Friday, February 18, 2011

Massive Stink Bug Invasion Predicted

By BRUCE LESHAN • Gannett• February 18, 2011

KNOXVILLE, MD. — As the weather warms, scientists warn that billions of stink bugs -- far worse than last year -- will be awakening and reproducing by the end of the month.
Stink bugs invaded our country
from Asia in the 1990s.

In his 90-year-old farmhouse south of Frederick, Md., Doug Inkley is already under siege. He's a biologist for the National Wildlife Federation and he loves bugs. He has a big beetle sculpture on his front porch.

But he absolutely hates stink bugs. They land on his face at night while he's sleeping. They die in enormous quantities just inside his window screens. They've spent the winter in his attic.

"Oow, yeah. I just found dozens fly out at me," he says, showing masses of them under his insulation. "There's another 50 right there." This past weekend, he sucked up 8,000 of them with the vacuum cleaner he keeps close at hand.

As the temperatures rise, the stink bugs crawl toward the nearby farm fields and orchards to devoir millions, maybe billions of dollars in fruit and vegetables. They lay their eggs on the foliage of fruit trees and other crops.

"I keep meticulous records," Inkley says. "I'm a scientist. But I didn't want my house to become an experiment in invasive species. "I now have a total that I've collected just since Jan. 1 of 12,000 of them," he says. "I've got to kill 'em."

Brown marmorated stink bug -- different from green stink bugs kept in check by natural predators here -- invaded from southeast Asia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They were first collected in 1998 in Allentown, Pa., but the agency thinks they probably arrived here a few years earlier in shipping crates, hitchhikers in global commerce.

They've now spread throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northwest and are making their way into the Midwest and South -- about two dozen states, the Pennsylvania State University researchers say.

They have no natural predators, and every year their population has climbed exponentially. Michael Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland who's been studying the bugs, predicts this year will be the worst so far.

The bugs don't bite, sting, or carry human diseases as far as we know. But they do stink -- some say like a skunk -- if you smash them.

How to deal with stink bugs

You may be tempted to crush them, but you'll be rewarded with an odor you won't like. Instead:

- Vacuum them. This also will help kill stink bug eggs. But dispose of the vacuum bag, maybe dousing it with some insecticide as you set it in the trash can.

- Attract them. Use a wide-mouth can. Fill with an inch of water, sweet-scented dish soap, and a little cooking oil on top. Make sure that pets cannot lick this trap. The sweet smell lures the bugs; the oil smothers their discharge; the soapy water smothers them as they sink.

- Exterminate them with commercially available insecticides. But apply the chemicals outside. If you do so when they are in your walls, you could attract carpet beetles that feed on their carcasses and potentially your woolens.

- Repel them. They don't like the smell of garlic - if you can handle it.

- Block them. Caulk small openings and cracks in your house or elsewhere to keep them out of structures. Repair damaged screens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kill A Stink Bug Day-

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