The Creative Gardener – Everything you need to know about Stink Bugs

As temperatures begin to rise, bugs and other insects are beginning to rise as well. One of the more common bugs we hear and see of more these days are the stink bug. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) has slowly turned into the new nuisance bug like the Japanese Beatle were a few years ago.

Stink bugs have not been a nuisance for very long. They first arrived accidentally into the US in the late 1990’s in Pennsylvania. Stink bugs quickly spread across the country and became a major pest to homeowners and farmers. They get their name from the foul odor they release when they are crushed.

I get asked all the time “Do stink bugs bite?” The answer is simple. Even though my son would say they do, stink bugs are not known to bite humans or pets, but their tendency to invade homes can be a nuisance. The most effective way to remove stink bugs from your home once they are indoors is with a vacuum cleaner; however the vacuum may take on the smell of the stink the bugs’ release.

The problem for home owners begins in the fall. As the temperatures drop, the stink bugs try to stay warm by clustering on the sides of homes. This usually occurs on the south and west sides due to the warm afternoon sun. Many stink bugs will work their way into your home through small cracks or crevices, doors, attic vents, and other gaps they may find. Stink bugs then will “hibernate” in your home all winter long usually in the walls or in your attic. When the temperatures rise in the spring, they are ready to migrate back outside. This can happen sporadically in the winter on warm days.

The biggest threat of the stink bugs are to the agricultural industry as they can destroy crops. They feed on fruits and leaves. They feed by sucking on the sap from pods, buds, blossoms and seeds. Some species of stink bugs even feed on juices from caterpillars and beetle larva. They are often crop pests on cabbage, cotton, beans, squash or melons.

When nighttime lows begin to rise into the lower 50s, you can expect the stink bugs to arrive. There are a few chemicals you can purchase to spray on your home. Focus on spraying the south and west side of your house. Make sure to read and follow the label on your pesticides prior to using. Keep in mind that while sink bugs are a nuisance they can be dealt with. It’s not easy or fun to do but avoiding the stinky smell they bring is worth the effort.

Happy Gardening