Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stink Bug Eradication Techniques

So last night, at a family event, my tiny little awesome cousin/nephew Ben discovered a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys) on the game he was playing with. He was not pleased. Neither is anyone else on the Eastern Seaboard...

Since being introduced from Asia almost 10 years ago, the slow moving Stink Bug population has exploded, especially this year when a mild winter prevented their yearly natural extermination. They meander their way into our homes, as many can attest. They lazily infested the air conditioning unit in the loft of my mother-in-law's home where my wife and I stayed while between houses this summer. They slowly crawl all over the exterior walls of my sister's house, twitching and feeling, twitching and feeling. Their dead accumulate in light fixtures, cereal bowls, and sock drawers.

Several papers have covered the infestation (here and here), and while various sites do insist that the bug is harmless to humans and has not even proven (yet) to be detrimental to crop growth, no one has suggested much of a means to get rid of these nuisance critters.

That's where I (and you) come in. After previous experimentation on this topic, I crushed the offending stink bug between my fingers last night to enlighten my family to the fact that the Brown Marmolated Stink Bug, in fact, doesn't really stink. It smells like Cilantro. After a rousing game of "Smell My Finger", I had about half of the audience convinced. To the other half, I submit the following evidence. A whopping 6% of registered users on Ihatecilantro.com cite Stink Bugs as the flavor/smell that most closely resembles Cilantro.

Okay, okay, not very overwhelming. But if you look at the other articles linked throughout this posting, you'll see that I'm not alone. Lots of folks link the smell of stinkbugs and cilantro... not just the cilantro haters. (You've got to love devotion to a cause like that... Ihatecilantro.com? Come ON!)

The biggest problem with this invasive species is a lack of natural predators. Many birds, amphibians, etc either don't like the cilantro-esqe taste, or haven't discovered that these stink bugs are edible yet.

Now whether you believe in Global Warming or not, one has to admit that a natural predator would be a preferable method of population control to saturating our every living surface, interior and exterior, with your fave Insecticide. (What's yours? Mine is YardGuard, because it can be easily said with a Pirate inflection: "Avast, gimme the Yaaaarrd-Guaaaarrd, ye landlubbing bunghole!")

So, in the interest of Environmental Activism, why not introduce ourselves as natural predators for the Brown Stink Bug? Only 2000 or so fanatics really don't like Cilantro, so I think the rest of us can make a big dent in the population. Various regions of Mexico already eat other species of Stink Bugs Tacos. (Seriously.) And I found this delightful recipe for Stink Bug Pate online.

And so, dear readers, I urge you to experiment and then submit your favorite Stink Bug Recipes. Yes, especially you, Carolyn. Not only because this post is in your honor, (for being the only unwilling participant in the "Smell My Finger" game.) But because you're the only member of the family who has a formal culinary education. If any body can swallow their cultural stereotypes and down experimental Stink Bug recipe after experimental Stink Bug recipe, its you...