They don’t bite, they cause no known harm to humans, and they feed almost exclusively on plants. But don’t let that rather benign description fool you—if they get into your house, stink bugs can become a major problem. When squashed or threatened, they emit their terrible namesake smell. And with few natural predators, they’ve evolved into a nuisance in 45 states—including Ohio. – To learn more about treating stink bugs in the home, or about a general pest prevention system, call A-1 Able Pest Doctors at (800) 737-8189.
They don’t bite, they cause no known harm to humans, and they feed almost exclusively on plants. But don’t let that rather benign description fool you—if they get into your house, stink bugs can become a major problem. When squashed or threatened, they emit their terrible namesake smell. And with few natural predators, they’ve evolved into a nuisance in 45 states—including Ohio.
One species is especially troublesome: the brown marmorated stink bug, which can be identified by their nearly inch-long size and the brown, marbled pattern on their backs. This species, native to Asia, first appeared in the United States around 2000, likely hitchhiking a ride on cargo containers, and now follows an annual routine: feasting on plants and crops in the summer—leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses each year—and then finding a way to sneak into homes to stay warm through the fall and winter.
Once they find a cozy spot inside, stink bugs emit a pheromone that attracts others, and they can attract huge groups—one couple in the South Carolina foothills suffered an invasion of 26,000 stink bugs!
How do I know if I have a stink bug infestation or one just got into house?
Some entomologists believe 2020 will bring a particularly bad stink bug onslaught, due to a milder winter followed by a warmer summer in most of the Midwest. So keep your eyes open for signs of these unwelcome visitors around your home.
- Check your plants –In the summer, stink bugs can absolutely ravage plants, using their pierced mouths to devour flowers, leaves and fruits. They typically leave behind brown pits and spots and deformed and dying plants, so watch your outdoor plants or garden for the first sign of the assault to come.
- Look up –Stink bugs tend to congregate at the highest point of a home, so they’re often spotted at first on ceilings or high up on walls. They fall when startled—and indeed, many homeowners first notice them when they plop down on the couch.
- The nose knows –In addition to their trademark stench, the pheromones stink bugs emit once they’re in the house can also produce an unusual, distinctive scent. People with cockroach allergies may also notice their symptoms flaring up if stink bugs are in the home.
How do I get rid of stink bugs?
It’s imperative to be aware of a stink bug infestation early—if left unchecked, their numbers can overwhelm a home. They may invade your attic first, hibernating for a time before venturing throughout the rest of the home after the first of the year. Eliminating them isn’t easy, but it can be done.
- Rev up the vacuum—When it comes to trapping stink bugs, the vacuum can be your best friend. Since squashing them or even flushing them down the toilet can produce their horrid smell, hoovering them into a vacuum bag is a preferred option.
- Use the deep freeze—Since you don’t want to smash the trapped stink bugs, and you certainly don’t want to toss them back out into the yard, some experts advise sealing your vacuum bag and tossing it into the freezer, which will kill the bugs.
- Get creative—Since sprays don’t typically work on stink bugs, some victims have gotten creative: One Ohio State researcher even crafted a trap in which the bugs saw their reflection in an aluminum pan filled with water, and unwittingly drowned themselves.
How do I prevent a recurrence of stink bugs?
In late summer, your No. 1 mission is making sure stink bugs can’t get into the house. That means filling any cracks in siding, around utility boxes, and along windows with silicone caulk, repairing or replacing any torn window screens, and ensuring there’s no gap under your exterior doors. Stink bugs are also famous for getting in through the gaps around window unit air conditioners, so seal up those areas or consider removing the unit altogether.
Having your home checked regularly as part of a pest prevention program can help ensure that stink bugs or other pests don’t become a problem. Avoiding an infestation of stink bugs begins with a proactive inspection and regular treatment.
To learn more about treating stink bugs in the home, or about a general pest prevention system, call A-1 Able Pest Doctors at (800) 737-8189.
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