Stink Bug Control & Your Home
Overview on Stink Bugs
Stink bugs, although largely harmless, nonetheless come with a major drawback – namely the obnoxious odor that they emit when they sense danger or are crushed. While they do not bite, sting or cause damage to your home, the smell brought by these invaders can be very difficult to eliminate…so vacuum carefully!
Native to Asia and introduced near Allentown, PA in the mid-nineties, brown marmorated stink bugs are a growing problem. They are especially prevalent as fall turns to winter, and your home offers the warm, cozy environment they seek. First they hide within your insulated walls. They then creep inside as the temperature sinks, lingering on walls, in curtains or near sources of light.
The best form of stink bug reduction is prevention.
Also Known As “Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs”
Scientific Classification: Halyomorpha halys (Linnaeus)
Stink bugs are easily recognizable due to their oval shape that is reminiscent of a shield. The average length of the insect is 5/8 of an inch, and they are typically as wide as they are long. Adults have two pairs of wings that appear to have the texture of leather closer to the head, while the posterior part of the wings appear membranous. Most species have an identifying triangular plate nestled between their forewings known as the scutellum and antennae that are banded with color. The head, pronotum, and wings of stink bugs often feature colorful and noticeable markings, and the body of the insect may look green to brown in color. Stink bugs have beaks held between their legs suitable for piercing and sucking. They get their name from the scent glands located on the underside of the thorax and on the surface of the abdomen. Read more about what they look like.
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Native to Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug is thought to have been introduced into the United States by accident. Today, the insects live throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and continue to migrate to new areas of the country.
What Do They Eat?
Stink bugs feed on a number of different plants and crops. The insects are major agricultural pests that consume apples, pears, and peaches, as well as field corn and soybeans. Other food sources include tomatoes, lima beans, and green peppers. The stink bug will also feed on a host of ornamental plants and larger trees, such as maple, birch, and dogwood.
Biology & Weather
Brown marmorated stink bugs usually only produce a single generation each year, but warmer springs and summers may permit up to three generations of offspring. Adults emerge from overwintering in April or May to mate and lay eggs. Shaped like barrels, the eggs appear white or pale green and are deposited on the underside of the leaves of a host plant.
After hatching, stink bug nymphs go through five instars that cause the developing insects to molt and grow with each one. Each instar takes about a week to complete. Adult stink bugs achieve sexual maturity around two weeks after the final molt.
- Look for stink bugs around lights, crawling on walls or ceilings, or clinging to draperies or other window treatments.
- Often found near potential entry points, such as chimneys, cracks in the wall or foundation, torn screens, window frames, and gaps around utility pipes or cables.
- Commonly attracted to the sunny exterior walls of homes and other structures.
Signs of Infestation
Actually seeing the insects or smelling the foul odor they produce when disturbed are the most prevalent signs of a stink bug infestation. As common home invaders, stink bugs may seem to continuously appear. By releasing an aggregation pheromone which attracts other stink bugs to the area, the brown marmorated stink bug remains a persistent pest.
Do They Cause Damage?
Although stink bugs will hide in your insulated walls when they first begin to overwinter – the process by which pests seek winter shelter from the cold – they do not cause structural damage.
However, stink bugs are incredibly persistent. Once inside, they linger well into spring. Worse yet, they emit a chemical aggregation hormone which alerts nearby stink bugs that they’ve found safe harbor from the cold. That means your small indoor population can quickly increase.
Sealing all points of entry that stink bugs can access is the best way to keep the pests out. Caulk and seal cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, electrical outlets, and chimneys to help prevent the insects from continuously invading. Replace any damaged screens, as well.