Monday, January 21, 2013

So THAT'S What This is

I was sitting in the recliner last week, BBC in the lap, crocheting away. I put up the footrest and Mija will lie under it. We were all nice and content when we heard this noise. It sounded like something fell over by the front window; something the weight of a piece of paper. The girls heard it too and both of them went to investigate the source of the sound.

Mija found it first. As she started pawing at it, I was certain it was a bug. Pilchard investigated it but wasn't inclined to paw at it. It seemed to jump about but, after about 10 minutes of watching and cat scanning, they came back to the recliner. I figured it was a fly. Flies will get inside a nook or a cranny and sort of hibernate. Then, as it warms up, they move, groggily, into the air, falling because the air temperature is not what is needed for them. You just scoop them up and either flush or toss outside. Shakespeare used to eat the flies he'd find in the winter.

I ignored the location of the noise until it was time to make supper. When I went to look, I saw the above. Okay, it's a harlequin bug, otherwise known, to me, as a potato bug. These bugs are destructive to potato plants. I scooped it up in a tissue and flushed. I don't grow potatoes but I know it's not a beneficial insect to have about the house. I didn't give it another thought.

Then, late last week, a news story in my green news feed caused me to think about what I'd flushed. "If you live along the East Coast, there's a pretty good chance that stink bugs may be lurking in your attic or even behind your curtains. The invasive insects from Asia, which exude a rubber-like stench when you crush them, are a nuisance for you, but a serious pest for farmers." (Full article here.) I took a look at the photo and remembered the bug I had flushed. The cell phone photo doesn't give decent resolution but they looked the same.

I've heard, from friends, that the stink bug smell is horrid, that it can take days to rid your hands, clothing and house of the smell from one crushed bug. If that's exactly what this was, and I think the photo's similarities can't be ignored, I am very glad I just scooped it up, as I do with spiders, and flushed it. Of course now I'm kind of wishing I'd dropped the thing in a plastic bag and taken it to the University of Illinois Extension Office for proper identification. I know harlequin bugs. They look very similar to stink bugs. I would think, however, that a stink bug's presence would want to be known since they are an invader.

There has not been another since the one. I will be on the look out, now that I know there's the possibility of stink bugs. I'm really glad the girls just play with bugs and don't eat them. I've never smelled a stink bug and don't want to. I can't imagine how bad they'd taste.

Beverage: Darjeeling tea


1 comment:

  1. Yup, that's a stink bug all right! When they "stink", they smell like really rotten, strong cilantro! Our house is infested with them and whenever I use the oven, they come out of their hiding places. I usually collect them in a plastic ziplock bag and toss the bag out after a day or so - nasty! If they do stink, it doesn't last that long, so it's not too bad. Good luck!