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Pests/Stink Bugs?

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QUESTION: Mr DeAngelis,

I live in WV and beginning in 2013 we have had an infestation of Stink Bugs, I'm not sure of their proper name.  (Box Elder Bug seems to come to mind?) The past few years the Lady Bug Beetles were a problem, but these things are much worse. These bugs get into the house, by what means I have no idea, but they just keep showing up, bouncing off the lamp shades at night, and landing on me as well.  I am 57 yrs old, and in my lifetime this has never been a problem.  So my obvious question is, Why Now, all of a sudden?  I have been using flying insect spray to kill them, as it is said they smell terribly if  crushed.  And to just catch them and put them outside seems redundant, as they will just find their way back in again.  Our local County Extension Agent only suggests preventing them from getting in (duh!), and if they get in, to catch them and put them back out.  He offers no means by which to control the population, or why this has suddenly become a problem in the first place.   

Can you please shed some light on this subject?  I'm getting very tired of fighting them!  

Thank You!

ANSWER: Gary,

There are a couple of species that can get into houses but you are probably dealing the brown marmorated stink bug (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/brown_marmorated_stinkbug.html for a picture). This is a new invasive species in the US which is why you have not seen it before. It is causing problems across the country but mostly in the east for now. Your agent's advice was basically correct - keep them out by sealing cracks, repairing screens and so forth. Those that do get in can be swept up and disposed of but if you crush them they will stink. There is no way to control them outside because they can fly a long distance. The good news is they are harmless. Spraying the outside of the house in the fall sometimes works pretty well (see page cited above) Sorry I can't offer a silver bullet.

Jack DeAngelis


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yes, that is exactly the insect I am dealing with.  But if they are a new invasive species, where exactly did they come from?  Were they introduced into the environment for some reason, perhaps to control another insect as some species have been in the past?  Or did they migrate here from other parts of the country or the world?  Thank you for your time.

Answer
They were not intentionally introduced. They are native to se Asia and probably got here on produce shipped from there in the 1990's. They will probably spread to most of the country. I forgot to mention that treating the wall voids and attic sometimes works as well, see the page I cited before.

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects such as aphids and spider mites, insects that bite and sting such as ticks and wasps, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

Organizations
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html Fine Gardening magazine

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology (the study of insects)

Awards and Honors
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

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