Stink Bug Epidemic Bugging Everyone

Ew, what’s that smell?

Penn Manor, as well as the Lancaster County area, is being invaded with big brown stink bugs and resourceful consumers are finding ways to combat them.

Specifically named the “Brown Marmorated Stink Bug,” these insects weren’t seen on our continent until an accidental incident occurred in eastern Pennsylvania.

According to Penn State’s entomology researchers, these shield-shaped pests were first collected in September 1998 but were predicted to have arrived a few years prior to the captivation.They’re native to Japan, Korea and east China, but in those locations there are other bugs that prey on them, controlling the populations.

A stink bug crawls along the grass.

Many residents, including students at Penn Manor, are suffering the stink bug invasion within the walls of their own homes.

“My house stinks like them. It’s awful,” said senior Crystal Bugner.

“I was swarmed by like 60 of them the other day,” said Justice Hower, also a senior.

These bugs are also a huge nuisance to farmers, destroying important crops and fruit orchards such as peaches, apples, figs, soybeans, field corn, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Tom Haas, owner of Cherry Hill Orchards, estimated that about 20 percent of this year’s peach crop was damaged and could not be offered for sale. He had to choose other options such as processing the fruit into juice in order to bring a small profit from the damaged goods. Still, however,  a majority of the crop was wasted and thrown out.

Tele-Pest Inc., a Lancaster-based pest-control company with six offices in the county, said that toward the end of September they were getting up to 30 calls a day regarding the stink bug issue.

So what’s the good news? Unfortunately, there is none.

No known natural controls for the brown marmorated stink bug have been discovered yet. Nondiscriminating chemical killers can be used as a short term solution, but those sprays can also get rid of all the beneficial insects as well. If the useful bugs were killed off from the pesticides, unfavorable consequences would effect the environment and even the economy.

Have no fear though, other methods of eliminating the pests are being researched around the clock. One company is researching and producing an indoor trap for houses suffering from the invasion. The trap will attract the bugs using a pheromone chemical and confine them in one area as opposed to an entire house.

The most researched and practical way to control the stink bug population at this moment would be to bring in a few of the bug’s natural predators from Japan, Korea and East China. This however could take up to two years in order to study the effects the stink bug’s predators could have on the ecosystems in America. Scientists must discover if importing them into our wild would be more detrimental than the stink bugs themselves.

Until a useful method of containing the vermin is found, many have resorted to flushing them down toilets or vacuuming them up. But the downside of this is the bugs smell when you handle them and leave the room tainted with the smelly aroma.

“I catch them in water bottles and close the bottles to let the bugs die in there,” Said Bugner.

“I know the French make a gravy out of stink bugs. I heard its quite tasty,” said Hower.

Certain household cleaners are known to combat stink bugs.

Regardless of the insane concept of this idea, there is indeed a recipe featuring roasted stink bugs called Stink Bug Pate. The recipe can be found at

http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/special/creepy/bugpate.html#axzz12jGZVmPp

A less stinky way of handling the epidemic within one’s home is to call a local exterminator. They spray low-level pesticides on the outside and insides of homes in order to prevent more bugs from getting in and kill off the ones already inside. This is not a fool-proof method however.

“We really can’t do much for people. There’s no guarantee,” said Ed Saunders of Tele-Pest Inc.

Methods such as garlic and mint leaves have been used in households to try to drive the insects away because their potent scents are repelling to stink bugs, according to contributors to eHow.com.

The household cleaner Fabulouso has also been known to eliminate the stink bugs. This cleaner can be diluted slightly, put into a sprayer and applied directly to the pests.  Fabulouso can be purchased in stores such as Dollar General.

Even with the household remedies, the stink bugs are an epidemic that cannot be fully controlled as of now. Until a solution is found, the pests will continue to stink up the halls of Penn Manor and its residents’ homes.

“They are like cockroaches, they won’t die off!” said senior Casey May.

By Cassie Funk and Christa Charles

Comments

  1. “Specifically named the “Brown Marmorated Stink Bug,” these insects weren’t seen on our continent until an accidental incident occurred in eastern Pennsylvania.”

    You say there was an accidental incident. What was it? You didn’t explain it…

  2. A few comments:
    1) I’m very impressed to see this story in a high school paper. Good coverage of your community.
    2) I love, love, LOVE that you quoted a student named Bugner in your bug story.
    3) You might want to check your photo to make sure it really is of a brown marmorated stink bug. I fear it might not be.
    Nevertheless, good story and good newspaper! Glad I stumbled upon it.
    Laura Moyer
    Fredericksburg, Va.