Friday, 26 October 2018

Lot-et-Garonne has been Invaded!

Open a window and they emerge from the frame. Take down washing from the line and they scuttle out from the folds.  Get into bed at night and one is bound to wander out from the sheets across your pillow. They huddle on electric cables, lamp shades, the backs of chairs, the edges of books. Pick something up and they will be hiding underneath.

They fall badly - lying on the floor, or the desk, or the kitchen worktop, legs waving in the air - and so they stay until, exhausted, they are comatose.  Pick them up and they wriggle back into life, using your fingers to right themselves and heading off purposefully to explore your hand.

They startle when they burst into flight, wings emerging from beneath their greenish-greyish hard shiny cases. Their deep buzz is out of all proportion to their size and their flight, as they zigzag across the room, is decidedly erratic.

Happy to be in orchards and maize fields throughout the summer, they definitely prefer indoors to outside at this time of the year!

They are shield bugs or stink bugs (crush them and they give off a nasty smell). "Punaises" in French. And their numbers this autumn are so extraordinary (perhaps the hot dry summer has contributed) they have made the front page of the newspaper.

Among the places they have found to hibernate are the gathered curtains of our gazebo outside the cottage.  Unfortunately for them, and some sleepy wasps, we are taking down the curtains and fabric roof for winter.  The task involves much shaking out and grumpy bugs dropping to the ground, picking themselves up off the terrace and trundling off into the grass.

As soon as we put down the folded material a small contingent tries to sneak back into their shelter.

No doubt late next spring, as we set up the gazebo for summer, a few will contentedly re-emerge, having survived whatever this coming winter has to throw at us.