Stink Bugs How Do We Control Them?

Invasion of the stink bugs...No, it’s not the title of an under-funded horror movie, it’s a reality facing U.S. households as winter nears. Entomologists (scientists who study bugs) predict this will be the worst year on record for these pungent home invaders. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture named the Halyomorpha halysthis year’s “top invasive insect of interest.”

The Halyomorpha halys also known as brown marmorated stink bugs, first arrived in the United States in the 1990s. They originated in Asia, but somehow made it to our shores. Now, they can be found in 40 states. As it gets colder outsider, these bugs make their way inside homes and offices. They most often get in through thin gaps in doors or windows. Next thing you know, you’ve got dozens (or more) six-legged roommates.

To gauge just how substantial this year’s stink bug onslaught will be, the federal government launched “The Great Stink Bug Count.” The project encouraged private citizens to count the number of stink bugs they see in their homes and report the information via a special website. The data collected will be used to analyze the spread of the population as well as gauging home factors they find most attractive. Data such as home color, size, location, elevation and surrounding plants will be reviewed.

Truth is, stink bugs are relatively harmless to people. They don’t generally bite and they aren’t poisonous to people or pets. In fact, in some African countries like Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa, people eat them regularly.   Halyomorpha halys are a much greater threat to crops. They feast on fruits, corn, soybeans and a variety of other agricultural products. Estimates point to the stinky insects causing over $37 million in crop damage in 2010, the last time their numbers neared where they’re projected to be this year.

Despite not being “dangerous” to people, we still don’t want them in our homes. There’s not much worse than a bunch of creepy crawlies scurrying across the floor while family is over for the holidays. Not to mention their repulsive perfume. They excrete the scent to deter predators, a pretty effective tactic. For a long time, American birds and lizards wouldn’t touch them, but they seem to be getting over that now.   Wondering how to keep your home safe from these bugs?

First of all, it’s important to make sure your window and door seals and caulking are up to par. You should also check for even tiny gaps anywhere else along the exterior of your home. Even if things look pretty solid, you may want to have a pest control company come out and spray the perimeter of your home with an appropriate pesticide.

If the little buggers somehow get inside despite your best efforts, the easiest thing to do is vacuum them up, but be warned that your vacuum might take on their odor. If you go this route, be sure to use a vacuum that has a bag and then seal that bag tight before throwing it away. You can also simply grab and drop them in a bowl of soapy water to do away with them. In this scenario, however, it’s your fingers that will likely smell a bit distasteful until you thoroughly wash them.



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