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Fear and Loathing in Bucks County, PA: Here Come Stinkbugs

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Bucks County, get ready. As record snowfall starts to recede and temperatures rise, here come stinkbugs! Just in time to ruin your affluent, metro-suburban Spring.

The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) is an invasive species with a unique history in Pennsylvania. According to entomologists, H. halys (snappy nickname!) appears to have been accidentally introduced into eastern Pennsylvania. Scientists first documented stinkbugs in Allentown, PA between 1996 and 1998, but no one knows the exact year stinkbugs arrived in the United States. Specimens have been collected in 37 Pennsylvania counties, and likely exist throughout the eastern seaboard. The journal Biological Invasions (yes, there is a science journal for that) traced the origin of the U.S. stinkbug to Beijing, China. Thank you, Communism!

What's the big deal, you ask? Two words: Crop damage. Stinkbugs cost millions of dollars in lost and damaged produce yearly. Apple growers recently lost an estimated $37 million in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and stinkbugs are expected to continue their Sherman's March across our crops in 2014.

For homeowners, stinkbugs inspire fear and loathing, just because. Sounding like tiny helicopters during flight, stinkbugs look ugly and, true to their name, smell ugly. When threatened or killed, stinkbugs emit an odor described as somewhere between "dirty socks" and "a week-old human corpse wearing dirty socks".

Stinkbug funk is repulsive to predators, but immediately attracts other stinkbugs... including potential mates. Yes, you are gagging at the stinkbug version of Sex Panther cologne... and it works 100% of the time, 100% of the time.

Do stinkbugs bite humans? Opinions differ. Scientists who study stinkbugs say "No" while people who report being bitten say "OW!!" When feeding, the stinkbug jabs a needle-like mouthpart into soft fruits and vegetables to suck out precious nutrients within. Replace "soft fruits and vegetables" with "warm human flesh" and try to imagine the anxiety of a home invasion by hordes of these whizzing little stink missles.

Yes, I said "hordes". The stinkbug is the Lay's potato chip of pests: You can't have just one. Multiplied by dozens (and in some infestations, thousands) "stinkbug-ophobia" quickly becomes a thing. A thing that you have. Along with stinkbugs.

Who you gonna call? Unfortunately, there is no consensus about how to repel or avoid stinkbug infestation. This gives rise to various inventors and entrepreneurs, tackling America's stinkbug problem with good old-fashioned gumption, pluck, vim, vigor, yadda-yadda, and etc.

One local example is Hunterdon County, NJ inventor Jody Williams, who has spent years devising do-it-yourself stinkbug traps along with instructional YouTube videos, such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmbUDHqKVoc

The reigning king of stinkbug entrepreneurs is Andrew Strube, proprietor of Strube Stinkbug Traps of Columbia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Strube was working in a different industry when he and his family suffered a stinkbug infestation in his residence. He experimented with professional and commercial extermination practices, but the stinkbugs just kept coming. After much trial and error, Strube combined a light source to lure the stinkbugs inside a customized cylinder covered in adhesive to trap and kill them in place. Through commercial success and experimentation, Strube Stinkbug Traps have grown not just in sales, but also in size: The Strube PREDATOR trap for commercial and agricultural applications is tractor mounted, more than 12 feet high, and destroys more than 10,000 stinkbugs per day.

Check out Strube Stinkbug Traps home and commercial anti-stinkbug technology at http://www.stinkbugtrapsonline.com, or give the guy a LIKE for killing millions of stinkbugs at https://www.facebook.com/stinkbugtraps

Full disclosure: I own and operate a Strube Stinkbug Trap (see photo).

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