Joe stared at the small brown shield-shaped bug safely contained in his bug house.
He’d found it in the kitchen, hiding in the cactus pot. After he had done some research on his Kindle, he discovered that it was the stink bug. It was just shy of an inch long and about as wide. It was kind of a pretty brown with small gray markings and spotty whitish legs.
Joe knew why he had found it in the house. They weren’t that fond of cold evenings, so in the fall they found ways to enter the house to hang out until winter was over. They try to sleep through the winter, but sometimes the warmth of the house gets them to wake up and clumsily fly around light fixtures.
Joe wasn’t sure why they were called stink bugs. They smelled kind of like cilantro. He figured this out before reading it because when he sucked it up in the bug gun, the scent leaked out. Apparently birds and other predators didn’t like that smell though.
They weren’t born in the US…they were originally from Asia but they had most likely stowed away in packing crates…the first ones were found in Pennsylvania in ’98. They were quick to invade further West, but most of them found the Eastern half of the country pretty comfy.
The big kids started to live longer and lay more and more generations of eggs in more and more places. This caused big problems in orchards, fields and even gardens.
Their campaign of destruction started on peaches, apples, green beans, cherries, raspberries and pears. As the season went on, they found tomatoes, soy, sweet corn and lima beans tasty as well. You could tell when it attacked by the appearance of tiny holes in the leaves and dimples in the fruits.
Joe didn’t see so much of a problem with losing lima beans. Yuck. But…fruit trees, tomatoes and green beans were among Joe’s favorite crops…so that was going to be a problem.
These pretty little cilantro smelling stink bugs would have to go.
But, as luck would have it, there were ways to control these pests. Birds and wasps. And just what type of bird is known to feast on these bugs? The chickadee.
Joe was very excited about this. While he felt that they didn’t necessarily need more stinging bugs what with all the bees and wasps already helping out, he already had a plan in the works to attract chickadees to the property using a combination of roosting posts, sunflower seeds and peanut butter.
“Hey Mom!” he shouted, full of excitement. “Not only do the chickadees eat aphids, they eat these cilantro bugs too!”
Time to stock up on peanut butter!