Hell is empty and all the devils are here!

There is a plague on my house.

Or more aptly, there is a plague IN my house.

Even more aptly, there is a plague in BOTH my houses. (The hound has a tiny cottage just outside the dog door.)

It’s evil. It’s widespread. It’s pandemic.

Actually, it is a they.


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These six-legged beasts have made themselves at home—without invitation, without cessation, and without a return trip ticket from whence they came.

A few years ago, the abominable scourge was the ladybug—or ladybird beetle. I can’t believe people complained about our overabundance of ladybugs. Growing up, you were lucky if a ladybug landed on you—it was a chance to make a wish, or count its spots to see if a good harvest was coming your way. And as is well known—a good harvest could make or break the day of a seven-year old.

California citrus growers released thousands of the beetles—purchased from our good friends Down Under—and kept their fingers crossed that the clumsy, crimson cutie pies would gorge their tiny bellies on as many aphids as they could muster. They were champions. Our desperate need to send grapefruit for the holidays was saved.

But eventually people complained. (Bet you didn’t see that coming, right?)

Rumor had it that the next idea was to release some parasitic wasp that would in essence sneak up on the ladybugs, inject them with venom, rendering them paralytic and zombie-like, and then lay eggs inside them. Our tiny beetles shortly found wasp eggs hatching and chewing their way out of their own belly.

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Yeah, love that fix. Let’s launch a battalion of those wasps to teach our ladybugs a lesson.

The lovely ladybugs are no longer an issue in our abode, but have now been replaced with these malodorous, marmorated, major pain in my backside bugs.

Stinkbugs, so true to their name, are now making a yearly pilgrimage to my neck of the woods to worship something found in all the creases of my curtains, along the crown moldings of my ceilings and embedded deep within my light fixtures. When not paying homage to their transcendental deity, they rejuvenate their shield-shaped bodies by guzzling any sweet, liquid libation they can locate. Gone are my plump figs, my peppers and thick, leafy greens. I am a mecca that provides a free for all service of food, lodging and late night vespers to these party animals. A one stop church and chow, a synagogue and sip, a temple and tipple—I could go on …

I suppose I would have a lot more energy to create a battle plan to reclaim my house and crops if only I were allowed a proper night’s sleep. I have challenged cognitive skills at the best of times, but when paired with a chronic sleep disorder—thrust upon me by the late night riot of cocktails and carousing that these bugs launch into once I’ve donned my nightcap—I am left droopy-eyed, sluggish, and just barely tuned in to the fact that one of them is crawling along the back of my neck as I’m trying to work at my desk. I’m guessing he’s attempting to peek over my shoulders to report back to the others of my annihilation strategy.

They fly, stumbling along in the air, drunk on fig juice and nectar of collard greens. Their buzz is analogous to that of a small child’s radio controlled flyer, and just like the barely airworthy kidcraft, the bugs are likely to fall out of the sky at a moment’s notice. I’m not sure if they suddenly tire of the effort their wings ask of them, or if they have a very low work ethic, or even if their tiny brains stopped focusing on the task at hand and gave up coordinating calculations for lift, thrust, drag and weight, but they plummet and hit the earth—or the person standing between them and the earth–with a crisp thwack. They then are stuck on their backs, stranded by their hefty bulwark, many unable to flip themselves over because Mother Nature did not take into account the overwhelming dullness of mind these creatures possess.

A good number perish this way. No funerals are held. I am both elated and repelled at the sheer number of dead stinkbugs lining the windowsills, scattered across the countertops, or that crunch underfoot when I’m lulled out of bed with the need to use the facilities. I’ve decided to wear combat boots to sleep so that I’m totally prepared should the need arise. Plus, battle waits for no man.

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They fall into my cup of tea, dive bomb into my pot of soup, squiggle their way into the folds of my face towel and I am fed up. I’ve lost sleep, my appetite and my appreciation for cilantro—for this is what they smell like when squished.

The only answer is suction.

I stalk these foul creatures like I would conduct a witch hunt—that is if I was an uneducated, fearful Protestant—which I am not. But for the sake of good plot, I pretend to be close. At least for this scenario. It is method acting.

It is me and my central vac hose. We suck them up one by one. Gleefully. Triumphantly. Like a woman possessed. Or getting rid of the possessed.

I fly about the room, cackling maniacally. The witch and her wand.

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I cast these evil creatures into the abyss with a parting quote: We are time’s subjects, and time bids BE GONE!!


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.

35 thoughts on “Hell is empty and all the devils are here!

  1. Our current plague is some sort of crawly legged worm (I know that doesn’t sound right, but that’s what it looks like). A worm with legs. Like maybe a 20-pede. Not enough legs for a centipede; no antennae. a 20-pede…..I like that. What I don’t like are stink bugs, ewwww! Good luck w/ that.

    • I like 20-pede too. I think you’ve discovered and named a new species. It could be that he was destined to be a centipede, but gave up on the effort of growing the remaining 80 legs. Seems we’ve got a plethora of lazy bugs on our hands. Thank goodness he doesn’t have wings, eh?
      Thanks again for reading!

  2. Nothing I hate more than bugs of any kind. WOW! you are courageous dealing with them. Yes the best way to deal with them is the way you do, vac hose. Good luck with the overwhelming problem. Great post as usual, I love the way you describe everything with a very good touch of humor. Love the pictures. Take care and God bless.

  3. Thank you, Samina. You’re always so sweet to say such lovely things. And even though I was laughing psychotically as I was sucking each one up with the hose, I don’t think the stinkbugs were enjoying my humor AT ALL.
    Ah well, can’t please ’em all, right?

  4. G’morn’n Ms. Shelley,

    I feel for your problem with the Halyomorpha halys. We have one similar here on the peninsula however it is green and cannot seem to survive the winter depths of temperature. Not sure if they are related, however they look identical, only green. My children (uggh) love to BRING them into the house to “observe” them in a bug cage for a few days and them let them go… when they are near limp and unfed, unintentionally, I believe.

    The odor from the stink bug is due to trans-2-decenal and trans-2-Octenal; (i.e the smell of cilantro). I know you love cilantro… why not just gather them, grind them down to a paste and add them to your plethora of soup, chili or stew recipes? Your tower of Mordor at it’s peek (which is one of the 8th wonders of the world to wake to and view God’s sun rise over your neighboring peeks) seems to be Stink Bug Central.

    Tolkien was reported to have identified Mordor with the volcano of Stromboli off Sicily. Hence, why you should be grateful for the fact that they offer you the pleasant sent of cilantro.

    Use what you have my love. Make Stromboli and drink a decent red Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, or Montefalco Rossoto to help choke down the shells. All will be better.

    Stoshu 🙂

    • Yuck. I’ve eaten more than my fair share – accidentally. I can’t imagine deciding to make it a purposeful plan. Did you read the link down at the bottom? Folks really are cooking with them. I’m so going to pass.
      In fact, I’m so repelled at the moment, I need to go wash my mouth out with chocolate.
      Then I’ll start on your wine suggestions.

    • What can be so tasty about eating cloth?? I’ve never gotten that. Yes, I can understand how insects would mutilate my crops over the summer, but my best linen dress? So not fair. And I refuse to walk around smelling like a giant moth ball.
      There is no winning, Abby. We are doomed to be skinny and naked.

  5. Funny. I feel for you though. I had to clean innumerable June Bugs out of the pool I worked at over the summer. Those stupid things would start to cross the chain link fence, and then they’d get tired, or something. It drove me nuts.

  6. Ha! I remember June bugs. Those are monster bugs who don’t mess around. As a kid, if you got knocked in the head by one of those things it could render you unconscious. I feel for you, too, Susannah. Next summer, go work at Ben & Jerry’s. It still may drive you nuts, but at least it’ll be the edible kind.

  7. I’m a big fan of beneficial bugs and spiders, but I can’t stand stink bugs. I think they have a plan to take over the world. (Doesn’t it seem like too much of a coincidence that their bodies are shaped like shields?) In some parts of the world (I can’t remember where–we’ve already discussed my horrible memory), they’re actually considered a delicacy, and people love to eat them.

    • You’re so right! I never put it all together, but yes, the shield-shaped body, the flying drone-like sound, the army of numbers. They are here to conquer.
      And yes, there’s a link at the bottom of the essay with a recipe. So yuck. Can’t do it.

      • Oh, I see it now! Stink bug salsa, yum! I know when we had the 17-year cicada invasion this past spring, people were cooking and eating them. I wouldn’t try those, either.

  8. VEry funny stuff. Our “plague” is usually Crickets.. doors closed, windows shut.. and somehow… you will be sitting there and ‘Jiminy the Cricket’ comes hopping into the room. So I watch the spouse get on his hands and knees to capture the critter and let it back outside. Funny to watch..if you let one escape indoors, you can hear their chirping all night long.
    Other plague..is usually black widow spiders.

    But your stink bugs are P. EWWWWWW
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Love yours!

    • Okay, you have it worse. I can live with a sleepless night or two of an indoor cricket, but knowing that at any moment I might come upon a black widow? Yikes. Finding one of those around here is a little like finding a twenty dollar bill in your jeans. It happens, but when it does, you pretty much tell everyone about it for the rest of the day.
      Keep safe, Karen! Cheers

  9. I think you should get a bet bird that likes stinkbugs. You could save a few in a jar and go around the pet store offering the birds stinkbugs. One of them takes it, boom there’s your bird. Then you just have to deal with bird guano, which after all is the best fertilizer, and seeds every where. Shoot, I think I need some chocolate and wine.

    • Thanks for such lovely compliments. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read. I’m so looking forward to the day when I am no longer under attack and all these creatures are no longer under a foot. Cheers!

    • Hands down, you had it worse, Barry. I’ll take wretched stinkbugs over bed bugs any day. I’d rather get repeatedly pelted in the head by their directionless flight and have to stomach the horrific smell than fear being eaten one microscopic bite at a time during the night. I bow down to you in deference.

  10. Great title, first off. I sat on a stinkbug on the toilet seat one night and the stink was prolific in that little room for a long time. I hadn’t thought of it because I was busy shaking the toilet paper roll in the dark–their usual spot. I don’t have central vac so each time I employed suction, the vacuum blasted the room, no, the house, with stink bug effluvia……my god it is Cilantro, you’re right. Damn!

    • Wish I could take credit for the title. It belongs to the bard. But fitting, indeed!
      And how awful to sit on one of those god-awful creatures. You poor thing.
      Lastly, yes, their perfume (love your choice of word ‘effluvia’) has a presence that lasts longer than some of my most expensive colognes. Go figure.
      Glad the season is nearly thru!

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