Tuesday, October 09, 2012

So You Want to Know About Stinkbugs, Eh?


Yesterday I was driving down Mountain Road taking Betty to drop her off at Union Station on her way  back to school. It was one of the first quite cold days of the fall, and I had taken my winter coat out of the closet for the first time since last spring.

A few miles out, I felt something crawling on my neck. Yep. Stinkbug.

Disgusted, I threw it out the car window and kept driving. Then there was another, on my sleeve. And another. And another. I stopped the car to shake out the coat. In all, seven of the loathsome things had infested the coat.

Three years ago, we had the Nightmare October from Hell. That was when these things first arrived in serious numbers. I couldn't convince anybody how horrible it was; anything I said sounded like hyperbole. "Thousands of the horrible things!" sounds like I'm exaggerating wildly -- especially to my suburban acquaintances, who freak out and post on Facebook that they'd seen three of the them in their garage. "Ewww!" everybody responds. Oh, if they only knew!

Let me tell you about the Nightmare October of 2009. When we came in or out the front door, we had to scurry to get the door closed as thirty uninvited guests attempted to piggyback in with us. When they did get in -- and they did, by the hundreds -- their natural instinct is to insert themselves into crevices in the house -- sock drawers, rollup curtains, door frames. We learned to cook with a grease-mesh over any open pot -- and they still got into our food. We threw away an entire casserole when Freddie found one in his serving. (It was OK; we'd all pretty much lost our appetites anyway.)

Exterminators were no help. Nothing they had would kill the goddamned things. Also, because they are an invasive species from China, they have no natural predators here. The exterminator advised us to suck them up with the vacuum cleaner every day. We might as well have used an accordion.

This kind of thing will  do a number on your psyche. I was unemployed at the time, depressed and miserable. Sitting in our upstairs bathroom one day, one of the warmest rooms in the house and thus especially attractive to the monsters, I listened to the buzz-thump of several stinkbugs banging away at the window behind me (they are huge, and very, very stupid), and came damned close to just taking the pipe then and there.

Well, we lived through that. I got a job soon after and things brightened up. The bugs died back and we got on with our winter.

The next year, 2010, wasn't too bad. For some reason the bugs didn't swarm as badly as they had the year before, and it was at least tolerable.

The year after that, Southern States started to advertise a product that would finally kill the bugs. I bought a lifetime supply, sprayed, and miracle of miracles, the stuff worked as advertised. They died in the thousands. Life was good. (And if you dare to ding me about environmental damage, I'll just answer this: I. Don't. Give. A. Fuck. Take a look at the photos I'm about to present, and then get back to me about the Chesapeake Bay. If a few bees and spiders had to take one for the team, sorry about that.)

So this year, the little fuckers started their swarming again, nearly as badly as 2009, and a couple of weeks ago I sprayed again. Again, they died by the thousands. Yay, us.

So now I've got lots of dead stinkbugs to sweep up. Better problem than before, at any rate. This morning I swept the screened porch. (It needed it anyway.) I wound up with quite a pile of corpses on the floor. Please bear in mind, as you horripilate at this picture, that this is the interior of a screened porch, the entire purpose of which is to keep out insects. Usually, it does an excellent job. Mr. Stinkbug is very, very good at defeating conventional design.

(Sorry about the lousy quality of the pic; I shouldn't have trusted a phone camera.)

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman used the Mason-jar-of-soapy-water method of killing the bugs that had gotten in past the insecticide. Her fingers smelled horrible for days:

So yeah. Stinkbugs. Die, you miserable bastards, die!