Stink Bug Forecast: Biblical

6:07 PM, Feb 16, 2011   |    comments
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KNOXVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- Enjoy the weather while you can.

Scientists warn the warm temperatures are waking a plague that's likely to hit biblical proportions: Billions of stink bugs -- far worse than last year -- hitting by the end of the month.

In his 90-year-old farmhouse south of Frederick, Doug Inkley is already under siege. He's a biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, and he loves bugs. He has a big beetle sculpture on his front porch. But he absolutely hates stink bugs.


They land on his face at night while he's sleeping. They die in enormous quantities just inside his window screens.

And the stink bugs are everywhere in his rural home. They've overwintered in his attic.  "Oow, yeah. I just found dozens fly out at me," he says, showing a photographer masses of them under his insulation. "There's another 50 right there."

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This past weekend, he sucked up 8000 of them with the vacuum cleaner he keeps close at hand at all times.

As the temperatures rise, the stink bugs are crawling out toward the nearby farm fields to devoir millions, maybe billions of dollars in fruit and veggies.

"I keep meticulous records," says Inkley. "I'm a scientist. But I didn't want my house to become an experiment. In invasive species... I now have a total that I've collected just since January 1st of 12,000 of them. I've got to kill 'em."

The bugs invaded from Asia. They have no natural predators here. "Oh God. Look at that. All the stink bugs I swept up with my vacuum. If that doesn't give the willies I don't know what does. "

Every year, their population has climbed exponentially.

Michael Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland who's been studying the bugs, predicts this year will be the worst, with everyone, everyone getting the creepy crawlies.

"If this doesn't show we have to do something about invasive species, I don't know what does," says Inkley. He says border enforcement to keep out invasive pests is far too lax.

The bugs don't bite, sting, or carry human diseases as far as we know. But they do stink if you squish them.

Lots of people say a little dish-washing detergent mixed with water in a spray bottle will kill them. Some recommend steeping a pack of cigarettes in the liquid.

Written by Bruce Leshan

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