Where did stink bugs come from?Dr. Jim Fredericks
Thursday, October 4, 2012
NPMA explains where this pest came from & why they are a
If you reside in the Northeast or the Mid-Atlantic
regions of the country, you are likely familiar with stink bugs,
especially in the fall and spring months. Although stink bugs
don’t present a health threat to people, the fact that they look to
our homes as a winter vacation spot makes them a major nuisance
this time of year.
What Are Stink Bugs?
Adults are approximately three-quarters of an inch and brown,
gray or dark green in color and are shaped like a shield. They have
alternating light bands on the antennae and dark bands on the thin
outer edge of the abdomen. The stink glands are located on the
underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of
These pests typically produce a single generation per year, but
warm spring and summer conditions could push them to produce two or
three generations. During warm months, female stink bugs attach
large masses of eggs to the underside of leaves and stems. After
hatching, the wingless nymphs go through five immature stages
before becoming full-sized, winged adults.
Adult stink bugs are most active from spring as they emerge from
their overwintering spots to late fall, seeking shelter from the
cold. In many cases, their shelter is also our shelter and
homeowners begin to see these pests hanging on curtains,
lampshades, screens and other objects inside homes.
Where Did Stink Bugs Come From?
The brown marmorated stink bug, native to Japan, China, Taiwan
and South Korea, was first discovered in the United States in
eastern Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, the stink bug has
migrated to other states such as: California, Connecticut,
Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina,
Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia,
Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
In recent years, there have been reported sightings in Alabama,
Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Vermont, Washington, and
Why Are Stink Bugs A Problem?
Although simply a nuisance pest for homeowners, stink
bugs have become a serious problem for the agricultural
industry in the United States due to the damage they cause to
crops and plants. Stink bugs typically attack apples,
peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits, corn, tomatoes, green
peppers and persimmons as well as ornamental plants, weeds,
soybeans and beans grown for food production. Because they use
their piercing and sucking mouthparts to feed on plant juices, they
end up damaging the crop permanently. This damage results in a
characteristic distortion, referred to as "cat facing," that
renders the fruit unmarketable. Some growers have lost their entire
crop to these pests and the agricultural industry as a whole has
incurred millions of dollars in losses. As an invasive species, the
stink bug doesn’t have any natural predators and scientists are
feverishly working on finding ways to combat this destructive
What Is That Smell?
The problem more familiar to homeowners who encounter this
slow-moving, armored-looking pest — is the smell. When handled or
disturbed, stink bugs are able to secrete a bad-smelling,
bad-tasting fluid from pores on the sides of their bodies. This
secretion protects stink bugs from predators .And, to them that’s
what we are — tissue-wielding, newspaper-swatting, foot stomping
The reason stink bugs end up in our homes is because they are
looking for a spot that will keep them safe from harsh winter
elements such as rain and snow. Some you see, but many more will
manage to hide in attics, basements or other parts of the
These stinky visitors will once again make an appearance in the
spring as they seek a way outside to find a mate. Preventing them
from coming into our homes is the best way to avoid the “ewww,
stink bug!” shrieks that emanate from home after home in the spring
and fall months.