Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Creatures Were Stirring, Except...

‘Twas a week before Christmas,
When all through the house
No creatures were stirring,
Except brown marmorated stink bugs.

‘Tis true. I was sitting at my computer trying to figure out how “Subscribe to Blog” works when an insect caromed off the wall and landed on the shade of my desk lamp.

With temperatures running 10 degrees below normal and the outside temperature registering 26.4° F. at that hour, any respectable insect should be tucked away in some protected place waiting for warm spring breezes.

The visitor, of course, was a brown marmorated stink bug. Note the past tense. I went to the kitchen for my “Stink Bug Collector,” a peanut jar that I rescued from our recycling bin and now use to collect stink bugs inside our house.

The secrets of stink-bug collecting aren’t profound: (1) Fill bottle with an inch or two of water and then add a squirt of dishwashing detergent. (2) Remove lid and slide bottle from below the bug until it touches the bug. (3) Bug usually takes evasive action by dropping toward the floor, hopefully right into positioned bottle and sudsy bath. (4) If bug evades jar and lands on floor or desk, maneuver bottle cap until bug climbs onto it and then tap bug into suds. (5) Bye, bye, stink bug.

On my way from kitchen to study with the collector, I saw one stink bug hiking on the living-room floor tile. I positioned the jar top for that one to climb on and tipped him into the suds. In my study, I nudged the bug on the lampshade from below—and it dropped into the bottle and subs. And as I turned to leave my study I saw a third on the drapery, but soon it too was swimming in the suds.

Ah, three stink bugs collected in as many minutes—nearly a whole day’s worth. My guesstimate is that we’ve collecting, or flushing, 30 to 40 a week, say four or five a day.

I’m no longer seeing them in the frigid outdoors, so where are they coming?

My suspicion is that I’ve been catching the stink bugs that sought warmth when fall temperatures plummeted by squeezing into our attic around the soffit and fascia trim on the outside of our house. Now that the attic is getting cold, they’re making their way to our warm living quarters.

Every time I think about the bottle of floaters, I think, “What is the plague going to be like next summer? What devastation will stink bugs inflict on my tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries, beans, and who knows what else?

I’ll be monitoring all kinds of gardening and agricultural sources this winter to find the latest suggestions and recommendations. I don’t want “Gardening Year 2011” to be “Year 2 of the Stink Bug Plague.”

In the meantime, I’ll keep my “Stink Bug Collector” nearby.


  1. I suspect you're right about where they're coming from. I've been seeing more of late in my house too (and my husband found a whole colony on unwrapping the brown paper from a mirror that had been sitting in the corner of our bedroom). At least every one that gets caught will not be reproducing in the spring!

  2. Yes, the ones I caught won't be reproducing next spring. I'm wondering just how many scores, hundreds, thousands, millions are outside ready to start new generations when warm weather arrives. Hopefully nature--or entomologists--will give this gardener some relief.