Welcome Wednesday guests for November:
11/05 Maya Corrigan's Five-Ingredient Mystery, By Cook or By Crook.
11/12 Death by Blue Water, a scuba-diving adventure-mystery by scuba-diving author, Kait Carson.
11/19 Susan Van Kirk--Three May Keep A Secret.
11/26 Tagged for Death, a garage sale mystery by Sherry Harris.

Gloria Alden has released the fourth book, The Body in the Goldenrod, in her Catherine Jewel series. It's available in print and in eformat. Here are two links to the book: Amazon and Kobo. Put it on your "TBR" or Christmas list!

Carla Damron's latest project, THE STONE NECKLACE, a literary novel about five lives that intersect, and are forever changed, by a senseless accident, has been picked up by Story River Books for publication in 2016. Story River is an arm of the University of South Carolina Press and is under the leadership of editor-in-chief author Pat Conroy. Congratulations, Carla!


A great stocking stuffer, Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays is available at Wildside Press or Amazon. This anthology includes short stories by WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances").

KM Rockwood's short stories will appear in two anthologies. They are: "The Lure of the Owl" in Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Stories, to be released as a ebook, (great cover, KM!) and "Aunt Olga and the Werewolf" will be included in the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity anthology released by Intrigue Publishing.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Stinkbugs

Over at Jungle Red Writers’ blog, Writing Well Is The Best Revenge, I recently read a blog about bedbugs. (They don’t like them-especially when they have to travel and stay in hotels.) That blog put bugs on my brain (I don’t like them either.) and I started to notice bugs everywhere, specifically stinkbugs. While the stinkbug does not harm humans like the bedbug, which feeds on human blood like a vampire, stinkbugs damage crops. Now, I’m seeing them all over the place, not just a few, but a lot.

A thunderstorm rolled in, and I raced around my Virginia home closing windows. As I shut each window, I noticed about six to ten stinkbugs on each screen. I have about 20 windows in my house and that comes to about one hundred-sixty bugs just on my windows. Then, I visited my sister in Pennsylvania. We sat out on her screen porch talking. I noticed stinkbugs littering the screens of her porch and some had infiltrated the porch, much to the Purr (Jaspurr and Caspurr) brothers’ interest. So, I’m thinking, what’s with all these stinkbugs?

Here’s my report for everyone else who has noticed this strange phenomenon and dares ask.

Much to my surprise, I found that the stinkbug is not indigenous to the U.S. It came to this country accidentally from East Asia through Eastern Pennsylvania. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMBS-how’s that for an appropriate acronym) was first noticed in Allentown, PA in September 1998. It now resides along the Eastern Seaboard, but hitched rides to the West Coast and has been spotted in California and Oregon. The middle of the country has yet to see the Pentatomidae. In the bugs’ native China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, stinkbugs are pests that damage crops, and the bugs are now damaging our Mid-Atlantic region’s crops due to their great reproductive capabilities. Stinkbugs have no known predators in the U. S.

Fall’s cooler temperatures attract stinkbugs to houses, the reason I’m noticing them now. Much like other bugs and rodents, when colder weather sets in, the stinkbug tries to find a warm place to hibernate for the winter. Our first instinct when we see bugs is to tromp on them. This isn’t the best method for dealing with stinkbugs because when crushed, their “stink” is released. Stinkbugs use the odor as a natural defense against their predators who would love to eat them if only they didn’t stink. Okay, so the stink isn’t pleasant, but there’s an even worse reason not to crush them. Like a homing device, the stink becomes a marker that they sense, flashing a neon “Welcome” sign, which brings them back to the same place even a year later. Don’t try vacuuming them unless you already need a new vacuum.

Pesticides are not recommended when houses are infested. Pesticides are harmful to humans. Although they will kill hundreds of stinkbugs, those dead bugs caught behind walls and in other unreachable areas attract carpet beetles, which, unbothered by the stench, will munch on the dead bodies, multiply and eat through every woolen item in your home.

Pottstown, PA is so disturbed by them that citizens have posted killing methods on their cleverly named town blog, Pottstown's Blog. One successful method, which will kill the stinkbugs and render them less tasty to carpet beetles, is disgusting. Take a half pack of cigarettes and soak them in one half gallon of water, let stand, and then strain into a spray bottle and aim. Remember to wear gloves. Nicotine is poisonous and can be absorbed through skin.

Now, what does all this have to do with writing? Including natural phenomena, such as bugs, in your manuscript adds an interesting and real touch. My setting is the Outer Banks, N.C. timed during the month of September, the buggiest month of the year. Anyone who has been to the Outer Banks in late summer can tell you about the mosquitoes. Dare County, which encompasses southern Bodie and Hatteras Islands, pays for nightly drive-by killing sprees. Pesticide trucks cruise through neighborhoods releasing toxic fumes. Not an environmentally sound policy, but if you have spent time on the Outer Banks at this time of year, you would shudder to think how many more bugs would exist had they cut the hit men from the budget.

A few weeks ago, I was on Hatteras Island enjoying the evening while reading on a roofed upper deck. The deck light was on and, as it got dark, bugs became attracted to the light. The darkness interfered with my reading, so I closed my book and started toward the door with the intention of continuing my reading inside. When I looked toward the light located near the door, I found an eerie scene closely resembling one in Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Moths lined the roof of the deck and around the wall surrounding the light, like vacant aircraft. I moved silently so as not to disturb the insects when a large bug flew at the light and started screaming. Trapped on an upper deck outside without another way to get into the house, I freaked. A friend unlocked and opened a sliding glass door further down the deck. I surprised her by jumping in and slamming the door shut.

We later found out that the large bug was a cicada. I knew they buzzed loudly, but before that night, had never heard them scream, which just may be an interesting effect in my paranormal novel and another way to torture my poor protagonist, Abby Jenkins. After learning about the stinkbugs, I’m now contemplating an infiltration of stinkbugs in Abby’s champagne and sparkling wine store, adding that “truth is stranger than fiction” element, lending validity to fictional trauma.

Has anyone else noticed stinkbugs?

(Evidently, others have noticed stinkbugs. Two days after writing this blog, The Washington Post’s front page included an article entitled, “Big bug trouble that’s tough to squash” by Lena H. Sun (9/25/10). Allentown, Ms. Sun agrees, was the site of first discovery, but contends that the year was 2001, not 1998 cited in other articles I’ve read. Maryland Representative Roscoe Bartlett sent a letter signed by fifteen other U.S. Representatives to the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to “take immediate action to limit damage caused by” stinkbugs. Because the bug has no predators, working groups have formed among several states’ agricultural departments and state universities to study this problem.)

8 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Who knew? Well now I do, and my evil mind has thought a several uses of the little critters for revenge.

Good thing I only write about these things, I could get in a lot of trouble otherwise.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Fiction writers have devious minds and can make the most out of the smallest things-like stinkbugs!
I ran into them this weekend in our garage. They were inside a package of sandpaper!
Yes, my poor protagonist, Abby, is going to have a stinkbug problem, just like me, only worse. She'll have to remember FDR's advice. "The only thing we have to fear is fear inself." Updated-paranoia can destroy ya. Considering the title of my book is TOASTING FEAR, she'll have an over flowing champagne flute of fears.

Polly said...

On my trip north last week, my husband and I stayed two nights in a motel, going and coming. The first thing I did was check the mattress for bedbugs. I'm totally freaked by those things. Both places were free of them, but I wasn't on the lookout for stinkbugs. We were in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I haven't noticed them in SC, but now I'll be on the lookout. I hope I don't see them. I have enough problem with Palmetto bugs.

Pauline Alldred said...

I'm not going to retire to a warmer climate because I've noticed that bugs in hotter places are larger and more numerous.

When my dad was overseas fighting in the desert, he said he could never enjoy his food because insects flocked to compete for whatever was on his plate.

Supriya Savkoor said...

You have hit on my hot button topic of the year! What is WITH all the stink bugs lately?? Well, thanks for answering the question. I'd heard they were a new species to N. America and will only get worse over the next decade before it gets better. How does it affect my writing? One more reason to procrastinate. ;))

hcase said...

Most likely transported to America in shipping crates and first collected in September of 1998 in Allentown, PA, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a strong flier that has shown a remarkable ability to rapidly expand its territory. Read the full post here: http://pestcontrolcenter.com/blog/Index.php?cat=258&paged=2

jason said...

stink bugs flew in the house every spring season. and I hate them when they are in the house because they leave nasty scent and causes me headache.

Ubaid Raza said...

Lynne used to worry she had a serious problem with daydreaming, then she discovered she was supposed to write the stories in her head. A late bloomer, Lynne came to fiction writing after her children were nearly grown. Now she battles the empty nest by writing stories which always include a romance, sometimes medicine, a dose of mirth, or both, but always stories from her heart. She is a Southern California native, married for almost thirty years, has two adult children she is super proud of, is a dog lover, cat admirer, a power walker, and fellow traveler on this wild road called life!

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