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Rooster that eats stink bugs not for sale at any price

October 06, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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I have a rooster for sale. The asking price is $1,000, firm.

All right, so as roosters go he isn't much to look at. No proud, imperial, feathered headdress of a rooster, he.

He's small, with bandy legs and no comb to speak of. An Araucana (were he a hen, he'd be the type that lays blue eggs), he's all white with no tail and his attempts at crowing sound like a tractor-trailer with malfunctioning air brakes. I call him Stink.

The name should be a clue to his elevated value, since he is a chicken whose preferred source of nutrition is stink bugs. He spends his days stalking the foundations of the smokehouse and summer kitchen, his head cocked at an angle that points his eyeball about 40 degrees above the horizon.

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When he spots one of these prehistoric-looking insects, he performs, all in one graceful motion, a hop and a peck. The stink bug never stands a chance. He must consume 100 bugs or so a day, making me glad he's a rooster -- I doubt anyone would eat any eggs from such a bird.

Those, like me, who were hoping the stink bug invasion of 2008 was a one-year anomaly have been sorely disappointed. Not only are they back, they seemed to have learned from last year's mistakes. This year, they seem much harder to kill.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a shaky plea for help from Beth, who said we had a "big problem in the bathroom." I leapt into action, fearing an inundation of about 6 inches of water on the floor.

Imagine my relief when the problem only turned out to be several thousand stink bugs covering every bathroom surface.

Beth, curiously, did not share in my happiness.

She -- otherwise the kindest, gentlest person on the planet -- goes after the creatures with a vengeance. At first, she carried a gasoline-filled jar with her everywhere. When she would hold the jar underneath a bug, the fumes would make it dizzy and it would fall in, at which point Beth slammed the lid shut with a force generally associated with colliding asteroids.

In stink bug season, my nerves are always hanging on by a thread, because even nondescript conversations are punctuated by the violent concussions of a stink bug meeting its maker.

"I could take some hamburger out SLAM of the freezer tonight if you want SLAM Chili, or we could SLAM have that leftover tuna SLAM steak..."

She brought a somewhat startling droid behavior to the project: "Must kill stink bugs. Must kill stink bugs." Even the dogs seemed a bit unnerved to see mommy flying down the hall with a jug of gasoline and all the compassion of a medical waste incinerator.

Perhaps it does not need to be mentioned, but the smell of sting bugs rotting in gasoline is not pleasant. After objections from myself and her colleague Cindy, Beth switched to rubbing alcohol. So from an environmental standpoint, I congratulate her for going green when it comes to stinkbug eradication.

It was no small concession on her part. Last year, several readers suggested a spray of water and soap was effective against stink bugs, but Beth didn't buy in on the grounds that death by soap bubbles was "too good" for them.

When the jar is full, a pyre will be prepared in the fire pit and, with all the trappings of an ancient cult, we will have the Burning of the Stink Bugs and listen to their little corpses pop.

Beth seems surprised when I don't want to watch. So, even though my sense of smell isn't that good and they don't bother me too much, we both want the bugs gone, even if for different reasons.

As such, I've decided that Stink isn't for sale at any price.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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