Revenge of the Stink Bug

There are several different kinds of stink-type bugs.  You can google them for images and they all look creepy.  They all stink.  I don’t like them; I never will.   

The one type I really have a problem with is the Leaf-footed Bug or LFB.  It is also know as the Long-legged Bug and looks like it’s wearing bell-bottoms.  Its Latin name is Leptoglossus phyllopus; classification: order Hemiptera,  family Coreidae, genus Narnia.  I searched the word Narnia to see if there was any connection with it and the C.S. Lewis stories but couldn’t find one.   I didn’t look too hard so let me know if you find one.

Anyway, these bugs tend to enjoy hanging out on my south-facing brick wall.  The just hang out; sometimes they move, for instance, when I go to open my car door and they fly toward me, terrorizing me.  I don’t mind a spider or fly in my car, but not a leaf-footed terrorist.  The problem with them hanging about my brick wall is that my garage door is in that brick wall and they like to fly into the garage when I open the door.   If they get into my garage, they have a good chance of getting into my house and that’s not allowed.  I have to open my garage door at least once a week to take the trash cans out.

One trash day eve I found several of these bugs on my garage door wall and did not want to open the door until they were gone.  I called the County Extension office to find out what they were (I didn’t know the name at that time since I had never seen them before) and how to get rid of them.  I was told they are called Leaf-footed Bugs and you can kill them with Wasp/Hornet spray.  Lucky for me I had some so I killed off about 2 dozen with half a can.  I got my trash cans to the street and was pleased with myself.

I had forgotten to buy another can of spray and trash day came around again.  I decided I’d hose them off with the power spray setting on the garden hose.  It worked; I got them all off, drowned and washed off the driveway and onto the grass.  I saw a few more nearer my front door and thought “why not?”  So with one hand on the spray nozzle, I grabbed the hose with my left hand to pull it out further away from where we coiled it.  OUCH!  I felt like I was stung by a wasp.  Looking down I saw that when I grabbed the hose, I grabbed a LFB also.  They were all over the hose. Ugh!  My left, middle finger was in pain and bleeding profusely.  So I ran, screaming, into the house, upsetting my teen-age boys as I put my finger under a cold faucet.  I was squeezing my finger wondering if I had some toxin in me.  I didn’t want it to go through my bloodstream so I kept squeezing my fingertip letting the blood flow out under the water. 

When the ordeal was over and my finger stopped throbbing I searched the internet to see if they sting.  No, they don’t but some have spikes or sharp spines on them.  I must have squeezed the hose tight enough to put a spike through my finger.  They are not poisonous and I will not turn into a LFB so I’m quite relieved.

But I was terrorized a second time, just last week.  I had brought in my patio umbrella so it wouldn’t mildew over the winter.  I was certain there were no bugs or eggs of any kind on the thing when I brought it in.  It’s in my laundry room in the corner.  So last week, I went to do laundry and there, next to the washing machine was a small, yet terroristic LFB.  I dropped a kitchen towel over it, wrapped it up and threw it out the back door.  The next day I walked all over that towel to make sure the bug was dead.  I did a good job.  And, yes, I carried the stinky towel into the house and threw it immediately into the wash. 

So, what are these things good for?  Nothing, really. LFBs are voracious eaters and will wreak havoc on developing fruit, cotton, peaches, tomatoes, beans, black-eyed peas and potatoes.  They also feed on nut trees and pine cones.  They showed up here after the cotton is cut down.  My neighborhood backs up to cotton farms.  This is also a large pecan growing area and my house is surrounded by pines.  I think they’re here to stay.  Life was easier at the beach!

The other thing to know about them is that they overwinter inside your house.  So, that’s why they’re on the top part of the wall, near the soffit.  They look for cracks to live in when it’s cold.   I think I’ll be heading out now to buy some more Wasp/Hornet spray before they decide to move in.

Here are some great sources for learning more about this horrid little critter.  Alabama Cooperative Extension: http://www.aces.edu/timelyinfo/entomology/2010/October/October_%2012.pdf;  Texas A&M informaton: http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/aimg65.html; University of FL Extension:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in534; Life Cycle of a Stink Bug: http://www.cirrusimage.com/bugs_leaf_footed.htm.

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