If you notice a certain pungent smell inside your home or around your yard this summer, take heed. Stink bugs are back with a vengeance, and they’re literally bringing the funk.
But if you think these smelly pests are a mere nuisance, think again. Stink bugs can be downright destructive, and these little buggers are on the warpath destroying gardens, taking out crop fields, and making farmers beg for mercy.
Maybe that last part was a little melodramatic, but these pests are a real problem.
So if you want to protect your home from stink bugs, learn how to prevent them from showing up at all.
Where Stink Bugs Came from and Why They’re Here
Brown marmorated stink bugs come in various shades of brown on both their tops and undersides and often have gray, off-white, black, copper, and bluish markings.
They are native to Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea, but were transplanted into the United States accidentally.
And therein lies the problem.
Since stink bugs aren’t originally from around here, they have no natural predators, so they reproduce at an alarming rate. Recently, these pests have been found in forty-two states and two Canadian provinces.
Keeping Stink Bugs Out of Your Home
Just as with any invasive pest, prevention is key. The best way to prevent stink bugs from invading your home is to seal all cracks around windows, doors, siding, pipes, and other openings using a high-quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Be sure to repair any broken screens or windows as well, as these can also provide easy access.
If you’ve already found stink bugs in your home, there’s a couple of different removal methods you can try. But regardless of what you do, the most important thing to remember is you never want to crush them! When a stink bug is crushed, the aptly-named insects emit a pungent odor.
But not to worry. There are several effective removal methods that don’t involve crushing them.
If you prefer to remove them by hand, do so gently, and try placing them into a pan of soapy water. Just be sure not to squeeze them, as they could go into defense mode and emit their odor. If you’re having trouble attracting them, try mounting a desk lamp or a light above the pan.
If you have a particularly large infestation, or just want to remove them quickly, try using an old vacuum that you’re not particularly attached to. A shop vac or wet vac would also work; just avoid sucking them up with that brand new Dyson you got as a wedding gift, because you’ll likely want to toss it when you’re done, to avoid any future smell.
Keeping Stink Bugs Out of Your Garden
Unfortunately, the inside of your home isn’t the only place you’ll have to worry about these pests. Stink bugs love to feast on fruits and vegetables, and are currently posing a major threat to crops, and The U.S. Department of Agriculture is hard at work studying their behavior.
A team of researchers who received USDA Specialty Crop Initiative Funding have been investigating the spread of these bugs, and have determined that they pose a severe agricultural threat in nine states, and a nuisance in seventeen others, including the Hudson Valley, where they were first detected back in 2010.
If you find that stink bugs have been wreaking havoc on your garden, try planting some sunflowers or French marigolds. These plants commonly attract ants, ladybird beetles, and lacewings, which are natural stink bug predators.
If you’re not looking to plant anything more this year, you can try your hand at some insecticidal sprays, but be aware they tend to only be effective on younger stink bugs. The tricky part about insecticides is that you may end off killing some beneficial insects in the process.
The most effective treatment method, however, is to contact your local pest control specialist. Pest professionals have a deep understanding of unique pest behavior and will be able to both assess the stink bug infestation and develop an effective course of action.