Thom Smith | Naturewatch: Reader: Stink bugs are killing my monarch caterpillers

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Q: I have two milkweed gardens and I am having an issue with what looks like a stink bug. From what I can see, they have killed all of my caterpillars. My milkweed has had a lot of caterpillars eating at them and then they are dead on the leaf. I saw one being killed by what I think is a stink bug. Is there anything I can do to discourage or get rid of these bugs? Any help would be appreciated. Enclosed is a photograph.

— Marge

A: I do not recall stink bugs among the predators of monarch butterfly caterpillars, but did find a shrunken dead caterpillar on one of our swamp milkweeds a few days after you wrote. It didn't take long to confirm what your photograph clearly shows. My best suggestion is to hand pick or brush the predators into a container of soapy water. I will look into this more.


I don't visit our local library, The Berkshire Athenaeum, nearly as often as I promised myself I would when I retired. When I do though, just for pleasure and not for research, besides chatting with delightful people at the main desk that I have known for years, I find more than a couple books with titles that attract my attention. And most often I find something at the standalone 14-Day bookshelves. And yes, as expected, I frequently check out a volume dealing with natural science. Not so this past visit. I became interested in fairies while writing a piece last summer on the subject and checked out the latest novel on the subject, "Fairies of Sadieville" by Alex Bledsoe and even less like me, "The President of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment," edited by Julian E. Zelizer.

My next stop is usually the card rack that provides an always fresh assortment of tri-folds and other configurations publicizing a wide assortment of local sanctuaries, historical and art museums, and general information of potential value to residents and tourists alike. This visit provided me with a 2018-2019 Schedule of Pittsfield Curbside Recycling. I picked one for this installment of Naturewatch and one for a new family that has recently purchased a home close by.

Through the years, various recycling companies serving our city (Pittsfield) have had various regulations of just what can be recycled, and while this information is available for most cities and towns online, I spend so much time at a keyboard that I welcome information that is tangible. For one like me, who can never remember what is to be recycled this week, it is nice to have it, along with the holiday schedule and what can (and should) be recycled. And even more important common objects that should not be offered for recycling.

In one group, clean paper, cardboard, shredded paper, greeting cards and wrapping paper (no foils or metallics), paperbacks and phone books with covers, (paper clips, staples and metal spirals are OK.) In the next group, metal cans, foil, milk and juice cartons, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, (labels and caps on bottles are OK), jars, tubs and clear plastic hinged (clamshell) containers, empty aerosol cans once containing health, beauty and food only.

Don't recycle Styrofoam, colored plastic trays, plastic bags, plastic cups, flower pots, light bulbs, plastic utensils and CDs, DVDs, coat hangers, pots and pans.

In Vermont (statewide): There are six materials that must be recycled statewide. Have these recyclables picked up curbside or drop them off at a transfer station or recycling center. (I do understand items to be collected are different in different communities, and readers should check what will be helpful to recycle, and will cause problems.)

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- Paper, including magazines, newspapers, mail, catalogs, phone books and mixed paper. But Not paper towels, soft tissues, hard cover books.

- Aluminum, cans, foil, pie tins, and trays. No aluminum siding, scrap metal, pots and pans.

- Cardboard, dry and clean cardboard, cereal and cracker boxes. No juice cartons, wet or soiled cardboard.

- Steel, cans and lids, empty aerosol cans. No major appliances, scrap metal, pesticide sprays, paint cans.

- Glass: beer and wine bottles, mason jars. No window glass, light bulbs, ceramic dishes.

-Hard plastic: water and soda bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles (etc). No plastic bags, Styrofoam, large plastic toys.


Help save the Endangered Species Act. (Remember just how hard it was saving the American Bald Eagle, Condor, Peregrine Falcon?)

Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been at the forefront of species protection, placing the United States of America as a world leader in science-based conservation. The ESA is our nation's most effective law for protecting wildlife in danger of extinction and has prevented 99 percent of listed species from going extinct. Despite how effective this law has been at its intended purpose, the current administration has its sights on weakening the ESA to the detriment of the species it was designed to protect. Your voice is needed to let the U.S. Fish and Wild Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service know that the proposed changes to the law are unacceptable.

Contact your U.S. representatives and senators to let them know that you oppose any changes to the Endangered Species Act.

Find your member(s) of Congress at From there you can find their contact information.


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