Aussie couple stunned to find heaving 'mass' on remote road
Sarah Birchmore said she immediately recognised the bug because of its 'very distinct and lingering aroma'.
A couple will be forced to fumble around their home in the dark for the next few weeks after spotting a “moving mass of tiny insects” on an access road to their remote Western Queensland property.
David and Sarah Birchmore from Kiriwina Station couldn’t believe their eyes when they stumbled across the heaving pile on Wednesday morning.
Incredible footage shared to the Birchmore Commercial Crossroads Facebook page shows what the couple believe to be “millions of juvenile gidgee bugs” crawling north on a dirt path. “Looks like we will be keeping the lights turned off at night for a few weeks yet!” the couple captioned the clip.
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Ms Birchmore said she recognised the insects were gidgee bugs — a member of the stink bug family — because of their “very distinct and lingering aroma”.
“They are a seasonal insect out here, though we have never ever seen so many in one place, and certainly not in a procession like this. They were definitely juvenile gidgee bugs as they were only about the third of a size of the ones we usually see, and none were flying yet.”
Gidgee bugs 'find their way into houses'
Once the bugs start flying they gravitate toward lights, she said, and “seem to be able to find their way into houses even when you think you have it well sealed”.
“The only thing you can do is turn off all lights and hope that you don’t find any in your bed! Oh, and make sure you check the kettle before you boil it in the morning,” she joked.
Not only can their “almost acrid” smell “hang around for a long time”, Ms Birchmore said, but the insects often pile up “on top of one another at the base of poles or under raised houses” before dying, “so you have stinky bugs that start to decompose”.
The grazier said they thankfully haven’t had that occur at their home, but fears the “swarm” they saw this week “doesn’t bode well”.
“These insects were heading in a northerly direction when we saw them, so fingers crossed they keep heading that way!” she added, noting the nearby town of Winton is hosting its Way Out West Music Festival next weekend.
“It won’t be fun if the stage floodlights are covered in gidgee bugs. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed them!” she laughed.
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Little known about gidgee bugs
On Friday, Greg Daniels, an honorary researcher with the Queensland Museum, confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the insects in the footage appear to be “mostly adult gidgee bugs with possibly a few juveniles among them”. He explained that it was slightly hard to tell from the footage alone, but they have previously identified similar cases in the area.
During an increase in numbers in 2010, entomologist from the Queensland Museum, Christine Lambkin, told the ABC there is little known about gidgee bugs. “It would appear that they are possibly members of a genus called cepaloplatus and it’s a type of true bug,” she said. “Most people would commonly refer to them as a stink bug.”
Ms Lambkin said that although they are “definitely a nuisance”, the insects pose no risk to humans.
“They can actually bite but all they are really doing is giving you a little nip because they think you are a plant,” she said. “They are testing out whether or not you are a good feed — they certainly won’t have any effect on you if they do give you a little nip.”
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