Stink bug

Sometimes seen by the dozens around homes nowadays, brown marmorated stink bugs are exotics not found in the U.S. until just over 20 years ago.

Among other things, the crisp days of fall bring stink bug season again.

The time of autumn has come when you may be noticing a proliferation of stink bugs, an event that historically didn’t happen. That is because the insects in question did not exist here in olden times. And olden times in this case only go back a bit over 20 years.

Of course, we have always had stink bugs here. Brown stink bugs and dusky stink bugs are native species. What are appearing nowadays in sometimes surprisingly plentiful numbers are brown marmorated stink bugs that hail from China.

These exotic insects apparently were accidentally imported as either eggs or adult bugs in the late 1990s. However they got here, they made themselves right at home. Entomology experts say the invaders are now spread across almost all the United States. That is a rather fast alien occupation.

The brown marmorated stinker closely resembles our native species. The Asian bug is about one-half-inch long, has that standard shield-like stink bug body shape and is colored with multiple shades of brown in a mottled pattern. (“Marmorated” means streaked like marble.) It is a six-legged flying bug, but at rest or as a pedestrian its folded wings are hidden.

Keys to identification of the exotic are details: It has rounded “shoulders” on its abdomen (not pointy, like natives) and its legs and antennae have white bands on them.

Marmorateds, like other stink bugs, are not a direct threat to us. They do not bite or sting, nor are they known to peddle any sort of disease. Like all stink bugs, the Asian model has a defense feature that earns its name. When stressed, it exudes a fluid from glands in its thorax that smell bad. It is designed by nature to discourage predators. The stuff does not harm us, but it is a little stinky in the olfactory class of dirty socks and rotten sneakers.

That would not be a bad deal unless you rounded up a bunch of them, treating them unkindly, and provoke several to squirt out some of their stink juice. If you were to do this indoors, you might regret scenting your furniture or curtains or whatever got stink bug sauce on it.

Presently, it is possible to accumulate enough marmorated stink bugs to produce a collective foul scent. This time of autumn here apparently is when these exotics gather in numbers where they seek cracks and crevices in habitat like your home in which to escape the cold of the coming winter.

We do not see native stink bugs appear in significant numbers in the move to find overwintering shelter. The exotic species, however, might commonly appear by the dozens, and larger concentrations may be possible as the Chinese stinkers continue to find their balance here in the relative new ecosystem.

Other that encountering several of them and an occasional unpleasant smell provoked from an unhappy stink bug, we have minimal reason for concern regarding the marmorated. It may be a different story agriculturally.

Science is showing that the imported species is proving to be quite damaging to some fruit crops in orchards, while they can take a toll on the yield of some vegetable farming, including tomato crops.

Meanwhile, if brown marmorated stink bugs show up indoors at your place, try vacuuming them up instead of swatting them. It might make your vacuum a little smelly, but that keeps the objectionable juice off other surfaces.

• The onset of October on Thursday brought in Kentucky’s hunting season for raccoons and opossums atop other ongoing pursuits.

Trapping of ’coons and ’possums will not open until the beginning of the state’s general furbearer hunting and trapping season, Nov. 16. ’Coon and ’possum hunting, however, precedes trapping options, then overlaps with most other furbearer pursuits through Feb. 28.

Oct. 1 also brought the start of the early crossbow season for turkey. It runs through Oct. 18 and partially overlaps the crossbow season for deer, which opened Sept. 19. Crossbows also can be used to take turkey during the early fall shotgun turkey seasons, Oct. 24-30.

With archery and crossbow deer hunting continuing, the next bigger buzz for whitetails will be the youth firearms deer season that comes the second weekend of October, Oct. 10-11. The autumn weekend youth hunt represents the first firearms deer hunting of the 2020-21 hunting year.

• The Fairgrounds Pond in Fort Massac State Park at Metropolis will open to trout fishing on Oct. 17 as part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ fall trout fishing program in more than 50 pounds, lakes and streams throughout that state.

The stocking of rainbow trout for harvest in the fall season has begun, but no trout may be taken from the program waters before 5 a.m. of opening day. IDNR spokesmen say any anglers taking trout before the legal season opening will be issued citations.

A few trout program sites open Saturday for catch-and-release fishing, but the downstate Illinois sites at Fort Massac and Ferne Cliffe State Park Lake in Johnson County do not offer the early catch-and-release period.

To take part in the fall trout fishing, anglers must have a valid fishing license and Inland Trout Stamp unless under age 16, blind or disabled or are an Illinois resident on leave from military duty.

Once the season begins, the daily creel limit on trout is five fish. There is no size limit.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.

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