18 January 2015

Discovering Stink Bugs, Ghost Ants and Other Strange Things

Location: Turtle Beach Campground, Siesta Key, FL, USA
A fall trip to beautiful Taylor Ranch near Asheville, North Carolina to attend Overland Expo East introduced us to many different 'overland' topics.  We heard discussions on whether or not to bribe border guards, how to travel safely, how not to get arrested in Russia, we saw Tigers, Unimogs, Earth Roamers and a variety of other vehicles, BUT the one thing that really stuck with us was our introduction to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Insectus Odorous)affectionately called simply "Stink Bug". 

Stink Bug

While camped at Taylor Ranch these little guys covered the doors and windows of everyone's campers, seeking warmth from the upcoming winter.  We had never seen Stink Bugs before and were quickly advised not to squish them, since they release a pungent odour similar to coriander - (hmm, wonder if they make coriander flavouring from stink bugs?).  We continually swept them out of the camper, off the door, steps, bumper, windows - all to no avail.  

When we returned home we did a massive search of LOAF to ensure we could eradicate the entire population of these hitchhikers.  They hid in the propane closet, even under the truck bed mat.  We were ruthless, but were confident that any we missed would soon succumb to the cold Ontario weather. 

While set up in Naples we were invaded by ants.  Tiny, tiny, microscopic ants.  Our helpful neighbour Jim told us they were GHOST ANTS (Insectous Casperous).  Aw, another new insect species for us!  He kindly offered to call his exterminator to come and 'spray' LOAF.  "Just take your clothes outside before he comes". Hmmm.... no mention of what would happen to our food, our mattress, our pillows - "thanks, but we'll try something else first". Out come the ant traps, we spray the outside of the steps, door and bumper.

A quick internet search led to the conclusion that these insects, unlike our friendly Stink Bugs, were safe to squish.  The attack was on!

As an aside, here are some quick facts that I learned while conducting my 'Stink Bug' and 'Ghost Ant' research.
  1. There are approximately 10 quintillion insects in the world.
  2. There are approximately 91,000 species in the U.S. alone.
  3. Stink Bugs are vegetarians.
  4. The Ghost Ant has a slit-like anal opening in their abdomen and are you ready for it - it's hairless (I wonder who discovered that little known fact).
  5. Butterflies taste with their feet.
  6. Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
  7. Turtles breath through their butt.
OK - ant traps and spray work, the ghost ants are gone.  Life returns to normal until one day some little, dark stains start appearing on the toilet lid.  Where are they coming from?  Crusty does his scrubbing and they are gone! Next day, they are back - a new cycle begins, until finally we look up to the bathroom ceiling and there is the culprit!  A Stink Bug!  Somehow one has survived. He is quickly removed and throwing caution to the wind we squish him. A couple of days later, more stains on the toilet seat and another stink bug.  Crusty determines that they would make a good pet since they are obviously easily toilet trained.  Now, if we could only teach them to lift the seat!

As soon as we think we've seen the last of the stink bugs, another appears.  I decide to search the camper and destroy all of the remaining stink bugs.  Using my womanly logic, I ask myself "If, I were a stink bug, where would I hide"?  Then it comes to me "Of course, the only logical place for a stink bug to call home is in Crusty's socks & underwear drawer".  I don my headlamp and gloves and search through Crusty's drawer.

Not a single stink bug to be found.  You never, ever see where they are hiding.  They just magically appear.  You look at a spot on the wall one second, nothing, the next - a stink bug!  You go days and there are none, then you'll see three in a day, they appear right before your eyes, just like a ghost. 

I have finally realized that these are not stink bugs.  What has happened is our original stink bugs were not vegetarians, I think they mated with the ghost ants, ate the ants, and these new bugs then ate the original stink bugs. 

There are always warnings in the press about new 'super bugs' being found, well we have found one.  We have 'stinky ghost bugs' (insectous casperous odorous).  Thank goodness they don't bite.

                                                                WRY Reporting ... from the Wildlife Desk


  1. Helen I thought this bug blog was to funny and hoping it doesn't happen to me. I would feel itchy the whole trip lol

  2. So glad you enjoyed it. You'd better start thinking about MADERR blogs! Thanks for commenting....


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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty