Still feeling half asleep, I stumble into the bathroom to take a shower.  Pulling back the shower curtain, I glance into the gleaming white tub to find three large stink bugs in the bottom.  Back when we first moved into our house, this probably would have elicited a shriek or at least a gasp.  But no longer, because after seven years, I know that winter means an invasion of stink bugs.  An invasion that permeates every room in the house — bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, home office.

So being a Park Ranger kind of woman, I simply scoop them up and hurl them out to window, knowing the battle to rid the house of stink bugs is one that I won’t win.  Tonight as I climb into bed, I find one inside the sheets.  Better that, than the one night I felt my ear itching in the middle of the night only to find a stink bug had crawled in.  That time, I really did shriek — ew, gross!

Much of the time, I know the stink bugs are near by not because I see them but rather I smell them.  Because they seem to be everywhere, including on the couch or on the rug, I accidentally crush them before spying them, which inevitably sends up the pungent smell of pine, thus giving them their nickname, “Stink Bug.”  In reality, they are officially called Western Conifer Seed Bug, feeding off of pine needles and giving them their pine odor when squashed.

But part of life in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is sharing your idyllic mountain home with wildlife – in all forms.  Finding the stink bugs in the tub reminded me of an earlier mountain experience in the Sierra Mountains.  While living in a rather spartan log cabin as a Park Ranger at Sequoia National Park, we used to find another critter in our tub and sink often — Wolf Spiders.

Wolf spider, courtesy of wikimedia

If you’ve never seen a Wolf Spider, they are pretty scary looking.  They are a rather large spider, almost tarantuala-sized, a dark brown and rather hairy.  As spiders go, they are for the most part harmless — not carrying the venomous bit that a black widow carries.  But in terms of appearances, they are pretty creepy.

When you work as a Park Ranger and live in said national park, much as you’d like to crush that spider and send him down the toilet to his imminent demise, you feel a duty to “protect the wildlife therein.”   Because they have an affinity for water, they were frequently found in the sink or tub.  So part of my morning ritual became looking before leaping into the shower, plucking up said spiders and taking them outside, and then finally taking my shower.

It’s really all ok though.  Because eventually warmer temperatures will return, and the stink bugs will migrate to the great outdoors again.  In the meantime, I begrudgingly find a way to coexist with them in a way that won’t drive me insane.