Stink bugs are one of the pesky insects you will deal with in your home and outdoor spaces. When the weather turns cold, they come around to seek for warmth and shelter. As the name suggest, stink bugs produce unpleasant odor when disturbed – as a way of keeping away predators.
Like other bugs such as gnats, stink bugs will enter your home in large numbers in search for a place to overwinter. While not a threat to humans, stink bugs will become an odoriferous nuisance around. In this guide, we delve into what stink bugs eat, where they come from and how to get rid of them.
Where do Stink Bugs come from?
The brown marmorated stink bug native to Asia, was first spotted in the United States in 1998 and has since spread cross more than 43 states. Stink bugs was discovered as an agricultural problem which has cost farmers thousands of dollars.
The insects would attack plant produce including fruits, flowers and soft stems. Their needle-sharp stylets creates wound that leaves pant parts damaged and vulnerable to infections. This prompted a scientific research on biologically control of stink bugs as explained by sciencemag.com.
During warm months, female stink bugs lay large amount of eggs and attach them to the underside of leaves and stems. After hatching, the nymphs go through metamorphosis stages before becoming full-sized, winged adults.
During spring, adult stink bugs emerge from the overwintering spots and they become active until late fall when they start seeking shelter from the impending cold conditions. Homes become the nearest and favorable targets for hideout. They will be allover on porches, covered patios, windows and inside a home.
When in your home, stink bugs will also not spare your ornamental plants including your outdoor potted plants. When handled or disturbed, the armored-looking pests secrete a bad-tasting fluid and a pungent smell from pores on the sides of their bodies.
What attracts Stink Bugs?
In the garden, stink bugs are attracted to fruits, soft leaves and flowers which they feed on and also establish shelter. On your outdoor spaces, things like outdoor patio heater will attract the bugs. Most bugs also like hovering around some form of outdoor lightings.
Unlike mosquitoes that will come for your blood, stink bugs usually search for warmth in homes. When one individual locates a suitable place, it is able to release a pheromone that will attract others. In overwintering phase, these bugs will not reproduce or consume anything.
Stink bugs gain entry into structures through any openings including cracks, crevices, gaps in the window and door frames, holes in foundations, soffits, attics, and underneath siding. Homes located near agricultural fields and fruit orchards will experience a surge in infestation by the smelling bugs.
Do Stink Bugs Bite?
Stink bugs don’t bite nor spread diseases to humans or pets. The harmless bugs only produce a strong smelling compound that is very unpleasant. This happens when they are disturbed or get crushed. The strong smell can take time to go away and can cause allergic symptoms in some people such as sneezing teary eyes and runny nose.
Some people confuse stink bugs with assassin bugs, which can bite humans when handled. Assassin bug bite is usually painful and the areas around it may swell – but will not require any medical attention. If you suspect a bite with severe symptoms from a bug, seek medical attention.
What do stink Bugs Eat?
Stink bugs mostly feed on plants but few predatory species attack and feed on other pests such as velvet bean caterpillars, root weevils and Colorado potato beetles. During spring young stink bugs eat soft stems, flowers and leaves of plants and weeds. When fully matured they move to fruit orchards, agricultural fields and residential landscapes.
Sting bugs will then start feeding on fruits including apples, berries, peaches, tomatoes, beans, pecans and more. Their sharp mouth pierce holes in fruits exposing them to infections or causing scars that resemble face of a cat. This makes fruits unfit for sale thus a big loss to the farmers.
What do Stink Bugs Smell like?
Stink bugs use a strong pungent smell to repel predators such as birds and lizards. The smell can also be released when you crush or disturb the bug. Most people describe the smell in various ways including cilantro, skunk or burnt tires. The smell typically varies depending on the species the stink bug. While the smell is disgusting, it does not harm humans.
There are a number of ways to prevent and get rid of stink bugs smell:
- Avoid touching stink bugs directly
- Do not crush or squish them
- Gently grab them with a plastic bag and take them away
- Vacuum the bugs and empty the bag, do not use a bagless vacuum
What do stink bugs look like?
The invasive Brown marmorated stink bugs reproduce through mating and able to create up to 3 generations per year depending on their habitat. There will be more new bugs in warm zones as compared to cooler zones.
Female ones lay barrel-shaped light green eggs which they attach on leaves and stems. After 4 to 5 days, the eggs hatch into nymphs which usually lack wings. After about a period of 2 weeks, the nymphs develop into adult stink bugs with the following characteristics:
- Mouth – sharp piercing mouthparts
- Antennae – straight antennae with light brown bands
- Shape – armored-looking shield shape
- Length – 12 to 17 mm long
- Color – mottled brown color
- Wings – dark bands on the front wings
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
It can be a great challenge to completely get rid of stink bugs without involving the service of pest control professional. According to okin.com, the most effective control for overwintering stink bugs is prevention. A number of ways for keeping stink bugs away outside and in your home include:
1. Block their entry ways
Cover your outdoor areas such as patios and porches with bug screens. Many insects are attracted to these areas especially when there is some light or source of heat. To prevent the bugs from entering your home, ensure you check and seal any cracks and open spaces in your windows and doors.
2. Cleanup your outdoors
Overgrown areas in a backyard usually attracts insects including stink bugs, mosquitoes and gnats. These are insects that will not give you some piece in your home. Mowing grass short, trimming thick bushes and shrubs will discourage bugs.
3. Use bug repellents
Natural scents such as eucalyptus, mint or garlic effectively repel insects. You can create a mixture of one of the natural essential oil with some water and spray around your outdoor spaces, on windows and doors.
4. Vacuum them up
If you find stink bugs in your living areas both indoors and outdoors, use a bagged vacuum to suck them up and dispose them away into the trash can. Do this without disturbing them to avoid dealing with bad smell afterwards.
5. Set Stink Bug Traps
Bug traps are eco-friendly, safe and convenient for controlling insects. DEAD-INN stink bug trap is one popular trap used by USDA, State agencies and Universities in control of the Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The sticky trap need to be emptied and sometime be replaced when dealing with a large infestation.