stink bug standing on a leaf

Dear Stink Bugs: Let’s Negotiate.

Here’s my best offer.

First, you guys agree to stop skulking around my home’s exterior. No more creeping through its cracks and crevices. If you pledge to keep your reek out of my house, I’ll promise not to use the squish defense should an occasional brown marmorated miscreant “accidentally” find its way inside. Exercising care and caution, I’ll escort the wayward invader back outside.

Oh. I see. Your position is that a no-squish policy would provide me as much protection as it does you. That crushing a Halyomorpha halys unleashes a horrible odor. A smell that not only assaults my olfactory sense but also signals nearby bugs to come inside. You’re saying I’m not offering much in this negotiation.

I disagree. But in the spirit of reaching a win-win outcome, I’ll find a way to up the ante.

How about this: I also agree to acknowledge the beauty I see in your stink bug selves. I promise to share an image showcasing the artful shield you wear on your back. Humans will see you in a whole new light. They’ll admire the jazzy, striped festoons framing the intricate geometry that graces your folded wings.

A stink bug standing on a leaf.
Beauty on a stink bug’s back

So, stink bugs. Do we have a deal?

Sigh… No. I cannot agree to advocate for a universal cease-squish agreement. What about the damage you do to plants, particularly agricultural products? If you cannot keep your numbers in check—or restrict your diet to invasive weeds—you will remain—and justifiably so—at risk in the field.

Uhh… stink bugs? Are you still listening?

I know you’re in here somewhere…

References and a Related Kids’ Book

The brown marmorated stink bug doesn’t just invade homes in the fall, looking for warm spots to winter over. It’s also an invasive species that does serious crop damage. Here’s a good introduction from Penn State University’s extension service.

You’ll learn even more details in this article from the USDA’s National Invasive Species Information Center.

For a related kids’ book, I recommend The Bug Girl (A True Story) by Sophia Spencer and Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoët (that’s the pen name of a French husband-and-wife illustrator team). It’s about a girl who loves bugs… probably even stink bugs.

Here’s my review:
Sophia’s story is about being a bug lover for as long as she can remember… and being made fun of for her ‘weird’ insect interests. Eventually, Sophia can’t stand the bullying and takes a break from bugs. Then her mom finds a sympathetic entomologist. Soon Sophia receives postcards and letters from scientists, especially women, everywhere. Their message, that it’s ok to love bugs, reignites Sophia’s passion for insects. She even helps write an article about how entomologists can get young people excited about science. The story is a fun read with engaging illustrations. But here’s the best part: It really is a true story, as the title says, about real-life, 7-year-old Sophia Spencer (with help from author Margaret McNamara). I highly recommend this book as a fun read and for its inspirational message about staying true to yourself.

Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

6 thoughts on “Dear Stink Bugs: Let’s Negotiate.”

  1. I love the voice in this post. Great idea–negotiating with a stink bug. Sorry to hear that your jazzy-looking guy wasn’t much into negotiating though! The recommended book sounds so cool!

    1. Thank you, Carol. This was fun to write, almost like writing kidlit. The book I recommended truly is terrific.

  2. Love this but I don’t think we can call this a successful negotiation but such a clever way of educating us about these creatures!

  3. Only you could write a post to open my eyes to the beauty of stink bugs! What a way you have with words––”Jazzy striped festoons framing the intricate geometry” but that’s an apt description of the photograph you posted. Beautiful, Carol!

    1. Aww, Julia. You’re making me blush! I’m not fond of the sneaky little stinkers, but as with any creature, I can find something to admire.

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