There are many tiny things that crawl, fly, buzz, sting, bite and hop around in the backyards of homeowners everywhere. One bug in particular, the brown marmorated stink bug, has dramatically increased in numbers and has become a major pest, for both homeowners and the U.S. agriculture industry.
The brown marmorated stink bug originated in Asia and is commonly found in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. In less than fifteen years, since it was first spotted in Pennsylvania, the stink bug has spread to nearly 40 U.S. states. “The brown marmorated stink bugs are heavily concentrated in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania,” said Ames Herbert, an extension entomologist at Virginia Tech.
According to an article in The Washington Post, “The brown marmorated stink bug, first reportedly spotted near Allentown, Pa., in 1998, was responsible for a $37 million dollar bite of the Mid-Atlantic apple crop and a $15 million dollar decrease of Pennsylvania’s peach crop in 2011.”
The brown marmorated stink bug is easily confused with other stink bugs. One notable distinction are the alternating light and dark bands on the last two segments of the antennae. Adult brown marmorated stink bugs are a blotchy brown color with alternating light and dark markings along the edges of the abdomen.
Stink bugs are often referred to as ‘shield bugs‘ due to their shield-like shape. They are two-thirds of an inch to an inch in length and width, as they are typically as wide as they are long. Upon closer inspection their piercing, sucking mouthparts are visible to the naked eye.
Despite their dubious history not all stink bugs are seen as crop killing pests. Predatory stink bugs keep beetle larvae and caterpillar populations in check. But there appears to be no upside for the brown marmorated stink bugs as they are voracious eaters of numerous species of fruit and shade trees.
The brown marmorated stink bug secretes a distinctive odor from its thoracic glands when threatened-hence its name. This chemical release also occurs when it is crushed. The pungent chemical, that reportedly smells like a combination of skunk, smelly feet and bad cheese, is a message to fellow stink bugs, alerting them to danger. Strangely enough the foul-smelling odor also plays a role in attracting mates and to suppress attacks from other threatening microorganisms.
The brown marmorated stink bug, much like other stink bugs, seek indoor shelter in the fall. They invade unsuspecting households, through any openings, in order to survive the winter. They gain access through cracks in doors, windows, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath wood fascia. All openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or a silicone-latex caulk. Damaged screens or windows should be repaired or replaced.
Once stink bugs have entered the home it is paramount to seal all openings with caulk thus preventing their escape. Both living and dead stink bugs can be removed through use of a vacuum cleaner. Once inside the vacuum bag, remove it immediately, seal it and dispose of the bag at a considerable distance from the home. Pesticides should only be used inside the home or other building interiors by pest control professionals if at all.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of stink bugs from your property.
Have you had any stink bug encounters? Share below in the comments.