It’s Stink Bug Season, Here’s What You Need to Know

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Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are pests characterized by a shield-like shape, straight antennae, and piercing, sucking mouthparts. These bugs mostly eat fruits, vegetables, and other plant matter, although they can occasionally be predatory. One of the most frequently encountered of this order of pest is the Halyomorpha halys, or brown marmorated stink bug. While first recognized as an agricultural pest in China, Japan, and Korea, this Asian stink bug can now be found across the United States.

An adult brown marmorated stink bug can be anywhere from 12 to 17 millimeters long.  As is common with stink bugs, the brown marmorated stink bug has a body that is nearly as wide as it is long.  As its name implies, an adult of this species has a mottled brown color, with lighter bands on its antennae and dark bands on its front wings.

A nymph, or immature stink bug, is red and yellow and has red eyes. As the nymph grows into a mature stink bug, the yellow will lighten to an off-white color.

What Does a Stink Bug Do?

Stink bugs are pests of fruits and vegetables, and the brown marmorated stink bug is no exception. These pests have been found feeding on an assortment of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, blackberries, corn, green peppers, lima beans, oranges, peaches, soybeans, and tomatoes.

In order to feed on fruits, the stink bug pierces the skin of the fruit and sucks in the nutrients with its mouthparts. The stink bug leaves the fruit to grow after having its fill; its former presence often marked by fruit with scars that resemble a cat’s face. Farmers and gardeners are often aware of a stink bug infestation by the visible damage done to the crops. Stink bugs are an especially damaging pest to citrus crops, and orchard owners must be particularly vigilant in detecting and managing this pest to minimize the damage it can cause. 

In addition to being pests in the field and garden, brown marmorated stink bugs often make a nuisance of themselves in homes. Seeking to find shelter where they can spend the winter, the stink bugs will make their way into residences during the late summer and early autumn. They find their way into homes through cracks and other access points, hiding away during the winter in the attic, crawl space, and even inside the walls.  

Once Spring arrives, stink bugs arouse themselves from their winter dormancy and become active once again, often emerging into the living space of the residence. With Winter behind them, the stink bugs are now intent on finding their way back outside and will gather on windows and walls while attempting to make their escape. They can also be found in large groups on occasion, warming themselves on the sunny side of homes. The visible presence and unpleasant odor of the stink bugs are most often unwelcome discoveries for homeowners.    

How do Stink Bugs Reproduce?

Stink bug females typically reproduce in the summer by laying 20 to 30 eggs on the underside of a host plant. Four to five days after the eggs are laid; the nymphs emerge and begin to feed. As they mature into adults, the nymphs will undergo a series of molts until they have fully grown into adults by the fall.

How Can I Prevent or Eliminate a Stink Bug Infestation?

As stink bugs like to enter the residence through cracks and other access points, homeowners can seal off as many of these access points as possible to discourage stink bugs from entering. Caulk can be used to seal the gaps around doors and windows. Attics and crawl spaces can be protected by installing screens over the vents. Torn or damaged window screens should promptly be repaired. Gaps under exterior doors can be easily sealed with the application of weather stripping.

Once stink bugs have taken up residence in your home for the winter they can be very difficult to remove. During this dormant period, stink bugs do not feed or reproduce. Warm winter days may encourage early activity, but they will usually not disperse from the home until spring arrives. Once they do find their way out of the home they will not return until it is time to find shelter for winter once again. Using a vacuum cleaner to remove a stink bug population, while a common remedy, may cause an unpleasant odor to remain in your vacuum for a considerable period of time. Removing the vacuum cleaner bag will help but not entirely eliminate this odor. Stink bugs usually avoid or overwhelm sticky traps meant for other pests. Cedar and cedar products have also been found to be ineffective deterrents to stink bugs. A local pest control professional can help determine the best course of action and most effective materials for eliminating an overwintering population of stink bugs and preventing a re-occurrence. Contact us today at Alliance Pest Services for information on how we can help you. Learn more about our home and commercial pest control services right now!

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