Column: What to do about stink bugs


I knew fall was here when I spotted the stink bug on the lampshade. That’s the same place they showed up last spring when the snowstorms finally ended.

These smelly little pests are a recent addition to a long list of household annoyances. Somehow, they arrived in Allentown, Pa., from Asia in 1996. Since then they have spread throughout the south and Midwest. I’m not sure how they’ve gotten from place to place since I’ve never seen them flying outside, and they seem content to just sit once they get inside.

Apparently, they are devastating in farm fields and orchards. In our house they do little but sit around. And, oh yeah, stink like I can’t describe if I happen to crush one. I say I can’t describe the stench, but let me try. Stink bug odor is a combination of a backed-up sewer system, burning tires and rotten eggs. Only worse.

Stink bugs don’t colonize or cluster in hives. They are loners, understandable considering their body odor.

Apparently, there are a lot of ways to get rid of them. Several websites are devoted to the subject.  One in particular lists so many methods it could have been preparing stink bug exterminators for an Olympic event.

The first three seemed reasonable. 1. Drop them in a jar of soapy water. It suffocates them. 2. Spray them with soapy water. This is slower, but still suffocates them. 3. Use a traditional insecticide.

I used the jar of soapy water method to get rid of Japanese beetles years ago.  But since I seldom see more than one stink bug at a time, I usually just pick it up with my fingers and flush it down the toilet. Last spring when it was still below freezing, I tossed them outside with a firm warning to stay out.

Another method for getting rid of them calls for crushing cigarette butts into water and spraying the bugs with the mixture. The nicotine kills them. I’m guessing whoever recommended this never got a whiff of a moldering ashtray, an aroma on the stink scale just slightly below the smell of a stink bug.

One method sounds like fun if you happen to be into torture. Paralyze them with hairspray. After spraying them and watching them become immobile, the writer suggests putting them into soapy water, or spraying them with soapy water or nicotine. I think “The Addams Family” TV show did this one Halloween.

These all sound great, but I think I’ll stick to the pick-and-flush method.

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