If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Stink Bugs Part II

I long for Vincent Price—not in his movies—but in his Zapper commercials, in which he killed bugs with the sound of “ZAP” and grinned manically while his wife rolled her eyes in the background. Why? I’m being driven nuts by stink bugs.

Writers have favorite places to read and write. My favorite place is on my screen porch. Even though the screen is supposed to keep the bugs out, they seem to have their own Enigma machine aiding them to infiltrate my private lair. At night, I hear the whoosh of moth wings on the porch light, annoying enough, but now I hear the clunk of primeval stink bug fuselage hitting my light and siding. Has this happened to you?

Last night, it took me three tries to kill a *%# stink bug. Their flat bodies are such that a whack with a rolled up magazine or fly swatter sometimes doesn’t do the job. They hide in crevices lying in wait to annoy us in as many ways as they are in number. But my problems with the nasty critters pale beside those of farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region, especially Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

As I reported last fall, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD) set up a tri-state commission to study the bug and find solutions preventing the pest’s destruction. Although stink bugs will eat just about anything, fruit crops have been hit the worst, especially apples and peaches. Apple orchards in Catoctin, MD have reported a 50% destruction rate, the worst so far. Other orchards have reported 30-40% in reduced yields. The U. S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 18% ($37 million) of the Mid-Atlantic region’s apple crop has been destroyed by stink bugs.

(I wonder if Sheila Connolly will include the stink bug as a problem for her protagonist in her apple orchard series.)

Some scientists are focusing on keeping the stink bug population under control using a similar technique used on the Japanese beetles. Bag-a-bug uses chemicals that attract and trap the insect. So far, none is on the market for stink bugs.

The chemical, dinotefuran, which is manufactured by the Japanese company, Mitsui Chemicals, seems the most promising. Mitsui Chemicals applied and gained approval from EPA for its use on vegetable crops, but it is not currently approved for orchard use. The state of Virginia seeks an exemption from EPA for dinotefuran’s application in orchards. If approved, the exemption will enable its use in other states as well, starting as soon as July.

Other scientists are dubious of using pesticides because the stink bug is so mobile and productive, killing one community of stink bugs allows another to move into the orchard. The alternative to chemicals is a natural predator of the stink bug, a parasitic wasp—but it must be determined if the predator wasp will cause more problems than it is worth.

Meanwhile, I spray chemicals around the parameter of my house in hope of keeping not only the stink bug at bay, but also camel crickets, which totally gross me out. A cross between a spider and a cricket, camel crickets can jump many feet in the air (usually at you as you try to smack them) and have soft bodies that squish when you successfully attack. While the horseshoe crab may have served as the predator alien in the movie Aliens, the camel cricket serves as my prototype for horror creatures and nightmares. Although writing on my porch in fall and spring can be a chilly experience, writing on the porch during summer can induce paranoia.

Has your writing been effected by pests?


Sheila Connolly said...

So far the critters haven't made it to New England, but my husband's sister, who lives in MD, has been battling them for two years now.

My husband is a research entomologist and works for the USDA, but he refuses to comment on anything other than his specific research areas (he's useless with household pests!).

Poor Meg--doesn't she have enough to worry about without a plague of stink bugs? All those bodies that keep popping up...

E. B. Davis said...

As soon as I heard the statistics from the apple orchards, I thought of you and your main character, the apple orchard owner, Meg. I'm surprised the pests haven't made it up your way yet. In the Mid-Atlantic region, we are being plagued! Good luck with Meg (love the series) and on your new Irish series. Hope the leg has healed.

Pauline Alldred said...

Maybe the cold winters in New England keep down the numbers of stink bugs. They are ugly-looking things and I can only imagine how bad it must be to see hundreds of them at one time.

Now they threaten our fruit. Seriously, I can imagine going after them with a bazooka.

I second Elaine's comment and hope Sheila's leg has healed.

E. B. Davis said...

We had an extremely cold winter around the D. C. area, but spring came early so perhaps the extended New England winter helps keep down the bugs. In Hatteras, the mosquitoes are in force through November. I couldn't believe it when I found one in the car with me.

Kara Cerise said...

I flushed one last night. Ugh I heard they are set to invade DC on a "bibical" level. Sounds like a setting for a horror movie.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, Kara--I feel like there is an invasion occuring around me. I see the evidence even if it doesn't directly involve me. But those brown flat bugs--bug me!

Warren Bull said...

Definite horror movie potential. A secret government-funded biological warfare laboratory creates a hybrid stink camel cricket which jumps on people and is tough to kill to drive out enemies bonkers. they escape the lab and threaten the town. An intrepid group of WWII war enactors with flame throwers save the day.

E. B. Davis said...

LOL! Warren. But get the creep factor in too-they hide in your bed at night waiting for you...

Kaye George said...

My daughter in DC has had them. I'm not sure if her new house has them or not--I hope not! But I thought you weren't supposed to squash them--isn't that when they stink?

E. B. Davis said...

When so many are around, you get to the point when you have to get rid of the buggers even if they do stink. Yes, I squash them, hold my nose, and dispose of the offending matter. At least on the screen porch the smell disapates quickly!

Kaye George said...

I'm sure it's better on a porch than inside--true!

jason said...

does it really the cold climate, that the stink bugs lessen their population?