March 6, 2018

"In the end, it took the couple almost all night to make their bedroom habitable, but since then they have never lived entirely free of stinkbugs."

"The day after the infestation, one flew out of Stone’s hair dryer. A few days later, she pulled a hoodie over her head, then frantically yanked it off again upon discovering multiple stinkbugs burrowed inside. Some time after that, she tacked up a horse she’d been training, jumped on, and immediately sprang back off: stinkbugs were pouring out of every crevice of the saddle. She has flicked them off the pages of books she was reading and pulled their corpses out of her jewelry box; they have crawled across the table during dinner and, drawn to the heat of the water, edged steadily closer to her in the bathtub. As she was telling me her story, one made its way across her cutting board, while another survived a swipe from her kitten."

From "When Twenty-Six Thousand Stinkbugs Invade Your Home/These uniquely versatile bugs are decimating crops and infiltrating houses all across the country. Will we ever be able to get rid of them?" by Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker's "Annals of Ecology."

I love the illustration, by the way, but we did have a conversation about how the image of the bug seems to be merged with an idea of what an African tribal mask looks like and whether that was politically incorrect. There's nothing about Africa in the article. The brown marmorated stink bug — the subject of the article — "is native to China, Japan, the Koreas, and Taiwan. It was accidentally introduced into the United States." Why would you make the invasive nonnative look African?

45 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's african because it looks like african art.

Fernandistein said...

Audio: Listen to this story.

Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Paul Zimmerman,
Poor TV watcher barely heard his partner scream
Then one day he was looking at his wall,
And up through the ground come a bubbling crude
(Bugs that is, brown marmorated gold, Carolina wildlife)

Well the first thing you know old
Paul's an entomologist
Kin folk said Paul move away from there
Said California is the place you oughta be
So they loaded up the truck
and they moved to Beverly

rhhardin said...

Pantry moths, introduced by a Kroger Oat Bran box, disappear after a few years of pantry moth traps. They get less than replacement demographics then.

rhhardin said...

Armstrong and Getty relate that movie producers keep track of women's menstrual cycles, because they they can be made to cry over anything at the right time.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Three letters: DDT.

mockturtle said...

At least they don't bite or spread disease.

The Cracker Emcee Classic said...

You’re imagining stuff, Althouse. It’s a primitivist illustration because the illustrator isn’t freakin’ Albrecht Durer.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

White guilt appears in places you would not expect to find it. Too much time in the academy magnifies this effect

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

If Global Warming eradicated stinkbugs would that be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.

It might depend if you own the home or are simply renting, maybe.

The Germans have a word for this.

Bob Boyd said...

Could be worse.
Could be hook worms.

Fernandistein said...

The bugs seem to be assimilating pretty well for illegal aliens; I bet none of them speak Chinese at home.

Fernandistein said...

I thought you said "panty moths", so now think about *that*.

traditionalguy said...

The BMSBs eat fruit, and that is a big problem in fruit growing regions such as Eastern Oregon. Bend ( Deschutes County) has already gotten their first reports.

Quaestor said...

[S]he is an actress, comedian, and horse trainer...

CV inflation — more pervasive than stink bugs.

MadisonMan said...

When Twenty-Six Thousand Stinkbugs

Did they actually spend time counting them?

I've seen about 15 or 20 over the winter in my house. I flush them.

Of course, I'm not stupid enough to leave the door open when it's cool outside. Why not just put up a "Marmorated Stink Bugs Welcome" sign?

I assume most of the ones in the house hitch a ride in on the dog.

Angle-Dyne, Angelic Buzzard said...

Why would you make the invasive nonnative look African?

Stuff in the universe often looks like other stuff in the universe.

If you keep devoting mental energy to trying to stamp out any perception of similarities that might strike somebody somewhere as "insensitive" (see, Crimestop, also, gorillas on playgrounds, etc.), you are putting yourself at risk of brain damage or emotional dysfunction, and could very well end up crazy or stupid or both.

brylun said...

My wife and I just got back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand. They have signs in New Zealand customs warning about stink bugs.

AllenS said...

With the first warm up of the season a couple of weeks ago, a stink bug was on the inside of a window in the house. Hope it liked snow, because I tossed it outside.

Richard Dolan said...

Nice to know that these bugs don't like NYC.

Paddy O said...

My parents had an old mountain home that was pretty drafty, so at one point we sealed in some of the more obvious gaps near the beams. It wasn't an A-Frame, though it was close enough. One side of their house is mostly window, including sliding doors, and high windows going up about 20 feet.

One night when I was staying over the next season or so (I forget when) I woke up, walked to the kitchen, and saw that window entirely covered with little brown moths. Thousands, it seemed, but more likely hundreds. Covering the whole window top to bottom. There was light outside, I guess, but they were stuck inside. Never happened before or since. I suspect we sealed in some moth eggs in the rafters.

Anyhow, I like Dyson vacuums with really long extension hoses.

Took a bit about a week for them to stop appearing. Kept vacuuming them up each evening until they did.

Paddy O said...

There were a lot of disguised insults in that article. The stinkbugs apparently die like Christians, kill them in bad ways but they keep coming back.

It is also thanks to diapause that stinkbugs, indoors, seem inordinately graceless and impossibly dumb. But, as we all now know, being graceless and dumb is no obstacle to being powerful and horrifying.

I smile knowingly.

Quaestor said...

Here's how I deal with stink bugs. Crushing them is a mistake, but drowning works wonders. I use a wet-dry vac with about four inches of very warm water in the pail. Then I add detergent, about 1/4 cup. Armed with my shop vac and an extended wand I vacuum up every bug I see. Using two or three wand sections gets 'em no matter how high they climb the walls. When they fall into the pail the detergent causes them to sink instantly. Death! Ha-ha! Death to Bugs!

Quaestor said...

Nice to know that these bugs don't like NYC.

I prefer stink bugs to bedbugs.

Marc said...

There is a single stinkbug that has been crawling around and over the laptops for a couple of weeks now. Perhaps not one of these, since it's only the one. Hmm.

Nonapod said...

I've killed about 25 of those guys so far this Winter.

LordSomber said...

They weren't always around here but now they've infested N. GA.
I hate them worse than roaches -- you can't squash them without releasing that smell.
Have to pick them up delicately and toss 'em in the commode.

California Snow said...

They could have put up a "This is a stink bug free zone" and it would have solved the problem. So I've been told.

dgstock said...

Thought the critter looked more like Hopi-Zuni art myself.

James Graham said...

Tear a paper towel in pieces, each about 2 by 3 inches. Carefully wrap the paper around the bug so that it is not crushed. Wet the package under a faucet and place in garbage.

Minimum water usage. Stink avoided. Bug dies peacefully.

James K said...

It was accidentally introduced into the United States.

The passive voice conceals something. So how was it introduced?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

(S)he is an actress, comedian, and horse trainer

So, unemployed?

YoungHegelian said...

My house got infested by relatively harmless but annoying cluster flies. I called TWELVE exterminators, including one that used to be a client, & none of them would touch the problem. Everything I read on-line took an "Abandon Hope, all ye infested here" attitude.

But, did I give up? No sirreee, Bob, I did not. I read up their habits, & spent months figuring out exactly where in the walls they were clustered, which actually followed their clustering pattern exactly (second story, SW wall). After I got them located, I got above them, drilled multiple small hidden from sight holes in the walls, and then blew insecticidal powder (not liquid) into the walls. Two weeks later, no more cluster flies.

I was so proud, & Mrs YH was amazed that I actually snuffed the little buggers.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

YoungHegelian said...

But, did I give up? No sirreee, Bob, I did not. I read up their habits, & spent months figuring out exactly where in the walls they were clustered...

I have visions of Bill Murray in Caddyshack...

Leora said...

I thought the illustration was tiki like. Appropriate for a South Seas kind of insect.

David-2 said...

@YoungHegelian - well done! Homo sapiens is the superior predator on the planet!

(Because of the sapiens.)

Fred Drinkwater said...

YH, you succeeded where the pros couldn't because you committed a federal crime. I bet you violated the insecticide label usage instructions.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Find its Asian predator; if they have a specialist parasitic wasp, that would be ideal. Then bring it over and let it do its thing.

A lot of entomological and ecological study would have to go in to such a project, but I have no doubt it's being worked on.

YoungHegelian said...

@Fred,

I bet you violated the insecticide label usage instructions.

The insecticide was so weak that there really weren't many usages to violate. Thus, the importance of getting the critters exactly where they lived.

SeanF said...

James K: It was accidentally introduced into the United States.

The passive voice conceals something. So how was it introduced?


According to Wikipedia: "The brown marmorated stink bug was accidentally introduced into the United States from China or Japan. It is believed to have hitched a ride as a stowaway in packing crates or on various types of machinery."

I like the "as a stowaway" bit, just to make sure we don't think it bought tickets.

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Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

JohnAnnArbor, the article does get around to mentioning the Japanese samauri wasp towards the end. I'm always leery of introducing predators to deal with invasive species, though; most of the time you've just got a second invasive species. But apparently the wasps were also "accidentally introduced" already. So there's that.

I hate these buggers, but here we're talking half a dozen at a time (so far), not tens of thousands (shudder). Annoying, but not the insect version of The Birds. Yet. Also according to the article, in OR they eat just about anything, like everywhere else, but prefer berries and hazelnuts. Keizer has vast hazelnut groves, and Minto-Brown Island Park has miles and miles of paths lined with blackberry (or marionberry) bushes. Oh, goody.

James K said...

It is believed to have hitched a ride as a stowaway in packing crates or on various types of machinery.

So free trade has its down sides.

Known Unknown said...

We name them and try to set them free whenever possible because they don't really do much.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

A long article with surfeit of deadwood. Jumped to the end for the peroration:

"Yet the most troubling thing about the natural world today is not all the things we have to live with. It is all the things we have to live without."

Huh?

stlcdr said...

Do not use a regular vacuum to get rid of these things!

It is quite amazing how small a gap these buggers can crawl through.