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Fighting a summer war in retirement land

October 20th, 2013 12:00 am by Dan Kyte

Fighting a summer war in retirement land

I’ve returned to my favorite rocking chair on the back porch. In the evening, the fall seasonal cricket and tree frog sounds lull me to remembrances of my grandparents’ old home place and its porches. The major difference is that mine is screened-in where theirs was open to bugs, gnats and mosquitoes.
Unfortunately, this year my favorite haven has not been protected from Halyomorpha halys or the brown marmorated stink bug. Although similar to some native species, this brown stink bug rode into the U.S. from either Japan or Korea. The first documented sightings of this invader were in Pennsylvania in 1998.
It is now considered a pest to our whole agriculture industry as it sucks the juice out of fruit and tomatoes, leaving them unsightly and unsellable. But as for me, they cover my screened porch, crawling up the walls and across the ceiling. If you disturb them they will give you a shot of chemical warfare and make your porch-sitting unbearable.
I did some research on the Web to find out how to rid myself of these Asian annoyances. I found this lady on YouTube who guaranteed success by mixing warm water and dish detergent in a spray bottle. She was all smiles as she proclaimed that by following her advice, my troubles would be over. I could reverse Pearl Harbor 2013 with a little Dawn and warm H2O. I couldn’t wait to try her formula on my little friends. I went to the kitchen to brew my magic liquid, hardly waiting until I had the warm mix in the bottle.
Having spray in hand, I ventured out on the porch, being careful not to allow the overflow of bugs into the house. I picked a place on the screen that was particularly crowded with clusters of stinks and let loose with a blast of YouTube’s answer to my problem. I coated them with the soapy mix and happily watched as they reacted by trying to lick the stuff off their legs. I left them to their demise and went to read the paper in my recliner.
About 15 minutes later I heard a knock at my back porch door. I arose from my recliner to find a contingent of Halyomorpha halys standing on my rocker asking for a towel. Apparently they considered it very thoughtful of me to give them a free shower and shampoo. Now they wanted to dry off and resume their carefree lives. These guys are tougher than I thought.
By now they had taken over the porch with several of them sitting in and on my rocker. The very idea. Even my favorite dog knew better than to get on my rocker. This called for all-out war against these brown demons.
An occasional fly or woolly worm moving into my space is tolerated this time of the year, but these guys are way too pushy. They are not just passing through but intend to stay till next summer. And they are uninvited.
When my grandmother was living, she kept a hoe, a shotgun and a fly swat to greet such interlopers. Be it a wasp, a snake or a green fly, she made short work of them. But these guys have come with all their cousins and distant relatives, way too many to swat or shoot. This calls for a weapon of mass destruction.
I first thought to call my friend, Roy Foster, who has been known to buck dance with custom steel-toed shoes. He could cause some real damage. I just couldn’t figure out how to get him up in the ceiling to get those stink bugs trying to escape the planned massacre.
Then there was the option of government drones. We have had so much success with them against al-Qaida that I thought maybe the military could help. Unfortunately with the government shutdown, nothing was working and no help was to be had.
Since it was the fourth Saturday of the month, I decided to make the monthly meeting of the Possum Brotherhood at the Telford Diner. My fellow Possumers would have the answer.
During our business meeting, under the heading of new business, I came forth with my dilemma. The old “warm water and dish soap” remedy came up but was quickly voted down. Vinegar and lemon juice was suggested but we found out later that the Brother who made that recommendation was selling vinegar and lemon juice on the side. Finally, our elderly statesman, Brother Freddie Chase, brought forth the simplest idea yet.
I went home and implemented Brother Chase’s proposition with haste. I rolled out the old faithful Sears Shop-Vac and began to suck up the enemy. They fell like flies before my grandmother’s swatter. They ran, they flew, they crawled but they could not get away from the master of all suction. I gathered them from the corners, from the ceiling and from the cracks in the floor. They died by the thousands.
I’m back in my rocker now, listening to the crickets and the tree frogs. Sitting beside my rocker is my trusty vacuum hose. My finger is on the trigger, ready to flip the switch. All is well once again in retirement land.

Dan Kyte of Jonesborough is a  retired clinical social worker and health care administrator.

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