Stink Bugs, Stink Bugs Everywhere

This stink bug landed on me as I was writing this post.

The name says it all. Stink bugs.

Some stink bugs species are native to North America and their populations are kept in check by their natural predators.   That’s no big deal.  But, the brown-marmorated stink bug is a recent invader, having first been discovered in eastern Pennsylvania in the late 1990’s, and it is a big deal!

Native to China, Japan and surrounding countries, some brown marmorated stink bugs somehow hitched a ride to the U.S.  Absent their native predators, the brown marmorated stink bug population is exploding, and its range rapidly spreading across the country.

Now, these true bugs are not only adding odor to our lives, but are infesting households in shocking numbers.

National Wildlife Federation’s very own Doug Inkley has been observing the issue and is concerned that we’re only going to see more invasive species thriving with large populations.

The stink bugs in particular are hard to eradicate because of their tendency to live in the walls.

Pesticides and Stink Bugs

Doug discourages the use of pesticides when treating a stink bug problem for two main reasons:

  1. Stink bugs live indoors, where pesticide use is not only harmful to their health, but also to the humans and pets of the house.
  2. It is very difficult to get a dose of pesticide on them because they hide deep within walls.

The Best Way to Remove Stink Bugs

Doug’s stink bug infestation

The best way to treat stink bugs is to keep them out of the house in the first place. Find out where they are coming from and block any entryway they use. Be prepared to do a lot of caulking.

Inkley had to go to extreme measures, spending $10,000 to replace all the windows in his home, which were old. The stink bugs were somehow finding their way around the window frames.

Once they do get into the walls, it is even more challenging. In his own household, Doug has “been literally removing indoor window molding, pulling out baseboard heaters and tearing out floor molding to remove these buggers and block up their entryways.”

“This weekend I vacuumed up more than 8,000 stink bugs in my attic, to add to the now more than 4,000 I’ve removed from my living space since the beginning of January,” he said.

“My battle is far from over as Sunday afternoon after all the work to get rid of them, another 100 found their way into my first floor living space. I think it is far more than a nuisance.”

Doug’s suggestion is to vacuum up the stink bugs and take note of where they enter or where you find concentrated numbers. From there you can hopefully discern where they are coming from.

Home and Garden Invaders

The invasion of our living spaces isn’t the only problem these bugs pose.

According to Doug, “This invasive species is a serious threat to crops.” Even in his own garden, the tomatoes last year rotted on the vine because the stink bugs pierced the ripening tomatoes to feed on plant juices, which allowed bacteria to get in and cause the rotting.

The sad part of all this is that it could have been avoided. Inkley says that “As a nation, we are doing a terrible job at keeping potentially harmful non-native species from entering the United States, and it’s costing us billions. Pythons are taking over the Everglades, Asian carp are threatening the Great Lakes, zebra mussels have already invaded the Great Lakes where they are causing numerous problems, red fire ants from South American now run wild in the southeastern U.S., and the list goes on and on.”

Inkley says we need better control at our borders because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Watch Doug being interviewed by 9 News Now >>


Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) by state.
Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) by state. Click here to view the interactive map.
brown marmorated stink bug nymph
A brown marmorated stink bug nymph. (Photo by John Beetham)

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Published: February 17, 2011