What’s Bugging You? A Biologist Battles Stink Bugs

Stink bugs in Doug Inkley's home

They’re the house guests that refuse to leave, make a mess, and creep you out. Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) have been bugging NWF senior biologist Doug Inkley, Ph.D. for a while, despite his best efforts to show them the door, vacuum cleaner, dust pan, and trash bag. Plus, when stink bugs are disturbed, they emit a foul odor. Their perseverance, however, is worse than their smell.

“I hate the little stinkers,” Dr. Inkley says, and with good reason. He’s found the invasive pests everywhere inside and outside of his home, including under his mattress, in his food, and clogging up his bathtub drain. To make matters worse, the little buggers have drained him of thousands of dollars and countless hours in prevention and cleanup.  So far, Dr. Inkley has counted over 20,000 stinkbugs in his home over a period of 72 days. Ewww…

Chart of Doug Inkley's Stink Bug Invasion

“Unfortunately,” Doug Inkley says, “my home has become a living example of the problem of invasive species, and they are headed your way!” His battle with stink bugs has taught him valuable lessons to help other homeowners. Dr. Inkley’s dilemma has attracted media attention, and he has some tips for making brown marmorated stink bugs camera shy in your home.

BMSBs like to hide in tight spaces, especially the nooks and crannies of walls. They are attracted to light, moisture and heat, which is why they tend to invade homes in the fall and winter.  They can fly, a sight that is both fascinating and disturbing, and their wings make a gentle purring sound.  You can also find the unwelcome critters walking on just about every surface. Dr. Inkley doesn’t recommend using pesticides indoors to get rid of them because the bugs tend to hide inside walls. When the warmer spring and summer weather draws them outside, he suggests sealing up all exterior entryways with caulk and any other appropriate materials.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

“I have been on the war path to try to try to caulk every interior crack I can find. I am making progress as the daily numbers have dropped below 100. That may seem like a lot, but it is an incredible relief” says Dr. Doug Inkley. Now, he no longer sees a stink bug in his home every twenty minutes. “I almost miss that gentle chatter of their little wings,” he says. Almost.

Click here to find out more about invasive species like the brown marmorated stink bug and what you can do about them.

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Published: March 14, 2011