December 10 – Stink, Stank, Stunk

Today’s factismal: Pâté made with stink bugs and chicken livers is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.

It is the holiday season once again, and we all know what that means – parties! And one of the most traditional of all holiday parties is the potluck supper, where everyone brings a dish to share with the others. If you’d like to stand out this year from the endless parade of green bean casseroles and turkey à la King casseroles, then may I suggest a nice chicken liver and stink bug pâté? According to those who have tried it, the roasted stink bugs add a certain bouquet to the mix and raise it from the ordinary into something truly unusual. (I wouldn’t know – I’m allergic to insects.)

Eating stink bugs isn’t as strange as it might sound. Not only are insects a good source of protein, by eating them we take back a little of the food that they have stolen from us. And that’s exactly what most stink bugs do – steal food. That’s because they are “true bugs”, with a mouth designed like a hypodermic syringe that can pierce through tough plant or animal skins and suck out the juicy insides.

Brown marmorated stink bugs, ready to be made into pate (Image courtesy USDA)

Brown marmorated stink bugs, ready to be made into pâté
(Image courtesy USDA)

Among the most noxious of the stink bugs is the brown marmorated stink bug. This critter isn’t so bad in its homeland of China and Japan, where a wasp likes to use it as food (see – I told you they were tasty!). But it is spreading rapidly here in North America after being accidentally introduced in 1998. It is now found across the entire eastern United States. Though it is naturally most active in the spring and summer, they can be found more easily in the winter when they migrate into homes to hibernate. They will crawl through open doors, windows, soffits, and just about any opening that they can squeeze their body through in the fall and then wait for spring, snug as a bug in a rug (mainly because they are). If the house warms up enough, then the stink bug may become active and head for the nearest light fixture, which is your chance to catch them.

If you aren’t interested in roasting the stink bug for diner (and I can’t really blame you), then you could always report it to the folks at the Stop Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs web site. They’ll use your information to help the USDA and other agricultural groups fight back against this new pest. To report a bug, scitter on over to:
http://www.stopbmsb.org/

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