Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cooling it: A Stink Bug Story

Everyone who has air-conditioning probably had it cranked to the max over the weekend. And they’ll keep it cranked at least through tomorrow.

I have central air in my small bungalow, but it only works on the first floor. The second flo

Cooling it: A Stink Bug Story

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Stink bug (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources photo)

Everyone who has air-conditioning probably had it cranked to the max over the weekend. And they’ll keep it cranked at least through tomorrow.

I have central air in my small bungalow, but it only works on the first floor. The second floor has no air returns, and the vents are at floor level. So the cold air wafts across the boards and heads directly downstairs.

Until now, my solution has been to depend on a room air-conditioner in the second-floor bedroom window.

But we also have a small bedroom on the first floor, and this has gotten me to thinking: Why not just sleep there for the summer?

Now, as if my carbon footprint wasn’t bad enough — energy consumption for home air conditioning accounts for almost 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the U.S. —  marmorated stink bugs have provided a new impetus.

Stink bugs are an east Asian immigrant that showed up in Allentown in 1998. They move inside houses and other than the gross-out factor — they look prehistoric and buzz loudly when they fly — apparently they’re not harmful.

Now I don’t usually mind bugs, if they keep to themselves. But it was REALLY gross last fall when we took out the window unit. Hundreds, minimum, were  crowded inside the case and in the creases of the window sash. So THAT'S where they’d been coming from all summer. Yeccchhhh!


We vacuumed the bugs — how satisfying! — put the unit in a big plastic bag and put it in the basement.

Yesterday, we brought the unit back upstairs, opened the bag (which did NOT have a hole in it; I checked carefully) and some stink bugs were still in there...AND STILL ALIVE!!! So for anyone who doubts whether insects could really rule the world (or already do) that may be valuable data.

Last night, we slept downstairs. This morning — after going on patrol and squishing 14 stink bugs upstairs — I made a temperature check.

On the second floor, it was 81 degrees.

On the first floor, it was 76.

In the basement, it was 69.

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t bother.

There are big spiders down there. 

Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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