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Stink bug extinction methods abound; don't try them all at once

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe

Lynne D. Schwabe is the director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at schwabestatejournal@gmail.com.

I missed the Plague of Locusts. Just so that I didn't feel left out, the universe sent me earwigs: slim insects that look like a stealth bomber with pinchers. They don't bite (don't know what the pinchers are for) and especially like damp places, the shower being particularly enticing for them. They like to congregate en masse in one's house, which is seriously creepy.

I was not pleased about the earwig development, but I rose above it, maintaining a calm demeanor and just shuddering slightly when trying to de-earwig my environs. However, I draw the line at the plague of the stink bugs.

Honestly, this is just too much.

North Korea is one place of origin of the stink bug, which has found its way from North Korean prison camps onto and into my house. I can't blame any living thing for wanting to escape prison camps, but I make an exception for the stink bug. These scourges from hell are dime-sized horrors that look as if they are wearing a suit of armor. They could survive a nuclear holocaust. They drone around and land on things like windows, your arm or the coffee table, scaring the crap out of you. They are ugly, and they smell awful if you touch or squash them. My cat won't even go near them, and she's all over anything else that crawls. Stink bugs can get into almost any little crevice, and my house is filled with crevices.

The only good thing about stink bugs is they are non-aggressive. Oh, aggressive about wallpapering every surface of your house with their stinky bodies, but they are totally uninterested in humans except as landing pads. They don't bite. They just stink (so badly, in fact, that I gag now when I smell their odor).

Everyone is complaining about stink bugs on social media. Households throughout America are afflicted, so much so that some self-starter with an inventive streak put a video on YouTube telling people how to construct a stink bug trap that is, according to him, very effective. It costs a mere $7 to make. You put the trap in your living room and all available stink bugs think it's a nightclub with a disco ball, and they crawl into it and die.

I quickly recruited my neighbor, Handyman Bob, for this project. It required an empty two liter pop bottle, a one-sided razor blade, an LED light (suitable for pop bottles), electrical tape and masking tape — all things that I don't have.

At the grocery store, I chose diet cola. I knew I would have to dispense with the whole bottle, and so I was mindful of my waistline. After I had a couple of refreshing glasses of cola, I went to the hardware store.

“Do you have flamethrowers? I have stink bugs and I am beside myself.”

Apparently this is a common request, because the teenaged clerk didn't bat an eye.

“No, ma'am.” He smiled but offered nothing. I got out my phone to show the instructional video to the clerk. Suddenly animated, he nodded knowingly.

“Oh, yeah, that,” he said. “We have almost sold out of LED lights, but we have two left. We sold 30 today. Everybody is making these things. I bet that video has gotten over a million hits.

“But, wait a minute! We have stink bug traps in stock. To kill the stink bugs before they get into your house.”

Eureka. I was ecstatic. You simply assemble the traps and hang them on trees. You bait them with a pheromone thingy that the stink bugs find irresistible. The recommendation was one trap per acre, so I bought two for my handkerchief-sized yard. I believe in overkill. The clerk also pointed out poison spray (harmful to invertebrates and aquatic life) that kills stink bugs. I got a bottle of that stuff, too. So, thanks to the YouTube video for the $7 trap, I escaped the hardware store with $60 worth of merchandise.

At home, while Handyman Bob assembled the $7 traps, I sprayed all the windows from the outside, being careful to avoid invertebrates and aquatic life. Then we hung the outdoor traps with the stink bug pheromones on them to attract the little devils.

After using Goo Gone to remove the sticky substance from the traps from my fingers, I sat down, relieved and hopeful. Handyman Bob sniffed. And sniffed again. He approached me.

“Lynne, you smell like stink bug pheromones.”

He is now searching for a YouTube video on “How to Muffle Hysterical Screaming.”