Stink bugs arrived in Ohio only recently, but it already feels like they’ve been here for an eternity. The stinky insect has quickly become one of the most prevalent nuisance pests bothering households all over the state. We get calls about stink bugs sneaking into basements and attics every autumn, and this year is no exception.
Stink bugs tend to be particularly upsetting to our clients, and we understand why. Besides the obvious freakiness and stinkiness, most people don’t know much about them. When it comes to bugs, nothing is scarier than the unknown–especially when that unknown is in your house! Luckily, however, you don’t have to let this particular stinky pest keep being an unknown. Here are answers to all the most common stink bugs questions we hear on the job.
What Are Stink Bugs?
The stink bug we’re dealing with in Ohio is known as the brown marmorated stink bug, or Halyomorpha halys. Brown marmorated stink bugs are around ⅝ inches long and ⅜ inches wide. They have three pairs of legs, red eyes, and medium-length, banded antennae. It can be most easily identified by its shield-like shape and brown coloration.
Brown marmorated stink bugs have a marbled pattern on their backs. Their sides and back may also have dense, groove-like puncture marks and grey, tan, or bluish spotted markings. They’re also are the only species of stink bug with light-and-dark alternating patterns on the upper segments of their antennae.
Where Did They Come From?
Stink bugs are originally native to southeast Asia. They were first discovered in the US in Allenstown, Pennsylvania in 1998. It’s hard to believe, but the first stink bugs in Ohio were discovered back in 2007! Most experts agree that the sneaky pest probably entered the US inside shipping containers from Southeast Asian countries.
Stink bug food sources in the US have no natural defense systems to keep the insect away. There are also very few natural stink bug predators in Ohio. Worst of all, the little stinkers are largely immune to the kinds of common pesticides that kill most other pest crops. The unprepared environment made it easy for stink bugs to multiply, expand, and become permanently established very quickly.
What Do They Want?
Stink bugs are primarily considered an agricultural pest. They feed on a wide variety of crops, fruit trees, and other plants. The bug has inflicted economically significant agricultural damage on farms since its introduction, especially in the eastern US.
For most households, however, stink bugs should only be considered nuisance pests. Although they don’t inflict structural damage or infest food products, they can invade homes in huge numbers. Stink bugs try to get into homes in autumn to find a place to keep warm during the winter. They’re attracted to the leaves of maple, ash, black locust, and catalpa trees. Large numbers may cluster near homes with these trees in their yards.
Are They Dangerous?
Not physically, no. Stink bugs can’t bite or sting, and they don’t spread disease. Stink bugs secrete a foul-smelling liquid from a specialized gland when threatened or crushed. This liquid has a light yellow or clear color and may smell like strong cilantro or coriander. It isn’t dangerous, but it could trigger mild allergic reactions.
Stink bugs may also stain furniture, carpeting, or other fabrics with the liquid they secrete, or with their droppings. Secretions from one stink bug won’t produce stains large enough to notice, but enough bugs secreting in a small space could.
How Do I Keep Them Out?
Like most wintering pests, stink bugs find their way into homes through cracks and gaps. Stink bugs’ bodies have surprisingly flat, almost coin-like bodies. Their slenderness allows them to squeeze through smaller openings than most homeowners would suspect.
The most common of these openings are gaps and cracks around windows. Replacing worn weatherstripping and re-sealing your windows this fall will go a long way toward keeping stink bugs out. Make sure the window frame seats correctly and you can’t feel a draft. Vents, chimneys, door frames, and worn foundations also provide ways for pests to sneak into your home. Caulk up or otherwise seal off openings as you find them, and replace worn-down insulation as needed.
As you can see, stink bugs aren’t quite as disruptive as most of Ohio’s other major pests. That won’t stop them from being a major pain, however–especially if they spend the winter with you. So don’t let them in. Get prepared now, and even the most tenacious stinker won’t beat the frost to you this year.
And remember, even if you do end up with stink bugs in your home, you’ve got us. Varment Guard’s experts know exactly how to kick the smelly insects out of your home and keep them out. We’ll make sure your winter doesn’t stink.BACK TO BLOG