Blogging Along the Brandywine—The little stinkers are back

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Once when I was taking
flying lessons, I was at 2,900 feet somewhere over Souderton in a Cessna 152,
my flight instructor pulled back the throttle and the propellers slowed down to
a virtual stop. “What are we going to do now?” he asked.

That was scary.

Another time some friends
and I were tubing down the Brandywine when a thunderstorm came out of nowhere.
We spent the next 20 minutes or so flat on our stomachs in a cow pasture
getting drenched as streaks of lightening sizzled down around us.

That was pretty scary too.

But something happened the
last week that really freaked me out.

I was driving home on
Pocopson Road, and just as I turned onto Route 52 at the former Simon Pearce, I
heard a tiny click on my dashboard. And there it was right in front of my face,
with its grayish brown shield-like back and tiny zombie eyes looking at me. The
creepy little bug actually stood on its hind legs and waved its front legs at
me in a threatening gesture.

Eeeuuuuwwwww! Gross!

It was the ubiquitous Pentatomidae Halymorpha Halys—the brown marmorated
stink bug.

I mean, here I was ready
to drive over the bridge at Lenape in rush hour traffic and this thing is
waving its arms at me. I could feel my head starting to spin.

I felt next to me in the
coffee cup compartments between the seats and found a wrapper from some hard
strawberry candy, and as I rounded the first corner on Route 52 I deftly picked
up the creature with the plastic wrapper, (Heaven forbid that I should squish
it, as it would emit its characteristic nasty odor) and tossed the parcel out
the window.

I made an unscientific
study on the disposal of stink bugs and found that my friends and family tend
to fall into two categories: The
nature lovers who pick them up in a tissue and release them outside, or
the Captain Barbosa devotees who pick them up in a piece of toilet paper and
flush them down the great gurgling whirlpool to rest forever in
Davey Jones' Locker.

So, just as I was throwing
Mr. Stink Bug out the window I passed a green sign: Littering Fine $300.00

I quickly checked my rear
view mirror for any official car with a row of lights on the top.

“Well you see officer, I
wasn't really littering. I was thwarting an attack.”

But all kidding aside,
they’re back and they’re everywhere.

After hibernating inside
for the winter, the little creatures are coming out of your houses where
they’ve been keeping warm.

Pentatomidae Halymorpha Halys was “accidentally introduced” (that’s the official
term) into the United States from Asia some time in the early 1990’s, and was
first identified in Allentown in 1998. Since them it has spread to 33 states.

According to the
Department of Entomology at Penn State, the B.M.S.B. has become “an important
agricultural pest”, producing losses in peach and apple orchards as well as to
sweet corn and soybeans.

However, there’s good news,
people. A tiny wasp from Asia known as a Trissolcus
Wasp, a natural enemy of the brown marmorated stink bug, is showing promise as
a possible biological control.

Hmmm…are we really sure we
want to do that?

About Sally Denk Hoey

Sally Denk Hoey, is a Gemini - one part music and one part history. She holds a masters degree cum laude from the School of Music at West Chester University. She taught 14 years in both public and private school. Her CD "Bard of the Brandywine" was critically received during her almost 30 years as a folk singer. She currently cantors masses at St Agnes Church in West Chester where she also performs with the select Motet Choir. A recognized historian, Sally serves as a judge-captain for the south-east Pennsylvania regionals of the National History Day Competition. She has served as president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates as well as the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford where she now curates the violin collection. Sally re-enacted with the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment for 19 years where she interpreted the role of a campfollower at encampments in Valley Forge, Williamsburg, Va., Monmouth, N.J. and Lexington and Concord, Mass. Sally is married to her college classmate, Thomas Hoey, otherwise known as "Mr. Sousa.”

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. anibas

    In our house, we scoop up the little buggers in a plastic bottle. My favorite is a Skinny Water bottle with a larger opening than a regular water bottle. Since stinkbugs are usually rather lethargic, they sometimes actually hop in the bottle. A lttle alcohol in the bottom brings about a hasty demise and cuts down on the stinky smell. My daughter uses a small abount of Listerine for a more minty aroma. Actually I don’t think stinkbugs smell all that bad, but then again, I like cilantro.

    When the bottle becomes too gross looking to leave out if company comes, we dispose of it in the trash. I know that’s probably not environmentally correct, but not as bad as wasting the water to send them to Davey Jones’ Locker.

  2. cwb

    Just a word to the wise…they DO bite! I have been bitten twice.

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