There are a certain select few words in the English language which convey instantly the concept to be communicated. These terms are frequently puny, terse, and quite to the point.
Stink is one of those expressions. Rare be the individual who does not understand when the term stink is applied to the abstract concept or a tangible object in a conversation.
Whether it be a particular sports team, a political idea or a weekend spent at some ill-considered activity, if it stinks it is not good or worth repeating.
The insect world has member which has this appellation attached. Stinkbugs, which are members of the Pentatomidae family, have a well-deserved reputation for bad behavior and odor.
Curiously, the scientific name Pentatomidae means five sections, referring to the body parts.
Wakulla County is currently seeing an abundant quantity of all this family’s malodorous members. Vegetable gardeners are particularly concerned as these insects damage the plants and the vegetable products produced.
Two stinkbug types are exotic pest. The southern green stink bug is believed to have originated in Ethiopia with its distribution now including the tropical and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
In North America, it is limited primarily to the southeastern United States, Ohio and Arkansas in the Midwest, and to Texas in the southwest. It is also established in Hawaii and California.
The adult is easy to recognize with a shield-shaped body and an overall dull green color. The eyes are dark red or black. The average length for males and females is about half an inch. Females can lay eggs three to four weeks after becoming adults, laying as many as 260 eggs over her life span.
The other exotic member is the Kudzu bug which was first found in Wakulla County last month. Its length is less than one quarter inch and it originated in Japan.
These exotic stinkbugs work like most of the stinkbugs worldwide, using their mouth parts to pierce tender plant tissues and suck juices out. This trait is not an issue until it interferes with suburban landscapes or commercial agriculture.
Farmers and homeowners alike have spent countless sums fighting the hordes of stinkbugs dining on particular plants and foliage. Tender vegetation and inmature vegetables are particularly attractive to the stinkbugs. Only the stinkbugs reproductive rate and hardiness have assured its continuation.
Behavior and popularity aside, the stinkbug does use an internal chemical weapons system to deliver a foul smelling substance for its personal safety and protection. This anti-predator adaption is located in the stinkbugs thorax pores and is hard to miss with it expends all its reeking resources.
Unfortunately for the stinkbug this does not always work. In some native Southeast Asian cultures, the stinkbugs’ odor is considered a culinary enhancer. The local stinkbugs are mixed with other local specialty items to produce a popular, strong smelling condiment.
To learn more about exotic and native stinkbugs in Wakulla County contact the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/.