not as many as we saw when we first moved in here!

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  13. I'm not generally too squicked out by bugs, but that one on the clock would have me arming up with chemicals, too.

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  14. This will certainly help the sale of the house to repel them in an environmentally friendly way. And make the house smell good at the same time! We found that a solution containing Dawn dishwashing liquid kills/repels the hated box elder bugs here. I hope the stinkbugs don't make it up here. It is one of the only benefits of the subzero temperatures in the winter....many bugs can't survive.

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    1. I don't know how cold they can manage. I know they hibernate in the winter.

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  15. You may find this interesting: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2014/04/how-zebras-got-their-stripes.html

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  16. Eeeewww, thank goodness you've found something to repel them!

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  17. they are disgusting critters for sure.

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