Like many North County homeowners, Robert van Dam and his family were creeped-out by stink bugs in their Monkton house last winter. The bugs crawled up their walls and down their arms.
The van Dams accidentally squished them when they sat down and woke up at night when the insects buzzed past their pillows.
Robert van Dam spent much of the past year tinkering with a handmade contraption to rid his house of bugs.
It worked so well that he applied for a patent and is now selling The Stinkbug Catcher, a hand-held device with a square plastic funnel, a water bottle and a handle.
"I didn't want to make a trap and wait for them to find it, I wanted to be able to catch them. You get immediate relief," said van Dam, who came to the United States from his native Holland in 1993 to work in industrial equipment sales.
He designed the catcher after noticing that stink bugs fall from a wall or ceiling as soon as they are touched.
The catch a bug, he scrapes the square funnel with a plastic lip under the bug, which falls down the funnel into the water bottle. A long plastic tube that attaches the funnel to the bottle prevents the bug from climbing back out of the bottle.
A metal handle on the bottle has a hole into which a pole can be attached to be able to catch bugs on the ceiling.
"Now that it's cold outside, the bugs are coming into the house where they're happy to stay all winter," van Dam said. "This is when you need the catcher."
He said it is easy enough for any age to use, including his wife and 12-year-old twins are now adept at catching the pests.
Cathy Douglas, of Westminster, is a family friend who saw the catcher being designed and bought the finished product.
"I like this much better than a trap," she said. "I don't want them to fly by me to get to a trap. If I see them, I get them."
The Stinkbug Catcher sells for $19.95 and can be ordered at http://www.thestinkbugcatcher.com.