Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Invasion of the Stink Bugs

We were in spaceship Kepler of the Airstream Basecamp fleet, stationed in the Wildcat Den State Park quadrant when the invasion occurred. These micro-sentients cleverly disguise their spaceships as tiny, shield-shaped stink bugs. They fly, they crawl, they swarm--they invade. 

Homes can be invaded, and through our experience, so can camping trailers. After our invasion, I researched the stink bug. While there are over five thousand species of stink bug in the world, the current villain is the brown marmorated variety ("When Twenty-six Thousand Stink Bugs Invade Your Home"). Airstream, the royalty of travel trailers, is not so royal that the stink bugs are reluctant to invade, and our sixteen-foot Basecamp we found especially vulnerable. Here's how it all went down not in a galaxy far, far away but in a state campground a little over an hour away. 

Folding bike secured, rear door screen rolled up
Our Airstream Basecamp is a tiny, 16-foot toy hauler travel trailer. I've traveled with a folding bicycle secured in the trailer's walkway, and kayak's are also stored inside by some. The rear door has a snapped screen to keep out bugs when the door is open. My wife and I have found that the snap screen works well for flying insects and that we can use the screen at night to keep out mosquitoes. However, the stink bug invasion taught us that insects that crawl (although stink bugs also fly) can find ingress by just cozying up to the screen and then finding a small space between the screen and wall; they just keep on edging toward the warmth and then find their way inside.

I'm sure we threw out at least a hundred of the stink bugs while camping, and now even two weeks later I'm still finding a few of the bugs as I clean out and refurbish the trailer for our next trip. Yesterday I winterized the water system and found another five bugs hiding beneath the seat cushions. I threw them outside and then later wondered, am I just seeding my yard for bigger crop of stink bugs for next year? 

A nice moment of the park trail
Our big realization was that if we had not been primitive camping, we could have closed the camper and switched on the air conditioner. Wildcat Den only has a small, primitive campground, though, so we had to deal with the stink bugs on a one-by-one (or handful-by-handful) basis. It definitely wasn't what we had planned! It was an odd experience going to sleep, wondering if one of the bugs was going to drop on your face during the night. Nothing like the heebie-jeebies as a foundation for a good night's sleep!

The trail has some unique vistas for Iowa
The ridge trail down to the mill
It was an unusual camping experience for the weekend. We had to deal with the unusually excessive heat. There was the invasion of the stink bugs. Also, on our Saturday hike, we left the trail and walked back to camp on the hot asphalt road because we were told that ahead of us on the return walk, a hiker had collapsed from dehydration, and there were about thirty emergency rescue personnel and hikers creating a bottleneck on the trail. We chose to walk the road to allow for social distancing. 

I suppose every camper has its unique construction challenges. For the Airstream Basecamp, the rear screen definitely has its limitations--especially for keeping out crawling insects who are attracted to warmth. Our experience wasn't exactly biblical in terms of our suffering, but we did spend a lot of time engaged in a weird parody of "catch and release" that many anglers practice. We definitely weren't telling those stink bugs we tossed outside, "Now you go off and grow up and get bigger. Then maybe we'll catch you and have you for supper!"

Subscribe--Follow by Email

* indicates required


  1. We had the exact same thing happen in our ALTO R1723 this past Spring. Hundreds of stink bugs invaded. It took weeks to eradicate them all. We never figured out how they came in.

    1. Well, at least I have a good idea of how they entered. When I get some better weather (rain today), I want to set a drop light beneath the trailer when it's dark. Then I can see any entry points and block them with steel wool.