It’s late and I’m sitting in my easy chair, comfy cozy with my comforter pulled up from my toes to my chest, protecting me from a cold winter’s night. My half glasses resting on the bridge of my nose, making me look like old man Silas Marner, I’m squinting into my laptop, happy as a clam in my not-so-humble abode, happy to be working on a project I love doing. Yes, life is good, life is perfect, safe and secure.
Suddenly, I hear a warning buzz, then ominous silence. Then, the sound of a skillful landing nearby, unseen. I look around with trepidation. Is it on the lampshade? The end table? The side of my chair? Oh my God, could it be on ME? I see nothing. Silence.
Maybe that nasty little creature with the primitive shield on its back slithered into some crack in the space between the flooring and the wall. Or better yet, maybe I was just imagining the whizzing sound and landing? Still nothing.
Then there’s an itch on my calf. I reach down to scratch it, but the itch seems to have moved to my lower thigh. Oh my God, it’s crawling up my leg! I scream, more piercing than a little girl on a roller coaster. I jump up and pull down my pants, sliding across the floor in my stocking feet, trying to inspect my legs, front, back and side.
My wife runs in, startled at the sight of me, hardly the image of Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.”
What AM I doing? she asked.
I look at her incredulously. I don’t need to speak. It’s the drama, the fear, the dread of that pestilence that most of us find within the inner sanctum of our homes this winter: the invasion of the stink bug.
We do so much to secure our homes from an intruder or the elements, yet there’s always something, usually small and seemingly harmless, yet disgusting, that can sneak in and scare the hell out of us. Do any of us really like to see a spider with a big ugly sack lurking around in our bathrooms. Or how about that tiny little field mouse scurrying across the kitchen floor from under the kitchen range.
And when we’re in the attic late at night looking for that file and we hear something that sounds like the flapping of a bat’s wings, aren’t we certain we’ll be grabbed by our hair and never let go? Heck, in the dead of summer, it can be as tiny as a mosquito that lights on our arm and suddenly the biggest bruiser of a guy is defenseless against a creature so small that you can’t even see it.
But the invader of the moment, the pestilence that everybody is talking about but few seem to be able to do anything about, is the stink bug.
“You just have to wait until spring,” my wife advised. “Then they just go away. They just need to be warm in the winter.”
Great, I think to myself. So that’s why I’m paying $700 a month in heating bills, so I can keep the disgusting critters warm and scream when they crawl up my leg.
“Don’t worry,” she said while comforting me, “I hear that they hatch just once every 17 years.”
“Where did you hear that?” I asked. My research yields nothing.
“Oh, just something I heard someplace,” she responded in her usual scientific way.
“Isn’t that some other insect you’re talking about, maybe the locusts? Or wasn’t it the birds in that Alfred Hitchcock film?” I asked.
For now, I learned that there are only two remedies. You can simply seal every crack and crevice in your home to keep them from getting in. But, considering that I live in a 275-year-old home, I would have to cover my entire house in an air-tight tarp like the kind they used in “Breaking Bad” when they were cooking crystal meth inside.
The other alternative is to use a small trap I’ve seen online with an electric light inside. It seems that the little stinkers are attracted to light. But why would they go to a tiny electric light in a small box when they have every big light bulb in my house around which they party every night?
If I took the time, I suppose I could call my pest control service, but to date my method to get rid of my stinky visitors, which gives me tremendous, almost sadistic satisfaction, is to take them on one by one, mano a mano, with a tissue and squash them flat.
Oh, but when you do that, I should mention that stink bugs tend to stink.
Bill Primavera is a Residential and Commercial Realtor® associated with Coldwell Banker, as well as a publicist and journalist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. For questions about home maintenance or to engage him to help you buy or sell a home, he can be emailed at Bill@TheHomeGuru.com or called directly at 914-522-2076.