Unifying factor of infestation

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George Hasara – Columnist

Our local infestation of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), while not quite of Biblical proportions, has created something of a new bug paradigm. The invasive insect from Asia is believed to have been accidentally introduced into Eastern Pennsylvania in the 1990s and has since found its way to the lampshade next to your recliner.

Unless you depend on agriculture for a living, I rate BMSB fairly low on the nuisance scale. They don’t bite, sting, or carry the plague, and if you can avoid squishing them, they won’t stink either. I prefer the catch and release method. I cup the bugger gently with my hand and throw it outside, which allows it to get some fresh air before returning to the house. It’s recycling in action.

However, the main reason I find these creepy crawlies tolerable is because everybody has them. We are all in the same bug-invested boat so I don’t feel too bad. They aren’t my bugs, they are OUR bugs. There is no stigma attached as there would be if say, a nest of scorpions had homesteaded in your laundry room. No apologies are necessary for stink bugs since there doesn’t appear to be much we can do about them short of shrink-wrapping our homes.

The positive spin on the BMSB it that it serves as an equalizer, and in a small way brings people together. It doesn’t matter what your rent or mortgage payments are, the bug doesn’t care, it’s quite happy to share the house with you regardless of your credit rating. 

If ever there was a time that we needed a little unity in this land of ours, it is now. It’s strange that people aren’t particularly drawn together by good events. Adversity seems to be the catalyst that unites. Any time there is a prediction of significant snowfall in these parts, you can feel the pulse of the community in the bread and milk aisles of the supermarket. For those who were around for the Blizzard of ’93 you know that feeling of being connected even though you couldn’t go anywhere. 

My parents’ most endearing stories were about difficult times. The Great Depression was described by my mother and father in uplifting terms in which family and community helped each other. It wasn’t so bad to be poor, because everyone was. I wonder how people today would mentally deal with another Great Depression? 

However, in the meantime, we have another migratory creature that we need to keep an eye on. Armadillos have been spotted in our area. They are prolific diggers and can be very destructive to the soil and everything that is attached to it including grass, plants, and plastic pink flamingos. Accounts of tires being punctured from armadillo roadkill are particularly worrisome. This “possum-on-the-half-shell” may in time pose a new challenge that will bring us closer together. With a little luck, it will have an appetite for the brown marmorated stink bug as well.

Contact George at georgehasara@yahoo.com.

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