Scent of a bug -- 4-2-14

(The Tri-State Area might have had some snow this past Sunday, but these tulips pushing up through the ground show that spring is undeniably on the way. To enlarge this photo, click on it.)

Before it began raining on Saturday, I went to the landfill with 90 percent of the branches that came down from the big pine on our property line. I knew a bigger rainstorm was coming Sunday and didn’t want to chance getting my pickup stuck in the mud.

I like the sound that the wind makes when it blows through the branches of this 50-foot tall tree, but when it comes to standing up to the wind and a load of ice or snow, it just isn’t very sturdy. It would be better to take out this tree and the two old blue spruce trees that are dying from the bottom up and replace them with younger trees of better varieties, but it would be a lot of work. And I’m not ready yet to invest the money (if someone else does it) or the elbow grease, (if I do it.)

And so I procrastinate, not doing anything until the birds have built their nests, giving me another excuse to put this off. Not that I need much of an excuse. People ask me if I enjoy working outside and I tell them that I enjoy how things look when the work is done.

All right, enough procrastination. This week’s column will be a quick review of the scent-lure stink bug trap now on the market.

If you watch TV, chances are you’ve seen the Rescue Indoor/Outdoor stink bug trap. It works by the use of pheromones, which are substances secreted by animals and insects that affect the behavior -- usually the mating behavior -- of other creatures of the same type. It’s a sex lure, pure and simple. Available from a variety of sellers, I found this trap at Plow & Hearth, which offers it for $19.99 and refills for $9.95. Each dose lasts two weeks.

The manufacturer says the trap can also be used indoors with a light to attract the bugs, though the literature says that outside, artificial light will reduce the effectiveness of the trap. So place it away from the garage light.

A Pittsburgh TV station, WPXI, did a test of various brands for the second time last spring, but hasn’t posted its 2014 test yet.

If your infestation is indoors, you might want to give the Strube Professional Indoor Stink Bug Trap. The winner of last year’s WPXI contest, this uses a “secret” scent and non-toxic glues. It’s $49.95, so for anything less than a real “bug apocalypse” invasion, it might be a bit pricey.

If you’d like to eliminate your stink bugs with something resembling hand-to-hand combat, you might want to try the Wyers WB100 Bug Zooka. For $24.15, you get a hand-held vacuum that allows you to nab stink bugs without actually touching them, It would also seem to be good for other types of bugs, since there is no specific scent involved. It retails for about $25.

Other types of traps involve a combination of light and sticky paper, and they’re all for indoor use. Whenever I do a column related to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, I check with StopBMSB.org.

The group describes its mission in this way: “With funding from USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative, our team of more than 50 researchers is uncovering the pest’s secrets to find management solutions for growers, seeking strategies that will protect our food, our environment, and our farms.”

No word from this group on the effectiveness of one trap over another, but if you use one and find it works particularly well, go to www.StopBMSB.org and look for “contact us” so you can e-mail the group your information.

Once a trap proves particularly effective, I’m sure we’ll have them placed around our homes as my parents did more than 50 years ago with Japanese beetle traps. I can still remember listening to the trapped beetles scraping against the inside of the metal traps as they found, too late, that they had fallen for the wrong sort of “perfume.” Let’s hope the researchers are on the scent of this generation’s worst insect pest.

Did you enjoy this column? If you have suggestions or constructive criticism, please e-mail to bobmaginnis@myactv.net.

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