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 incolor and are shield-shaped. 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, females attach masses of stink bug 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?
Stink bugs aren’t actually from the United States–so how did they get here in the first place? The brown marmorated stink bug infiltrated the States from Asia. This variety of stink bug is native to Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan. They were first discovered in the United States in northern Pennsylvania in 1998. From there, they moved into New Jersey, and now, the stink bug has migrated to most of North America, spreading in large numbers.
Why are stink bugs a problem?
For homeowners, stink bugs are just a nuisance. But, for farmers, stink bug infestations have caused detrimental damage to crops and plants. Stink bugs typically attack fruit trees, though they also like corn, tomatoes, green peppers and persimmons. They’ll also eat 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.
These agricultural pests aren’t just a problem plaguing corporate farmers. With more intense regulations on over-the-counter insecticides, 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.
Why are stink bugs in my home?
Although stink bugs make their way inside during fall and winter months, it’s not related to temperatures. When stink bugs can’t find food sources outside, they’ll seek other options indoors.
They seek shelter by squeezing through small cracks and crevices. Stinks bugs and other invasive pests, like termites, can also squeeze through gaps in your home’s foundation and crawl spaces. To prevent stink bugs, make sure cracks in doors and window frames are sealed with caulk. If stink bugs can find entry points to your home, they will take advantage.
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. This pheromone is unpleasant and might take a little while to dissipate. If you find that you’ve got the lingering scent of stink bugs on your hands, continue to wash them with warm soapy water.
How to get rid of stink bugs
Stink bugs can be difficult to get rid of. For help with eliminating a stink bug problem, contact us for your free inspection. One of our pest management professionals will assess your needs and create a custom pest prevention plan!