For those in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, you may be familiar with stink bugs invading your home in the fall and winter months. While stink bugs do not present any health concerns, they are a nuisance to many homeowners.
What are stink bugs?
Adult stink bugs are approximately three-quarters of an inch and brown, gray or dark green in color and are shaped like a shield. They have alternating light bands on the antennae and dark bands on the thin outer edge of the abdomen. The stink glands are located on the underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of legs.
Stink bugs typically reproduce once a year, but warm spring and summer months can cause them to reproduce two or three generations in a single year. In the warm months, female stink bugs attach masses of eggs to the undersides of leaves and stems. After hatching, wingless nymphs go through five life stages before maturing into adults.
Adult stink bugs are most active from spring to fall, as they emerge from their overwintering spots and seek shelter from the cold. In many cases, they find their way into homes and shelter themselves in curtains, lampshades and other household objects.
Where did stink bugs come from?
The brown marmorated stink bug is native to Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan. They were first discovered in the United States in northern Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, the stink bug has migrated to most of the country.
How did stink bugs spread so quickly?
When stink bugs seek shelter, they often end up in cars and other vehicles. One vacationer reported driving hundreds of miles away from a home in Pennsylvania, opening the camper, and unwittingly releasing brown marmorated stink bugs in a new location.
Why are stink bugs a problem?
For homeowners, stink bugs are just a nuisance. But, for farmers, stink bugs have caused detrimental damage to crops and plants. Stink bugs typically attack apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits, corn, tomatoes, green peppers and persimmons as well as ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans and beans grown for food production. When stink bugs eat, they use their piercing and sucking mouthparts, which causes permanent damage to plants.
Some growers have lost entire crops to stink bug invasions, and the entire agricultural industry has lost millions of dollars due to stink bugs. Because they are not native to the United States, there are no natural predators here to help control the population. Scientists are feverishly working on ways to combat this invasive species.
Stink bugs aren’t just a problem plaguing corporate farmers. With fewer options for insecticidal control, organic vegetable growers have been overwhelmed where stink bugs are common. Community gardeners and homeowners have been vexed with hordes of stink bugs ruining their crops.
What is that smell?
When handled or disturbed, stink bugs secrete a foul-tasting, bad-smelling fluid from their pores, which protects them from predators. To them, that’s what humans are, even if they are just trying to move them outside.
For tips on preventing stink bugs from getting into your home, check out this post. For help with eliminating a stink bug problem, contact us for your free inspection. One of our pest professionals will assess your needs and create a custom pest prevention plan!