Stink bug sitting on our bedside table

When Bryon and I bought our house in Nederland, we knew that part of mountain living would be learning to coexist with wildlife.  But the wildlife we had in mind was more on the order of coyotes, foxes, deer, elk, etc.  What we didn’t have in mind was the wildlife that would move indoors and share our living space with us — such as bats, spiders, and Western Conifer Seed Bugs.

When the weather outside turns cold, frosty, and snowy, the seed bugs find their ways through the cracks in our log exterior and move inside.  The seed bug is a rather bland looking brown color and is less than an inch end to end, but possess antennae that are almost as long as their body.  It looks rather like a small cricket and though often confused with Assassin Bugs, are rather harmless.  They don’t bite, nor do they carry poison.

However, they do carry a rather pungent odor, especially when crushed, thus giving them the nickname of “Stink Bug.”  The smell of the crushed stink bug smells a lot like a pine tree, probably because of their preferred food.  As you might guess from their name, they feed mainly on the seeds and cones of conifer trees, so it’s not surprising that they are quite abundant in the mountains of Colorado.  We cut down a beautiful Douglas-fir on our property to put up as our Christmas tree this year, and suddenly the stink bugs were everywhere.  Routinely I find them in the bathtub, in the sink, drowning in a glass of water, on the nightstand and once even woke up to find one in my ear!  Ewww!  Initially, both the cats and the dogs caught the stink bugs, but after trying to eat them once, never again, as the taste of the smelly stink bug didn’t sit well with them.

But the other night we discovered a stink bug in the strangest, and perhaps grossest possible place.  I had made some soup for dinner and had just set down the steaming bowls of chicken tortilla soup for Bryon and I to eat.  Bryon kept saying he smelled a stink bug that had been crushed and began looking for it.  He looked under his seat cushion, on the floor, on the table and could not find it.  Yet the smell of fresh crushed stink bug was overpowering.  We began to eat our soup, figuring we’d find it later in the evening, when suddenly Bryon got a strange look on his face, exclaiming, “I think I found it!!”

Somehow a stink bug had ended up in his soup, and was mixed in with the chicken, veggies and other ingredients.  Bryon, being the rugged outdoorsman, will eat almost anything, including food off the ground –fished it out, threw it in the sink, and started to eat the rest of the soup.  However, the odor of stink bug is not one that dissipates easily, and it had permeated the entire bowl of soup, a smell that even Bryon couldn’t get himself to stomach.  We ended up throwing out the rest of the soup, completely hand washing the bowl, and cooking a new batch of soup.

So if you’re ever looking for interesting recipes for the mountains of Colorado, look no further than “Stink bug Soup.”