Monday, February 18, 2013

How To Control Stink Bugs

 It's almost that time of year.  The return of the stink bug.  I am hoping I am wrong and that all of ours have died off. But just in case, I am sharing what I have learned.  They are ugly and they stink. There you go, that's all you need to know.  I wish!  These hideous creatures came into Allentown, Pa. in shipping containers from China.  They have no natural predators and they multiply faster than rabbits.  In the Fall when the temps begin to drop, they seek out their winter hiding places.  They look for any crack or crevice they can find.  They hibernate through the winter and as soon as the first warm Spring temps arrive, these neanderthals start to emerge to do their damage.  And damage they do!  I have not planted a garden in 2 years because of the devastation they caused.  This year I am going for it again and hoping the stink bugs have moved on.

 This past Fall I noticed there were significantly fewer of them. Plus, we had very cold temps which might have killed a lot of them off. I hope! For those of you who are living with the horrible stink bug invasion, I have found a few things that help.  The first one is from Christer who sure knows how to kill a bug.  He told me to mix liquid dish detergent with a bit of alcohol and water and spray them.  When he told me this, I had been using industrial chemical poison which made the bugs laugh at me and flip me the bird.  I sort of doubted that Christer's method would work but I was desperate and ready to try anything.  It was a miracle!  You mix the solution in  a spray bottle and spritz them and bam, they drop dead.  Apparently these little beasties breathe through their shells.  When you spray them, the liquid detergent coats the shell and suffocates them.  The alcohol makes the detergent spread easier. This is the tricky part.  You don't want to squish them or step on them because they release a liquid that attracts more stink bugs. The Blog Tech thinks they smell like crayons.  He is right. They smell like really stinky crayons. And they leave drops of brown liquid to attract more of their buddies.

When I was living through the height of our invasion, I was obsessed!  Bugs in my house?  How awful!  I live in a  very old house with very old windows.  They were coming in through the spaces in my windows.  They tend to swoop in late in the afternoon to find a place to spend the night before the temps begin to drop.  I would wait on my front porch for them and squirt them as they landed before they could get to the cracks.  This helped significantly but not totally.  Something that really helped was buying Xcluder.  It is a metal mesh fabric that you can cut into strips and place between you window and the ledge.  It prevents them from crawling in.  I also used painters tape to seal around the windows. I have read endless articles about stink bugs. It seems that in northern climes, we just have to suffer through a time period until these bugs realize they have to move south to survive.  Eventually they will end up somewhere warm that provided lots of food.  They have devastated apple production in our area for years now.  So, to end a very long post about very yucky creatures, if you have trouble with stink bugs this year,  try some of my tips.  And if you live in the south...get ready!