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What you need to know about stink bugs

Overall, a single stink bug is very small. Although the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is larger than other shield bugs, they are still pretty small. These insects are less than an inch long and look like tiny walking shields. Despite their size, stink bugs are hardy, reproduce fast, have few if any natural predators in North America, which has helped them spread across the country and become a serious agricultural pest.

But I don’t run a farm, you say, so why should I care? Well, stink bugs are not picky about the fruits and vegetables they devour. Stink bugs can decimate your garden or vegetation in your yard. Plus, when it gets to be near fall or winter, these insects look for a place to hide and could easily end up inside your home.

For example, this article in the New Yorker tells the story of a home that ended up with more than twenty thousand stink bugs inside of it. 

If you have been finding stink bugs around or inside your home, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office and discuss how to get treatments.

What are stink bugs?

So, let’s get into the basics. A stink bug is a flying insect in the family Pentatomidae. They were native to China, Korea, and Japan and probably hitched a ride in shipping containers to the United States where they were first detected in the state of Pennsylvania. They are an agricultural pest that has some predators back in their native Asia, but very few here in the United States.

The BMSB is grayish-brown in color. They are shaped like a tiny shield, with wide shoulders and wings folded across the back tapering to a kind of a point. The BMSB also has white dots or markings near the edges of their wings or back, which set them apart from other shield bugs. The average BMSB gets to maybe 1.7 centimeters in length.

Why are stink bugs considered pests?

The problem with stink bugs is they seem to have voracious appetites and what they eat are fruits and vegetables. Stink bugs are insects with piercing and sucking mouthparts. They pierce the skin of the vegetation or fruit they are eating and suck out the juices. What happens when they remove their mouthparts is a rotting, puckered bite mark. The stink bugs usually leave several bites and a single piece of fruit can feed man different insects. The bite marks, rotting areas, puckered spots make the fruit or vegetables unsalable.

Stink bugs have a notorious reputation for hitching rides on things and transporting to other places. They are also very hardy and adaptable. This means they can easily cling to shipping containers or products being transported across oceans or countries. They then easily adapt to the new environment and start breeding.

Why are they called stink bugs?

Stink bugs have developed a unique defense mechanism. When they are threatened or crushed, they release a very foul odor. When stink bugs get inside homes, they can be so numerous this odor is often present and filters throughout the home. The scent is described as being much like the powerful smelling spice coriander.

This is why removing stink bugs from the home via vacuum cleaners or by squishing them is not recommended. Handling the insects can cause them to release the odor and crushing them up does the same thing.

How do stink bugs get inside homes and buildings?

Stink bugs lay eggs during the warm months, from May to August. Those eggs have no problem just sitting there throughout the winter and the adult stink bugs also hibernate. When it gets colder, they try to find a nice, hidden, calm and quiet spot to lay eggs and then overwinter. This means they will use any opening to lay eggs between walls inside homes and come out when it gets warm. Sometimes, stink bugs even come out in the middle of winter when the heaters kick on.

How do you prevent stink bugs?

Sealing up your home as best as you can is the best way to prevent stink bugs from gaining access, laying eggs, and coming into the home. Seal up screens, make sure there are door sweeps down to the ground for exterior doors, inspect the outside of the home and seal up holes in the siding and make sure damaged roofing is replaced and repaired.

Once stink bugs have infested a home, removing them can be very tricky. This is why it’s best left to a trained professional to get rid of brown marmorated stink bugs once they have infested a home or building.

Do stink bugs bite?

The good news is that stink bugs do not generally bite humans. They only bite fruit and vegetables.

If you have noticed increased stink bugs activity around your home, inside your house, around your property and business, then get rid of them effectively and thoroughly. Contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office today and discuss stink bugs treatments.

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