We’ve always had stink bugs around, and bugs that look like stink bugs. But there is a new type making its presence known. It’s the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. But before we go too far into investigating the new guy, let us look at our native stink bug first.
Stink bugs belong to the group of insects known as “true bugs”. Yup, “bug” is a scientific term!
A true bug is of the order Hemiptera and suborder Heteroptera. These insects have sucking mouthparts (among other identifying features) and are commonly economic pests. Other true bugs in our area are harlequin bugs, assassin bugs, wheel bugs, squash bugs, leaf looted bugs, seed bugs, boxelder bugs, and bed bugs. Most of these guys have a similar shield-like body shape and the same wing attachment configuration.
Michigan and Ohio have been home to our own stink bugs for thousands of years. And fortunately, our native stink bugs have been pretty well behaved; becoming pests only rarely. But this new one, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, is a true pest.
Originally from East Asia (and part of a North Korean plot, no doubt), the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug found its way to Allentown Pennsylvania in 1998. By 2010 they could be found throughout most of the USA.
According to Wikipedia, The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug damages or destroys essentially every fruit and vegetable we eat. They attack peaches, apples, green beans, soybeans, cherries, raspberries, black berries, pears, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, soy beans, grapes, lima beans, peppers, etc. And they are involved in the transmission of plant diseases.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug also invades homes in the fall, and survives the entire winter. The record number of stink bugs in one home so far is 26,000! Their population is very mobile, moving around constantly, and they can be difficult to control. There is even evidence that these bugs have developed resistance to many insecticides. Our local populations of The Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are increasing, and we are getting calls to control them.
Do stink bugs really stink?
You bet ‘cha! Stink bugs are aptly named because of the stink they produce when they feel threatened. They make the smelly stuff in a gland on their behinds. Some can even spray their stink.
Do they bite or sting humans?
Well…. Yes and no. Yes, they do sometimes bite, and the bite itches. But they don’t actually sting. Rather the stinky secretions sting when you get them on your skin or if you inadvertently rub them in your eye. Eyes can REALLY sting!
So, what can you do about stink bugs?
- Call Pest Patrol. Two or three treatments to the exterior of your home will protect you year-round.
- Caulk any gaps in your siding, soffits, and around windows.
- Caulk any gaps in your door frames, around chimneys, or any openings.
- Once inside the house, catch them carefully. If you vacuum them or squish them they will stink.
- Stink bugs will often fly to lights and windows, so sticky traps may work here.
- Fruit trees near your home may attract them to your home in the fall.
- Two trees – Tree of Heaven and Princess Tree – are real favorites of stink bugs. Plant them in your unpleasant neighbor’s yard as a peace offering.
- Don’t stick the stink in your eye!