I may have been inadvertently crowned Queen of Stinkbugs by The New Yorker Magazine a year of so ago (still, unbelievably, one of their most read articles), but that doesn’t mean I welcome the little boogers as they make their annual pilgrimage into my house.
Those of us who’ve been through an infestation know the feeling of despair we get the moment we see that first one — generally around September and generally having flown in after hanging onto the frame directly behind the door — making its way across a window, television screen or bed spread.
Paul and I were hosting friends for dinner a week ago and after giving our home its quarterly scrub down, I was horrified to see no fewer than four stink bugs make their way across the wall above the door, just out of my reach (which is considerable). Our guests were due to arrive at any moment and how exactly do you explain to people who’ve never seen stink bugs that everyone in the south has to battle with them, they’re not like cockroaches and you’re not a slob, honest!
As the bugs turned and began to migrate southwards down the wall, I popped into the mudroom for a broom and dustpan to sweep them up yet when I returned they were gone.
“That’s weird,” I thought, and as our first guests arrived I spent the early part of the evening with a queasy feeling that at any moment one of the stink bugs would reappear climbing up a table leg, over a fork, or someone’s hand. Luckily, no one was subjected to such a horror and even luckier, everyone was on their second glass of wine when I spied one out the corner of my eye moving slowly across the dish washer. But when I glanced again in a minute or two, it had also vanished.
We enjoyed a lovely evening. The conversational ball was tossed back and forth between us all and there was a great deal of laughter. Poppy and Posey, disobedient as always and mooching about for hand-outs, made the rounds under the table and were greeted with affectionate cuddles from everyone they investigated.
It was well after everyone had left and Paul and I were clearing up when I noted the dogs seemingly riveted to the front door. Ears pricked, they each began to snuffle the door frame and as I stepped closer I could see what they were doing: Waiting for the stink bugs that had managed to swoop in just as we had closed the door after our last guest and hiding in the crevice of the door frame before emerging.
“They’re eating the stink bugs!” I croaked, aghast. “That is disgusting — even the cats won’t go near them.”
“That’s not disgusting, that’s hitting the lottery,” said Paul, peering from behind the kitchen island. “If that means less of those little (expletive)s in the house this fall, I’m all about it.”
“Until we get the vet bill,” I muttered and pounced upon the google machine, feverishly searching “are stink bugs poisonous to dogs.”
From what I read on a couple of veterinary sites the answer is no, with the caveat that the bug’s secretions can cause digestive upset. So while you might have fewer bugs, you may find yourself stepping on even worse things in the middle of the night.
“I’m hoping that as we have two dogs, they’ll divide the spoils and not get sick,” I said, frowning. “Maybe we should consider a third dog just in case.”
“That’s like advertising for a roommate in hopes that they’ll eat the fruitcake your cousin gave you last Christmas,” Paul pointed out. “No more dogs.”
“Alright for now,” I acquiesced, but kept staring at Poppy and Posey as they stood transfixed, tails rigid, ready to pounce on the next bug that crawled in. “But at some point, they’re gonna need an intervention,” I said.
Even if it’s just for coriander.