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Stink Bugs: Unwelcome Fall Guests

Stink Bugs: Unwelcome Fall Guests

AUBURN, Ala. – While many welcome the cooler weather associated with fall, with it comes unwelcome guests: stink bugs. These noisy bugs, known for their pungent smell, enter many homes in the fall looking for a place to spend the winter. An Extension specialist offers tips and control methods to battle stink bugs.

Dr. Xing Ping Hu, an Alabama Extension entomologist, said that while annoying, these bugs are not harmful to humans.

“Stink bugs do not bite, do not sting, do not pose serious property or safety threats,” Hu said. “However, their tendency to enter homes or cover your house in high numbers can be an odoriferous nuisance and disaster.”

Houses that are not properly sealed are major targets for these pests. Once inside, they look for any place they can hide in the cracks of the house and the walls.

Fall Invaders

In Alabama, the kudzu bugs and the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) are the stink bugs commonly seen.

Kudzu bug adults are 3.5 to 6 mm long, oblong, olive-green colored with brown speckles. Their primary hosts are kudzu vine and soybeans.

Kudzu Bug

Hu said that kudzu bugs migrate from host plants to overwintering sites later in the fall.

“If you have wild kudzu patches near your property, you are most likely to have these bugs. You may find them resting or even feeding on a variety of landscape and garden plants,” Hu said. “Because they enter homes, they will eventually die inside homes. You commonly see them overwinter under barks of trees and fallen logs, in leaf piles and mulches.”

Brown marmorated stink bugs are 16-18 mm long and have shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surface. They feed on fluid from a wide variety of plants. People that grow garden plants and fruit trees are most likely to have these bugs.

According to Hu, like the kudzu bug, brown marmorated stink bugs overwinter under tree barks and sheltered places. Oak and locust trees seem to be their favorite overwintering sites.

Keep Stink Bugs Out

Hu said that one way to prevent stink bugs from entering a house it to seal off any entry points.

“Spending time inspecting the outside of your home for easy access points is a worthy effort of prevention,” Hu said. “Pay attention to areas around siding and utility pipes, underneath the wood fascia and other openings. Caulk and seal any cracks and holes using a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk.”

Additionally, Hu offers the following tips for preventing stink bugs.

  • Place screening over chimney and attic vents.
  • Install door sweeps.
  • Replace and repair damaged screens on windows and doors, as well as torn weather stripping and loose mortar.
  • Check to make sure soffit, ridge and gable vents are property screened.
  • Stuff steel wool into openings where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations.
  • Check for leaking pipes and clogged drains. Reducing moisture sites can help prevent many pest infestations.
  • Properly manage your landscape. Leave no harboring sites for stink bugs around your house.

Suggestions for Control

Because of the odor they release, crushing stink bugs becomes a problem. Hu suggests not touching or crushing them but instead grab them gently with a plastic bag to avoid the bad smell.

Hu said that using a vacuum can also assist in the removal of stink bugs.

“After using the vacuum, dispose of the vacuum bag or soak the bag in hot, soapy water immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area,” Hu said. “Dead stink bugs leave a residue inside the bag that can stink up your home.”

Homeowners may also apply insecticide on the home exterior where the bugs land, seeking entry-points. The insecticides must be labeled for nuisance insect control outdoors.

More Information

For more information on stink bugs, visit Alabama Extension online at www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.


Featured Image: Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

In Text Image: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org



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