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Will decision to destroy stink bugs with wasps sting us in the end?

March 02, 2011|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com
  • Rowland
Rowland

A wasp? That's all you got? A tiny, all but microscopic insect is supposed to save us from the Great Stinkbug Invasion of '11?

We're doomed.

All I hear from the bug experts is how if you thought the stinkbugs were bad last year, just you wait, because this year they will assault us in "biblical proportions."

I realize that I might seriously regret saying this, but it is hard for me to see how they could get worse. At our house last fall we had to be careful to differentiate between cosmetic stinkbugs and load-bearing stinkbugs that, if you killed too many of them, would cause a bedroom to collapse.

The bright spot, at least to a small, petty person such as myself, is that just about everyone in Maryland will have the pleasure of making their acquaintance this year. I got real tired of all the smugsters last fall who would wrinkle their noses and say that "WE, never have a problem with that sort of — pest." Yeah, well fire up your backpack sprayer Miss Manners, 'cause you're about to get an education.

And let's get one more thing straight — I am sick and tired of reading the boilerplate sentence in every press account of how stinkbugs "do not pose a threat to humans."

Not a threat? They eat our FOOD for heaven's sake. They clog our ventwork and render our clothing unwearable. If you don't think stinkbugs are a threat, you must think rattlesnakes are Florence Nightingale.

Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes, the silver lining. The (Baltimore) Sun reports that our salvation might lie with a wasp that the paper describes as being the size of "the comma in this sentence." However, I notice that that sentence did not have a comma, so best I can tell you is to go with half a quote mark.

According to the Sun, "Maryland's newest terrorist life form — the brown marmorated stink bug — may eventually meet its archnemesis in the form of a tiny prizefighter of a wasp from Asia. The parasitic wasps that are being raised in quarantine in a Delaware laboratory are not glamorous-looking bugs. But they are uncommonly efficient at hunting down and injecting their offspring into stink bug egg masses."

Anyone else not like the sound of this?

First off, has anyone in Delaware taken time to smell the wasp? I want to make sure it's not worse. And this whole "injecting offspring" thing. We know for a fact they'll stop at stinkbugs?

The press account goes on to say, "the larvae consume the stink bugs from the inside out. When the wasps grow into adults, they chew their way out, procreate — and go on the hunt for more stink bug eggs."

Whatever you do, don't tell Jerry Jones or that's going to be next year's Super Bowl half-time show.

I get this eerie feeling that we've been down this road before. One alien species bothers us, so we bring in another alien species to hunt it down and kill it. Then the second alien species starts eating our young, so we have to bring in a third alien species, which does the job, but then starts demanding premium channels as part of its basic cable package.

Strangely enough, my dad used to play around with these things. He thought parasitic wasps could take the place of chemical pesticides. It was a nice thought, but our apples always looked as if they'd spent six months in a nuclear reactor. Or, come to think of it, as if something had injected their offspring in them.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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