What's That Smell?

- National Pest Management Association
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I have procrastinated on writing this blog post for a while. So this morning, I did what all good procrastinators do – visited Facebook. I justified my dalliance by telling myself I might find inspiration for a subject to cover there; I didn’t really believe it but I felt better about my transgression. Well, how fitting was it that the first two posts I saw from friends in different parts of the country were about stink bugs? I saw numerous complaints about these fall invaders and lots of misinformation about them, so, thanks to karma, today’s topic is stink bugs!

I read one post that suggested stink bugs were transported from another country to eliminate ladybugs. Incorrect. Stink bugs did come from Asia, but they were not purposely brought here. They made landfall in America in 1998 and were first found in eastern Pennsylvania. They have now been reported in 40 states. For those of you fortunate to live in one of the ten states that haven’t laid eyes on these ugly things, they look like a blend of a dinosaur and a bug. They are brown, gray or dark green and have a distinct shield-like shape.

Unfortunately, they have wreaked havoc on numerous crops; so much so that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is researching what natural predators they have in Asia that we can unleash here, so that those higher-ordered bugs can eat the stink bugs and save our peaches and apples and such. The cycle of life, I guess. (Don’t worry, though, the USDA won’t send a new insect species out into the wild without making sure it’s safe to do so!) While the stink bugs cause devastation to our crops, they don’t really cause problems around residential settings – unless of course you count utter fright and disgust. However, these smelly bugs are currently inviting themselves indoors as they are looking for vacation spots to overwinter. If they have selected your home as their Club Med for the cool months, don’t despair. These slow moving creatures can be easily removed with a tissue or vacuum. But, be careful not to squash them because if you do, you will learn how these insects earned their names. Their smell has been aptly described as a blend between rotten eggs and smelly feet.

Some people report having hundreds and even thousands around their home. If you are inundated, a pest professional can assist. While I am thankful to China and Japan for many of our imports, these beady-eyed, pre-historic looking creatures are something I could do without!


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