Where Do Stink Bugs Come From?
The brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) come from China originally, and other Asian countries, now this new species is also found in the United States.
Having arrived from Asia on cargo ships, the stink bugs have travelled to, California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and South America. In fact, these pests have been found in 44 different states to date!
This invasive species of insects have got just about everywhere in the United States. Although they are still fairly new to North America.
Stink bug damage
They are a very invasive species as they are herbivores, stink bugs feed on, and they will cause major damage, destroying an entire crop of vegetation, ornamental plants and fruit and vegetable crops, so they are a real nuisance species. They have reduced crop production massively in the Eastern United States.
Invasive species take a foothold and before you know it they have successfully invaded a new country and become a major nuisance destroying crops, bushes and other vegetation.
Unfortunately for gardeners and crop growers, the stink bug does not have many natural enemies. Other animals that try the stink bug often find their taste awful, natural predators may even spit them out.
Global warming has lead to climate change meaning stink bugs are thriving in countries once considered unsuitable for stink bugs.
Rutgers University did a study on stink bugs and found that they prefer high places, which explains why you will not find them in your basement but you will find them on your first floor.
They emit a terrible smell, a foul smell if squashed or if they feel threatened, hence the name stink bug.
The good news is the adult stink bugs do not cause damage to property.
What do stink bugs eat?
- Lima Beans.
This is a shortlist of a stink bugs diet, they eat other crops, the list is long! Stink bugs are also partial to ornamental plants so be on the lookout in your yard.
What are the signs of stink bug damage?
Often common signs left behind of a stink bug feeding, are marks left on the fruit these marks can be yellow, green or white, where the stink bug has been sucking the juice from.
For a crop farmer, this can be devastating as the damaged crop cannot be sold as it is, no one wants to eat discoloured and marked apples! This can then lead to a huge waste of apple crops it may only be able to be used for juice.
What do stink bugs look like?
An adult stink bug (Halyomorpha Halys) is around 1.5-2cm in length and the same length across.
The stink bugs body looks like a shield, and it comes in various shades of mottled brown.
It is similar in appearance to other native species like the green shield bug, the difference is a stink bug has a white band on the antennae and dark bands on the thin outer edge of the stink bugs abdomen.
Stink bugs have six legs, and a set of wings so they can fly.
The stink bug has three body parts. The stink glands are found underneath the thorax in between the first and second pair of legs, this is where the smell comes from to defend against predators whether human or animal predators it will be used.
What attracts stink bugs in your house?
Stink bugs tend to be seen in most homeowners properties during the fall.
Having fed from your fruit trees and other and vegetable crops and ornamental plants during the summer, feeding and breeding, the air turns chilly, which stink bugs do not like.
Stink bugs cannot cope with colder weather for long periods so the stink bugs start to invade homes to get them through the winter.
Stink bugs will seek shelter, once the stink bug finds shelter they will release an aggregation pheromone that will attract other stink bugs. Once other stink bugs arrive you could have huge amounts in your home over the winter months.
During winter the stink bugs insects do not feed, and female stink bugs cannot lay eggs until the spring.
In the warmer months of spring female stink bugs lay eggs on the underside of leaves. Roughly 30-100 stink bug eggs can be laid in a day. The eggs will hatch after 5 days or so into nymphs they will feed straight away.
The stink bugs eggs are barrel-shaped which varies in color depending on the stink bug species.
What keeps brown marmorated stink bugs away?
The brown marmorated stink bugs do not like mint, try using mint plants indoors and outside in the yard to deter the stink bugs.
Stink bugs are attracted to yellow, plant yellow flowers as a food source, away from your prized flowers etc to distract the stink bugs.
Why do stink bugs appear out of nowhere?
A change in the weather to cooler temperatures will encourage brown marmorated stink bugs to be seeking shelter indoors, out of the rain and snow, and when indoors the stink bugs will try to find a safe place away from human predators.
Leaving outside lights on will attract stink bugs, try to close drapes etc as much as possible to prevent the light from illuminating outside.
Where does a brown marmorated stink bug come from and why are they in my house?
During the summer months stink bugs are happy outside often near farms and feed on fruit crops such as apples, and other fruit and vegetables.
The stink bugs have been known to destroy entire crops! This of course leads to millions of dollars in losses to crop growers.
As it cools down the stink bug will make its way to somewhere warm, like your home.
Can a brown marmorated stink bug bite?
The stink bugs mouthparts are not designed to bite human skin, their only form of defence is their foul odor. Adult stink bugs have sucking mouthparts to remove plant juices.
Is the brown marmorated stink bug a danger to humans?
The odor from a brown marmorated stink bug can cause an allergic reaction, the symptoms can be as minor as a runny nose.
A squashed brown marmorated stink bug can cause dermatitis if it gets on the skin.
A brown marmorated stink bug does not bite humans or feed on our blood.
So in summary they are pretty harmless to us.
How do the stink bugs get into my house?
The stink bugs will get through entry points around the home. Check around your property for cracks, crevices and gaps.
Check for gaps in door frames and window frames. If the window mesh is damaged have it replaced or repaired.
If you have water taps outside that are leaking this will attract stink bugs and different species of insects, have it repaired.
Blocked drains will attract stink bugs, unblock the drains and check for blockages on a regular basis.
How can I prevent the stink bugs from getting into my home?
- If you want to open windows consider putting mesh screens up they will prevent the stink bugs from getting in the home.
- Seal up all the entry points you have found around the home, this can be done by using a foam sealant, Caulk or weather stripping tape.
- Check for entry points such as vents, do not seal them, cover in a mesh so that air can still circulate.
- Keep lighting to a minimum, turn off the porch lights if possible so you do not attract the pests.
- Put away all fruit in a sealed airtight container.
- Keep counters and floors crumb-free.
- Empty garbage bins often and seal up the bag.
- Stink bugs can make their way into your home via your grocery bag, check through it before bringing it inside.
- Store logs outside at least 20 feet from the house.
- If you come across stink bugs in the home please do not be tempted to squish them, vacuum them up and dispose of the bag straight away.
Insecticides containing Pyrethrin can be bought and will work quickly, you could also try bug traps the stink bugs walk over the trap and become stuck fast to the tape.
Natural pest control
To kill stink bugs mix up a spray bottle with 2 cups of hot water, 1 cup of white vinegar and half a cup of dish soap. Spray the soapy water on the stink bugs directly to kill them.
This naturally occurring white powder kills stink bugs and other insects by dehydrating them leading to death. The structure of Diatomaceous earth is crystalline so it is abrasive, when a bug walks over it the exoskeleton is damaged drying out the stink bug.
If you have pets use food grade Diatomaceous earth, as it will not harm them.
Sprinkle around bushes and trees, and entrances to the home.
The smell of Neem oil like other essential oils to stink bugs and other insects are awful.
Neem oil is a natural oil that contains insecticidal substances, to get rid of bug populations mix up a teaspoon of dish soap with 2 tablespoons of 100% pure Neem oil. Apply 2-4 cupfuls to a plant root and after time you should see the bug populations have gone.
Apply every three weeks, as that is how long the Neem oil scent will last. Click here for more info.
Kaolin clay is a mineral clay and can be bought easily online, it is sprayed onto plants which prevent the stink bugs from laying eggs and feeding on the plant. Click here to find out more.
This product is washable and harmless to humans on edible fruit and vegetables.
Pheromone sprays can be bought online or in-store, apply around the perimeter of the house to deter stink bugs. Click here for more info.
Place damp towels on chairs in the yard overnight. In the morning the towels will be covered in stink bugs, throw the towels and stink bugs in the garbage.
Now you know where stink bugs come from, you also now know how to deal with these pests to make your home stink bug free.
Please take a look at the other pest control items we have covered on our website, there is a wealth of information and advice on pests and control.
If you have any questions please feel free to drop us an email we do our best to respond as quickly as possible.
Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively.