Marmorated stinkbugs giving in-laws the creeps

The Baltimore Sun

My daughter-in-laws from Delaware and Virginia think my house is dirty because stinkbugs keep getting in. What can I do?

We get many calls about the marmorated stinkbug, an insect pest recently arrived from overseas. Because the bug is without the natural predators that evolved with it, its population has exploded here. It does not damage homes or carry disease, but dealing with it can be frustrating. Vacuum or sweep it up, but don't spray toxic chemicals in your house or "rescue" it for release outdoors. Tighten up home caulking and weatherstripping. This pest will spread to Delaware and Virginia in time.

My Bradford pear tree has been splitting apart, and the last ice storm made it impossibly ugly. Would you recommend replacing it with a different type of ornamental pear?

At present, we can't recommend any kind of Callery (ornamental) pear. Though the original Bradford pear tree was carefully bred to be sterile, a problem arose when varieties developed to correct the Bradford's breakage problem pollinated with Bradfords. Now millions of volunteer Callery pear trees are crowding out native trees and invading parkland. Excellent native alternatives include fringetree (chionanthus), serviceberry (amelanchier), redbud, southern arrowwood (viburnum dentatum) and blackhaw (viburnum prunifolium). Orchard fruit-bearing pear trees are not Callery pears and are fine to grow.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers free gardening information. Call 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions at

hgic.umd.edu.

checklist

* Pull young trees upright if high winds and soft, saturated soils cause tilting. Gently tamp down soil over the disturbed root system.

* Avoid the temptation to start seeds indoors too early. Check seed packets for transplant dates.

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