Sunday, October 4, 2009

Invasion of the Stink Bugs

Dusk fell in as I neared the end of my drive into West Virginia. Large industrial harvesters crawled over the soybean-covered hills, piercing the dark with their headlights and trailing wide clouds of brown dust that settled in the hollows.

Here, I met a new exotic agricultural pest, the brown marmorated stink bug. This insect likely hitched a ride to the U.S. from China or Japan, where it feeds on numerous fruits and legumes (e.g. soybeans!). This new stink bug has established itself throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest, where it's introduced itself to the locals by forcing its way into their homes as the weather cools (like its obnoxious brother, the box elder bug). When alarmed (or smashed), these creatures release a scent that's been compared to rancid almonds.

Apparently, smashing one may be enough to make a room temporarily uninhabitable AND attracts more stink bugs (which are simply trying to aggregate in a good hibernating spot in the first place).

"Marmorated," by the way, supposedly means "Having a marbled or streaked appearance."

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