For the last seven autumns, I’ve had an unwelcome guest show up in my house. He comes uninvited, overstays his welcome, and returns even after I kick him out.
And he brings all his friends.
No, I’m not talking about an unemployed friend, college dropout sibling, or boomerang child.
I’m talking about stink bugs.
Formal name Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, thank you very much.
As soon as the weather chills, these guys are scaling my windows screens like it’s Mount Everest, looking for any crack they can find.
And they find cracks. I don’t know where, I don’t know how, but at any moment throughout the day there are at least two stink buys in my house, and approximately one thousand trying to gain entry.
For the dwindling number of you who have never encountered the stink bug, he is an agricultural pest who is especially damaging to orchards. Native to China and Japan, stink bugs were accidentally brought over to the United States and Europe.
According to Wikipedia, the first documented specimen in the United States was found in 1998 in Allentown, Pennyslvania.
Allentown, by the way, is a scant four hour drive from my front door. Nothing for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug on a nice autumn day.
So here’s the bad news about these guys: they destroy orchard fruits, and if they get in your house, you really, really, really don’t want to squish them. Why? Well, as their name implies, they stink if squish them. It’s a smell most similar to urine, and it’s extremely difficult to wash off. Even if you squish them through a Kleenex, the smell lingers on your hands.
Some people flush them down the toilet, but when an invasion hits, your water bill would be through the roof. Others vacuum them up, but you’d better have a separate vacuum reserved just for this purpose, as it too will become infested with a smell you can’t get rid of.
But here’s the good news. While they might be holy terrors to apple and peach farmers, as household pests go, they’re not particularly harrowing. They can fly, but rarely do, at least in my house. They don’t bite. They don’t run away when you try to catch them.
Mostly they just crawl up my walls. They’re ugly, but not scary. And I’m tired of spending my day dragging a chair around the house to stand on and pluck them off the ceiling.
So rather than waging war on the stink bugs, I’ve decided to make friends.
As long as they stay out of my bedroom and off the television screen, they can stay during the day. I round them up each evening in a plastic jar, then take them out on the deck and dump them out.
If they can find their way back in, they can stay for another day.
And I can finally get some work done.