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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug ERADICATION TEST in CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND, Bee Colony Loss in The United States, and The Assasin Bug in Virginia (which can transmit Chagas Disease)

This is a work in progress, so somethings could appear out of order or jump around a bit...if you have a suggestion, please make it, so we can design a more complete picture together...thanks.

Over run with stink bugs...the newest kind ?

UPDATE: 08-06-2012

So far this year, I have not needed my traps, and he indigenous plants and plethora of grasshoppers and praying mantises seems to keep the stink bugs away, perhaps it is just the extreme weather swings.

How is everyone else fairing this season thus far?

ADDED FEBRUARY 5, 2012:,0,4610540.story


Chances are with the map are in a state that is or are going to be real soon...and you will see a ton of them.

Losing bees too?


Other insects that previously were not in your area starting to appear as well?

There are three things I have really accidentally brought together here, however they make perfect sense the more I research.

So please, read this and tell me what you think...a lot to report here, but I ask that you keep an open mind, and I have no problem editing this into a larger data-base of research and personal reports, history, and successes, etc. , so please post something back so we can share this information.

These are all serious problems and could easily have a few underlying problems that we can eradicate and set the balance back to normal, or at least closer, through natural initiatives.

For example, bee loss is more then likely a man made issue, and I think these are all related, because that is how eco-systems work.

Take something out and you get the trickle down and trickle up effect. That is purely a scientific fact.

What we need to do is have, restore, and maintain a biological and botanical balance, otherwise we will lose our ability to grow fruits and vegetables in massive quantities and what else may happen is easy to speculate, hard to prove, but worth thinking about.

One third of most crops are lost due to insects, and here is the kicker, it does not matter if we farm organically (using no synthetic herbicides) versus if we farm using these poisons.

So my point is, why bother using them at all?

The next point is, even if we do not use these synthetic herbicides, we should also not use hybrid seeds, as these remove and manipulate the gene pool of the plants, may and often do, produce a different pollen, and this pollen could be effecting the bees as well as the herbicides.

We could be killing the bees and damaging the eco-system in more ways the one, of course.

Lastly on this point, the run off of these herbicides into the water and it's subsequent contamination is a well studied fact too.

How long do we go on farming in a way that is killing people, making farmers and bee keepers suffer, and most importantly removing the amount of diversity necessary and needed to maintain a healthy flourishing eco-system?

ADDED 01-17-2012:

There is  great new documentary, "Vanishing of the Bees, 2009, directed by George Langworthy, about bee loss (especially in the U.S.A., hybrid or designer seeds and mono cultures.

A group of bee keepers, predominately from Pennsylvania where massive bee population loss was first significant (meaning for one hive keeper the loss of A BILLION BEES),  went to France to study synthetic herbicides, specifically the systemic ones, and there effect in the past during the 1990's when France suffered a massive bee population loss.

The "natural" bees, that were kept away from mono-cultures where these systemic herbicides are used were doing fine, much as ours here in the United States are, however, the bee keepers populations appeared confused and disoriented after collecting pollen from plants treated with the herbicides. They would then go to other plants trying to do what bees do, and they would die, or die when they got back to their hive.

One thing not mentioned was if these bees could cross contaminate their own food sources or other pollen, thus passing it to bees which before were not contaminated, as well as perhaps bees not from bee keepers, but the natural bees.

Some bee keepers use synthetic liquid sugars to feed their hives, which are just another component in a system manipulated by man that is totally failing!

Again, the bees that were natural and away from these mono cultures have apparently faired just fine.

Mono-cultures combined with herbicides are a death sentence to more then just bees, because you are taking away natural selection of both the bees and the plants, however well intended, by having only one crop, and designer bees as well (as is explained in the lab mating of the Queen bees) is taking away diversity which is naturally abundant in nature, and limiting the gene pool, killing the bees immune system, and hurting everything in the entire eco-system, however, the bees are really just a telltale sign.

Perhaps, and this is a total assumption, the stink bugs could be a by product of this opening in the population loss of bees, as well as thrive in these mono-cultures, which was my assumption before I even watched this documentary.

I innately felt this because I do not see the diversity of insects as I did when I was a child, and now I see  species moving in where they once did not live.

I would like to compare bee loss maps in the USA with stink bug proliferation maps of the USA, and see if there is any overlap.

Of course there is some overlap, just how significant will be more apparent as more is studied, and perhaps the overlap where present will help determine even more factors.

This is just a pure hunch, however, is it a coincidence these are happening in close proximity, I seriously doubt it, but I will have to dig deeper to find hard facts, and again, a lot has yet to be reported, so please post a reply and your thoughts and location.

Sharing information helps a lot.



I will post those findings as I find them, so check back perhaps often as I will add to what I find here and further edit my material to share, as well as update my own tests.

I may get a beehive too, and I am allergic to them, however I would have to, of course, be extremely careful, study hard and take safeguards.

New  York cities five burroughs have made it "legal" to keep bees again in the city, this is how massive this problem has become.

So plant some idigenous plants, and let the natural spring back to life so that our animals, insects, and other wildlife can thrive as designed in nature, because when we lose one, it effects them all, and to how much is purely speculation at this point, but it goes unsaid that it is a definite fact there is a major problem, and it is not only for the bees, it trickles up and down and will effect us all.

Stink bugs did not just decide to move...there are reasons and open minds will find those reasons through research and testing and we can regain the bees foothold, and perhaps change the FDA and EPA policies about synthetic herbicides.

We are eating this crap too!  If it kills a little bee, and completely leaves them defenseless as their immune systems completly sut down, what then does it do to us?

There are many angles to that question, therefore, what it is doing to us is more then likely quite a lot.

END EDIT: 01-17-2012

Life Cycle link for source in quotes below:

"In Pennsylvania, the BMSB has only one generation a year, corresponding to the northern part of its native range. However, in southern China up to five generations occur each year, and the same pattern can be expected as the BMSB spreads south (Hoebeke and Carter 2003, Hoffmann 1931). The adults mate in the spring approximately two weeks after emerging from diapause or the resting phase. After a short period, the females begin laying egg masses. Egg masses are laid at approximately weekly intervals, and each female lays as many as 400 eggs in her lifetime. In Pennsylvania, females were observed laying eggs from June to September. Since females continue to lay new egg masses throughout the season, different nymphal stages were often observed on the same host plant.
First instar nymphs emerge four to five days after eggs are laid. Nymphs are solitary feeders, but they occasionally aggregate between overlapping leaves or leaf folds (Bernon et al. 2004). BMSB has five nymphal instars, and each stage lasts approximately one week, depending upon temperature. Laboratory studies indicate that adults are sexually mature two weeks after their final molt (Hoebeke and Carter 2003). Adults are very active and drop from plants or fly when disturbed. Again, the best field characteristic for adults is the white band on the antennae."

They hide in rain, come in when its cold, slow down when they are cold and look dead, and then...move again...quite an interesting little bug/insect.

I am going to buy a few solar lights, like those found in yards, or make one that is both bright and warm, and have it over a can (tin can) with a piece of fruit in it, and a dead stink bug too, as this is all suppose to attract them.

When it gets near, it will hit the light and fall into the can and drown in 100% biodegradable soapy water, may have to make a cone style top with a hole similar to a fish trap, so that once the bug is in, it cannot fly out.

The Bananna, orange, apple (I know they destroy some apple orchards), etc. (whatever I figure it likes best, and better then the crop the lights could be placed near), would be suspended just under the cone with toothpicks through four holes drilled into the can.

The soapy water would be in the bottom of the can, scentless as possible and well below the fruit but deep enough to consume the insect and remove it.

May build a zapper too and integrate it, but the idea is to use household typically disposable items, tools I have and the toothpicks to keeps costs low, and be maybe purchasing just the lights, if bright and warm enough (which I think may not actually work) and in that event I will just use a standard inexpensive socket, solar panel, and typical photo cell sensor...or make a stink bug App based on sun up sun down stats...hmmmm...App them all to death...they like the an App would be appropriate...LOL

The get part of the apple in the can, then they either fall off or try to fly out and crash like usual, or like I said, I will place an electrode in it and zap them.

The stink bug sees the light and is attractted to it at night and day too, as they fly to the one in my room all the time.

I am in Cumberland, Maryland. Yes my home is still, this winter day, slightly infiltrated, so it is a good time to observe them inside and leave things out for them.

If you have them around and you leave fruit out, rinse or at least sniff the fruit before you eat it, and anything else for that matter. Sometimes they land after crashing and I think the crash makes them emit there repelling stench.

But less so then last year, and this year I let the indigenous weeds grow in about 50% of the yard, but in a way that still looked manicured, and it was quite incredible. I also had no garden do to my health issues and lack of time, and also I did not want these guys eating all the good stuff up.

I had quite a few marigolds in pots as well, and rose of sharon all over, tall and short grasses, and chicory and lots of things that just come up each year...I do not do fertilizer, and I do not manicure my yard, I prefer a more campy look, but certainly not unkempt.

I had more praying Mantis here this year the I have ever had in 10 years, and I do not remember seeing any before this year, and that appears to be due to the milkweed and ------- cant remember its name....and humming birds, other birds I had never seen in the area, butterflies galore and moths, it was awesome...and I planted some Cosmos seed...what an wonderful specimen of a flower.

Again though, for the most part it was all just indigenious and kind of campy around my old camper van and deck and the rest of the yard.

I even had honey bees, and we all have heard about the issues with them, so I was very pleased to see a few, but not at all a lot.

I had some nesting birds too.

The oddest thing was my pear tree had barely but a few pears on it, and usually it is loaded with more then can be eaten.

Nature will strike a natural balance if you know what is suppose to be there.

Hiking here and in higer and lower elevations is important for not just the exercise, but the study of the different species at different elevations so you know what grows where, and a 100 feet in elevation can make a massive difference as well as closer to or further from a water source, wind, etc...every little I just raked over some bare areas with a steel rake and waited to see what came up...amazing what stays in top soil...I even have a grape growing that I am training idea where it came from, but it is happy under my pear tree, so I gave it the home it wanted...after thinking it was a weed and whacking it down three years in a row, and sometime the best way to make a plant strong is to cut it down over and over at a certain part of the growth period each year, and then when you let it alone in year three of explodes forth with strong solid growth and an even healthier stem or trunk, but sometimes you learn this by accident as I did...I thought it may be a grape, but for some reason I wanted something else there but after it insisted and was so could I do that again.


With mostly just letting the idigenous seeds in the soil grow through their cycle, I had more animal life in my yard then I see on hikes I take when I am well.

I think we over manicure, and this alone strikes an imbalance that lets something come along to take the place of the animals that otherwise would have come.

Off on a side note for a few paragraphs...

This can be bad too, for example, and this was not in my yard, but in Alexandria, Virginia I was bitten by an Assasin Bug which can cause Chagas Disease, which I need to be tested for, because I do have the symptoms of the acute staging of the disease, and it is a killer disease, thus the bugs name, and my heart is enlarged, etc...just check out a list of the symptoms of those nice little pests...and what a bite he have me, right in the left arm where blood would be taken by a nurse, for example.

So upon my entomological studies last night over the stink bug, it could be possible I also diagnosed my disease of the heart, suspected blood pathogen, and autonomous sytems attacks, to try to be brief and not so personal describing each symptom.

The always tired part, if I even have the disease, has passed.

Monday I will be calling to schedule this doctors appointment, and the CDC does have a very specific course of treatment they reccommend to your physician, that is how serious it is to suffer from...It has the acute phase, then a seemingly dormant phase, and then it more quickly, but eventually kills you.

My memory is off and on, headaches, and straight down the entire symptom list and in the proper timing, as I have made a time line and compared it to the suggested onsets of the symptoms...match to the tee....I will be surprised if I am wrong.

I never thought I had fibromyalgia, I thought for sure Rheumatism, but those tests are always negative thus farm which is not a 100% indicator that you do not have it, just that if it is present it is undetectable which is better at least then detectable, and I have osteoarthritis all over from injuries.

So I have read and read and read about so many things, West Nile, Lymes Disease. etc, and tested for them and STD's to be safe, never stupid, and always negative, negative, negative. This looks to fit the description to the tee and nothing else quite has even come so close.

So there again are inherent dangers with certain gardening styles, philosophies and pests that one should be aware of.

I was not even in a garden...this bug was on my back pack, i pick it up without realizing it, and it went to my arm (most like fell) and stuck it's very long syringe like proboscis into my vein. It even left a scar.

I identified the bug right away, but at that site, it did not mention anything about disease vectors. So I thought about it no more...until last night.

Yeah I got to drink a stink bug one morning...not a nice experience either...he went in my coffee, I never saw it...gulp, down the hatch...gross all day long taste, but one down and many more to go.

So I was thinking, wonder if they are poisonous, then I thought about the spider that bit me at a friends home one evening (brown recluse) and then the Assasin Bug.

Stink Bugs are not poisonous to us or animals, at least not fatally, who knows if they really do anything to us at all yet?

Chagas is typically a disease of third world and below the equator Americas, but the furthest most state north in the United States were they Assasin bug is now is in Virginia, where I was bitten.

I really think I may have it, and internet diagnosis can be silly, but more knowledge used well is always better then having none.

The docs have tested me for everything under the sun...and my blood is basically in great shape, other then a few Vitamin deficiencies and like the rest of the guys in my family, high tri-glycerides, which are really not related to my diet a bit.

Back to the stink bugs at hand...

If anyone else wants to do this or anything similar or completely different for that matter, please post your results back here.

Scientists have not been able to eradicate the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug yet, or find a natural predator, although I have read about predators (woodpeckers in particular, bit the specific species was not mentioned), they are not common enough, at least yet, nor can they eat the bugs as quick as they can multiply, laying 30 eggs per breeding, from just a single insect.

Perhaps we should just restore the natural balance and stop trying to manipulate so much all the time.

It is apparent, just from my plantings and observations last year alone, that our over manicured yards and our mono-cultures have done an abundant amount of harm, and it is possible to restore it...perhaps.

So that is my plan and I am sticking to it!

John S. Swygert

ADDED 01-17-2012:

My posting which is a copy of my letter to the Pennsylvania and Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, respectively.

I will post any replies that I may receive.

Please check back for updates often.

Here is my reply from Jen Frey, an Invertebrate Ecologist, Natural Heritage Program, Maryland DNR

received: 01-22-2012 9:23 a.m.

Hi John,

Thanks for your email.  I enjoyed reading your blog.  Decades ago it seemed like all naturalists kept great records of what they observed in a given day, and even published their observations, even if all they were doing was sitting on a bench and noting the species of butterflies that flew by, the time of day, etc.  It was written in a way that anyone could understand and enjoy, which unfortunately cannot generally be said about today’s scientific publications.  So I enjoyed reading your blog as it reminded me of a time where scientific literature was fun to read (and to write).

I don’t know that I can do an adequate job of addressing all of the points you raised, but some of my thoughts are as follows:

I also am not a fan of pesticides, as I also believe that they have a variety of negative impacts on invertebrates.  I am however, a licensed pesticide applicator, and I have used them in my work to try to control invasive plants for the benefit of native insects.  I guess I feel like sometimes there is a need for them, and I don’t understand farming well enough to evaluate that need.  However, I think it is in everyone’s best interest (vertebrate and invertebrate) to support local farms that are pesticide-free and grow a variety of crops, as the latter seems to alleviate the pest problems to some extent as well as the need for pesticides.  I think people are doing this more and more and starting to pay more attention to what they are eating and to how the food got to their table (as well as what it went through before it got there!).  I attached a couple of papers that I think may interest you on farming and the importance of native pollinators.  These are not what I would describe as easy bedtime reading but they are interesting and address some of the issues that you so passionately address in your blog.  I agree that nature will always try to strike a balance, but people have altered the natural world to such an extent that I think we need to step up and do more to help set things right (or at least, make things better).

I don’t know what the regulations are in your area for keeping bees.  You might try contacting the Maryland Bee Keeper’s Association.  But also, I would encourage you to check out the Xerces Society website, as they focus much of their work on native pollinators and might have information on attracting native bees to your area.  You don’t need a permit for that, as most native bees are solitary and don’t form big hives like honey bees do.  There are a lot of places now where you can buy or get directions on how to make little bee boxes for native bees (I have a couple in my backyard).  If you Google this topic I think you will find it fascinating and have more information to share with people on native pollinators. As for the lilacs, I actually had a talk with our botanist who informed me that we only have two species of lilacs in the US and both are non-native – one is European and the other is Asian.  Both were introduced and I’m certain that people have been planting these for decades.  I don’t think your two plants are causing environmental chaos but remember that in the future you can always chose to buy natives.

And gosh, what can I say about stink bugs?  I have heard people describe them as the modern-day plague.  The fruit idea is interesting but I’d keep an eye on your traps as lots of insects are attracted to rotting fruit, including butterflies.  You don’t want to have too much by-catch and start killing the native insects that you want to have around.  The light trap is a favorite of moth researchers, and used A LOT to trap moths, so keep on eye on those as well.  Moths and butterflies are two important groups of pollinators that you really don’t want to kill.  Killing a few stink bugs in a trap probably won’t do much to alter the population of stink bugs, but many butterflies and moths are rare and removing individuals from the populations of some species could negatively impact entirely populations if they are small to begin with.  There is a book – I will have to look it up for you – on the negative impact that artificial lights can have on insects of all kinds, particularly moths and beetles I would think, some of the most common insects at porch lights.

DNR does have a link that people can go to if they want to report sightings of rare species.  It is:  And if you are unsure about which species of animals or plants are rare, check out the plant and animal lists, also on the DNR website.



We don’t track common species, but I encourage everyone to get in touch with their inner Aldo Leopold and start writing down their observations.  People always tell me that “they used to see species X in this area all the time, and now it’s just gone.”  That kind of thing always makes me sad, especially when I am out looking for a species myself, in a place where “it had always been.”  Sometimes I think, have I missed my chance?  Is this species gone now from this area?  Will I ever see it? If all people started writing these things down and sharing the information, maybe it would encourage more people to really take notice of what is going on around them and take action to preserve what we still have left. 

Kudos to you for using your voice and sharing your thoughts and experiences.  I wish you improved health as well as happy internet searching.

Be well and thanks for sharing the links to your blog!  I’ll be sure to check in again.

Jen Frye
Invertebrate Ecologist
Natural Heritage Program



Thanks so much for your time and dedication to spend answering my email and it's many questions so quickly and poignantly.

I will carouse the links you have suggested of course, and appreciate the pointing out of the traps likely catching some good critters, not that any one is better then the other, but the stink bugs get the bottom of my list...simply because they are a complained about nuisance by so many, as well as what they can quickly do to crops.

I am a moth and butterfly lover in particular as well as a bird lover, so I of course do not want to jeopardize any others.

The stink bug breeding cycle and output in a short span is rather interesting.

It seems to me, after studying the life cycle and reproduction, and then doing a little math, that taking out a few stink bugs may make the difference between control of the population vs. a proliferation.

Looking forward to this years observations coming in the Spring in particular and I will report back what I am able to observe.

I also liked what you said about the butterflies and the older style notes.

Perhaps soon these data sets can more quickly be shared for the individual wanting to examine that data, as well as be posted to the DNR site so that they can be viewed as you spoke of, easily.

The amount of data being archived on the net now, especially physical data transferred to the net, is staggering.

Hopefully with further standardization, and/or, perhaps browsers where we can change the view of the data sets to our individual liking, more people will find easy access that brings them into the fold of Ecology.

Science is fun, and as you well know, is liked by many more folks when it is made easier to understand.

I posted your wonderful replay again to my blog but left off your email thus far, unless you prefer I include it.

I prefer correspondence to the blog come to me of course, and that responses to DNR can be sent to their main email address, as that is what I had to do and I want to respect that is the way the protocol appears.

I was pleased to see this email I sent get directly to you.

The DNR especially in my experience always gives a direct answer and always addresses the questions they can and are honest as can be about their answers. Sometimes that includes stating there is no answer.

The honesty and response time and specifity to stay on topic are very appreciated, and I think by sharing in this way, we are all able to find answers more quickly.

I would appreciate if you keep this in mind, and also if you are able to send any updates or suggestions, links, others experiences even if being both failures and successes.

This will help the reader base more so and hopefully we can find a simple solution that solves the issue, does no harm to the environment or other species, and is inexpensive and easily maintained.

I think if I had not written, well, how many moths and butterflies and praying mantises I could have wiped out, like you said, really affecting the overall results I found thus far last year.

I think communicating and planning in steps and patience are always critical, and it is easy to miss a seemingly simple mistake as I admittedly did, and I am glad your expertise and education caught me on that one !

As I do not want to take anymore of your valuable time, I appreciate again, very much, that you took time for writing a candid and honest answer that was simple and direct.

I can write in lay terms or technical terms.

The funny thing is on that topic, if one chooses to write in lay terms, the professional often look the other way without a second thought, and if you write in scientific terms, the lay person moves on as well.

A larger audience is more likely to exist in the "lay" area and therefore be well read by that audience, to whom I typically write, not to mention, it is easier to write this way, at least on line.

As this evolves, that is if it needs to evolve because there is no change in the proliferation and control of their population of course, then I may compile charts of data and the likes, if so needed to make a clear observation during my tests.

Really, it is all in good fun and I hope "fruitful", to use a bit of a pun to close out this thank you letter.

Does the DNR have folks that come out to the schools and address different grades.

This area is so pristine that I feel it would be a wonderful program if one does not exist, and may just be the spark to the thought of some youth to pursue a rewarding career similar to yours, where you are making a difference and they realize they can too.

My father is instrumental in MathCounts in Virginia, and I have seen some incredible stuff from the youth simply by assisting my dad and observing and sharing some of my Father's fantastic friendships with some super dynamic professional and some incredibly smart children.

Literacy and education and communication are keys I am always trying my best to weave into my collective writings such as these, but certainly not in my poetry or musical expression, per se, or not so directly anyway

I have included your wonderful words of expertise and advice in your reply in it's entirety to my blog postings.

Thanks so much,


NEWEST REPLY 01-25-2012

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your very nice response.I will check in on your site from time to time as I will be curious to see how your experiments are going.

I don’t necessarily need to know where the bees are located, although I agree that it can be really neat to see them in action.  I have had a couple of people in the past send me pictures of honey bee swarms and they are a fascinating thing to see.  I am glad you are getting a chance to enjoy them.

I’ll be honest that classroom visits are very rare.  There are only 20 or so people in the Natural Heritage Program and SOOO many schools.  It is hard to say yes to one teacher and no to others, and it would just be impossible to accommodate every teacher who expressed interest.  DNR as a whole, and particularly the Wildlife Division, offers many other educational opportunities that people can participate in, though.  Check out the following link for details:  Also, many of our State Parks have great nature centers and offer programs for kids and adults.   You will probably find more to do in the spring, summer and fall than you will in the middle of January, but take a look at the website for some information on outdoor educational opportunities through the Maryland State Parks system.  There is a lot to participate in if you know where to look!  Be sure to check in the spring when things start flying and blooming and emerging from a long winter’s rest.  

Yesterday I saw grasshopper nymphs and other small creatures as I was working down on the lower shore.  Some of us apparently have had quite enough rest and are ready to get moving.