Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Stink Bug Remedy
We have them here in western Pennsylvania.
The brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) are probably a recent guests - first found in Penssylvania in Allentown around 1998. The bug is a true bug and part of the insect family Pentatomidae. Its Latin name is Halyomorpha halys. The rumor is that they arrived in containers from Asia.
These bugs are true agricultural pests in their homeland of China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. However, they are not dangerous to humans and do not damage structures or reproduce inside. There are numerous species of these bugs, many common to Africa, India as well as Asia.
Here I have seen them on fruit trees and, according to this, they will attack other crops as well. Regional fruits and vegetables subject to Halyomorpha halys attack include apples, mulberries, blackberry, sweet corn, field corn, soybeans, tomatoes, lima beans, green peppers and peaches. Damage to fruits looks like this. It's called "cat facing" and renders the fruit unfit for sale as "fresh".
Here in Pennsylvania their life cycle is probably one generation per year (perhaps more if its warm, maybe to two or three max). In Asia where its warm they probably have four to six generations per year.
To prevent a "stink bug" problem its best to make sure they can't get inside. Right.
So now that they are in your house what do you do?
Basically there aren't many options. You can spray for them but that might leave you with a killing fields of stink bugs which will attract yet more bugs to eat the carcasses.
So while I've been busy fixing up my new powder room, working and writing blog posts my better half, unnoticed, has be cleverly developing a "stink bug" final solution for our house. We had quite a few over the summer and now, even when the temperature pops up to 25 F or better then emerge to cling to the windows, fly around, and generally cause problems.
So today I noticed that one of the larger spider plants had been moved over to the kitchen table. Near by is a small soup can. I don't pay much attention until she calls me over.
"Look at this" she says proudly thrusting the can under my nose.
"What's that?" I say.
Sure enough there are dozens of dead stink bugs in the can floating belly up. I think back. Yup, she was over there fiddling with that plant and can for the last couple of days.
"They love my spider plant," she says.
Sure enough its covered with them. Lurking about under the leaves. So I watch. Evey once and a while she goes over and picks off any new arrivals off the plant and drops them in the soup can.
(Which is filled with the water.)
Now that I think about it there are far fewer around (I do realize its winter but until the spider plant was pulled out onto the dining room table as a trap there were still quite a few flying around when it warmed up even a few degrees).
So why is this working?
The spider plant, or Chlorophytum comosum, is a native of South Africa, according to Wikipedia. We've had them in our home on and off for decades. So a little research turns up this link: Stink bugs are a South African delicacy collected by women from plants at dawn, washed, boiled and eaten. No doubt our little friends feel right at home in the spider plants.
In any case it seems the stink bug and the spider plant are old friends.
Now that its dinner time I guess I'd better check to see of the soup can is empty...
P.S. - She claims that Dawn is mixed into the water as well to help the bugs on to their next lives.
Posted by John Gault at 4:15 PM