Sick of stinkbugs?

| 01 Nov 2013 | 02:10

By now you’ve met the brown marmorated stink bug. It has crept its way into our homes and our consciousness, and now it’s as common a household invader as the spider, fly, ant and ladybug. But you’re probably going to get to know it even better. These stink bugs, recent immigrants from Asia, are much more eager houseguests than our own native stink bugs.

Like its fellow Asian immigrants – the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle, for instance – brown marmorated stink bugs have few natural predators here, and they have been reproducing fast. Adults survive the fall and winter by coming inside, where they’ll go into a state of hibernation, although sometimes warm weather makes them wake up and fly around.

There are plenty of fear mongering websites warning against the dangers of stink bugs, which allegedly can bite if you sit on them, or squirt a jet of caustic liquid that hurts when it gets in your eye. Dirt has never known them to be anything but harmless to people, although they release an unpleasant odor when scared or squashed. (Wouldn’t you?)

The most worrisome threat is that they’ll ravage crops. “It’s terrible, they’re all over here,” said Joan D’Attolico, a retired farmer who lives on D’Attolico Farm, an organic farm in Pine Island. But she hasn’t noticed stink bugs causing any more crop damage than usual. “It’s the old bugs” that are doing the damage, she said.

How to get rid of them without releasing that acrid stink? Readers’ suggestions include flushing them down the toilet, putting them between two pieces of masking tape and throwing them in the garbage, and winning the award for creativity: putting up a bat house. Indeed, brown bats eat stink bugs, confirmed Pat Golben, a naturalist at Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall, NY.

“A bat house is always a good idea, because bats need safe places to live. Now the thing with bat houses are that you really need to have the right kind of bat house and the right placement, it’s not just a simple throw it up on a pole somewhere. You really need to follow the guidelines to get any bats.”

Not everyone wants stink bugs gone, though. “I think they are cute – they make me smile,” wrote Diane Krautter of Newburgh.

Becca Tucker