As the walls crawl

They’ve become an addition to our list of daily chores.
Make dinner
Bathe kids
Walk dog
Vacuum stink bugs

I think wistfully back a year, when only a handful of these little armor-plated insects gamely marched across our hardwoods. Few in number, stink bugs happily coexisted with us — until Hadley plucked them up and swallowed them.

Fortunately, her stink bug-eating days are behind her, but so are the days of few bugs. Nowadays, we’re overrun in plague-like proportions.

And if our house is New York City for these creepy creatures, then the kids’ bedroom is Midtown Manhattan — the hub of stink bug activity. In the warm afternoons, the bunny rabbit wall border crawls to life. Bugs proceed cautiously along the blinds, like gymnasts on a balance beam. They doze in the folds of pants and shirts, and they stream along the furniture like factory workers changing shifts.

We’re not alone in our mass occupation. I’ve seen barns coated in their shield-shaped bodies and heard stories of people who’ve caulked their windows closed to staunch the stream of stink bugs. One woman plugged up her toilet by flushing away tissues laden with stink bugs. And I’ve even heard about one bug that was roosting inside a pair of pants. He scaled the person’s leg and crawled inside the underwear… to a region where no stink bug should ever venture.

Back in our aged dwelling, Martin and I vacuum loads of bugs from the dresser drawers. One person pushes away the clothes to reveal a scuttling pile, while the other hastily hoovers up the fleeing pests. (The kids are more startled by the vacuum than the bugs. When the vac roars to life, they leap on Hadley’s bed, sending up a flurry of stink bugs from the duvet cover.)

Last night in my zest, I accidentally sucked up a sock and clogged the vacuum. When Martin dismantled the machine and pulled the hose from the bag, a stink bug sentry sounded the alarm: “Look lads, an escape path has been revealed. Crawl to safety!

Dozens of stink bugs crowded the opening and fled the confines of the vacuum cleaner bag. In a moment’s time, we were back to square one again.

Tonight we took a hoover hiatus. We shook out the kids’ pjs, flicked bugs from the spines of books and ignored the room’s acrid stench. What can I say? The bugs are bearing down. And they just might have us beat.