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October 1, 2010

The rise of the brown marmorated stink bug


Seems like every time I open a newspaper, whether it be the New York Times or the Washington Post, there's yet another story about the invasion of stink bugs (above and below).

Don't be scared by the pictures: they're approximately 5/8 of an inch long and they don't bite.

My house is awash with Halyomorpha halys, in every room and window, on ceilings, walls and floor, in door frames and buried in my clothes, closets, it's all stink bug all the time at bookofjoe World Headquarters®.

A Washington Post live chat participant this past Tuesday, in an exchange published in this past Wednesday's Washington Post Q&A with University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp, noted that "I had this nutty idea that if I smashed a bunch of them with a trowel, their own stink would alert other stink bugs to a danger and scare them away. It seemed to work. When I went out about an hour later, there were none."

Replied Raupp, "You might have something here. We noticed the same thing in the field the other day while collecting them. Once they released their stinky odor, other stink bugs scattered."

Maybe tomorrow I'll try out this technique.

The problem is, the odor of a mass of crushed stink bugs might not be worth the cure.

Here's the Q&A.


Smelly insects, sadly, are here to stay

Stink bugs are moving from orchards, cornfields and gardens to suburban homes, office buildings and hotels — and experts say the invasion might only get worse.

Q. I remember stink bugs around here when I was growing up in the 1960s. The current "invasion" is a new species, but what are the differences? And the predators of the domestic species won't go after the new ones? Why?

A. These stinkers are pretty much fresh off the boat from Asia. Unfortunately, they left their natural enemies behind. Most of the predators and parasites in the United States seem unable to keep up with their ability to increase, although I have seen praying mantises, assassin bugs and spiders killing them. The Agriculture Department is searching for biological control agents that can help in the battle. We will keep working and also keep our fingers crossed.

Q. What is the best DIY way to eliminate them once they have invaded your home? I know how to seal cracks, but how to you eliminate the ones that made it in? Please discuss the normal life span of this bug and how they multiply. Is the life of a stink bug as short as the 10-day life of a fly?

A. Once inside, just vacuum them up and dispose of the bag. These rascals live a long time. Adults entering your home now will emerge in spring, move outside and lay eggs on plants. The young are called nymphs, and they will feed for several weeks during the summer before molting into adults. In New Jersey, there was a single generation each year, but in parts of China there might be five generations. We suspect that there were two generations in parts of Maryland this year.

Q. Here in Potomac, the stink bugs have been prolific, both outside and in. In the past several days, the ones outside have almost vanished. Weather has been a lot cooler. Any relationship here, or are they all inside by now?

A. Great observation. They are now moving out of crops into wintering refuges. A little more rearranging is expected over the next two or three weeks, and then things should settle down . . . until late winter and early spring, when they try to escape from your house.

Q. There were about 40 stink bugs on my outer porch wall. I had this nutty idea that if I smashed a bunch of them with a trowel, their own stink would alert other stink bugs to a danger and scare them away. It seemed to work. When I went out about an hour later, there were none. Science or coincidence?

A. You might have something here. We noticed the same thing in the field the other day while collecting them. Once they released their stinky odor, other stink bugs scattered.

Q. Are they going to be coming back again next year? Or is this a one-time thing?

A. Yes, they are here to stay.


Q. What is the meaning of "marmorated?"


A. Oh.

I figured you wouldn't be satisfied with that, so I had my crack research team drill down; they found this:


Feel better?

I know I do.


Breaking news, published today at 4:13 p.m.: Professor Raupp earlier this week wrote, "On a recent foray to study stink bugs in a nursery, I encountered record numbers of one of Mother Nature's most awesome six-legged predators, the wheel bug, Arilus cristatus."

More: "As I wandered through the stink bug-laden nursery, almost every infested sycamore tree had several wheel bugs in attendance. While I watched, wheel bugs stealthily stalked and assassinated their stinky marmorated cousins, bug vs. bug."

The caption for a video on his site: "The voracious wheel bug drains the life from the stink bug in a matter of minutes."

October 1, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Sparkless Sledgehammer


Wrote Aaron Rowe in the October 2010 issue of Wired magazine, "When you’re hacking the door off a building that has a gas leak, a stray spark can really ruin your day. First responders use tools [like this one] made from a copper alloy that won’t start a conflagration no matter how hard they are swung."

33" long; head weight 15 lbs.



October 1, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What do Jimmy Choo and Steven Leckart have in common?


I would've said "nothing" until this morning, when I saw that their paths had crossed online (above).

Why AdSense selected Jimmy Choo's shoes to run next to Leckart wearing a Power Ranger suit while test-driving an expensive electric bicycle must remain a mystery to me and everyone other than Google's bot-in-a-box, which created the juxtaposition.

Still, Leckart is a classy guy so perhaps this is just Google's way of saying it's time the great world got wind of it.








October 1, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What are they?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Clue: neoprene.

Another: not intended for aquatic use.

October 1, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Reading William Gibson


I've been at his latest book, "Zero History, for about a week now, and a phenomenon that previously was present but unvoiced finally broke into my consciousness today.

Namely, that I read Gibson more slowly — far more slowly — than any other authors of fiction.

In fact, sometimes, rolling the words and sentences around, it seems to me I read more slowly than Gibson writes.

But that can't be literally true, since he takes about three to four years to produce a novel, and at the rate I'm going (about ten pages a night, in bed) I'll be done in about another seven weeks.

That's compared to four to five days for most bedtime books, with an occasional two-to-three week outlier.

Part of the reason I think Gibson reads so slowly — for me — is that he may be employing parts of his brain as he writes that are linked, in some archetypal, pre-conscious limbic way, to parts of the human cerebral cortex that antedate language.

There may thus be some sort of pull back in time toward a pre-literate history — dare I say to a mirror image of the Omega Point and conflate this with zero history?

Probably not — but then, I just did, didn't I?

October 1, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Enameled Steel Cube

I've been looking for something like this cube for years, ever since I created my treadmill workspace. 

As it is, I use an old subwoofer and four unopened 500-sheet packages of Epson inket paper to support my iMac in as inconspicuous, unobtrusive and neat way as possible.

Trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds.

But I digress.

I need precisely 28" of elevation atop the bookcase that forms the base of my tower of Babel — as it were.

Guess what? These cubes measure 14" on each side.

Bonus: on sale for $36.75, reduced from $49.

The website notes they're "ideal for storing LP record albums."

I ordered two (cubes, not albums; I gave my albums away a long time ago — in another century entirely).

But I digress yet again.

You snooze, you lose.

I predict these will be going, Going, GONE in a week.

Fair warning.


Note added at 12:11 p.m. today, 70 minutes after this post went up: the product website says "Backordered. Will ship when available."

I guess you can go back to sleep.

October 1, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Steven Leckart takes a $9,000 electric bike out for a spin

He's the guy with the beard who at the end asks, "Why are we dressed up like Power Rangers?"

Best question of the day so far — but it's still early.

October 1, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Acorn Speaker/FM Radio for iPod




Handmade in South Korea.


Radio has channel auto-scan mode.


Built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery.


Includes USB connector


for charging and standard jack


to connect to audio





[via Cliff Hatch]

October 1, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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