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Stink Bugs – A Smelly Nuisance

European stink bug, Rhaphigaster nebulosa, in front of white background

The brown marmorated stink bug isn’t native to North America. It was first seen in Allentown, Pennsylvania in September of 1998, but it is believed that it was introduced into the country many years earlier. This insect is native to Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea and is an agricultural pest which has quickly spread through the states. Vegetables, farm crops and fruit are susceptible to damage from this bug and the insects will gladly take up residence anywhere it is warm and sunny.

Stink bugs aren’t very big, measuring only 3/4 of an inch on average when they are an adult. The bugs are typically brown and tend to be as wide as they are long. The brown marmorated stink bug has lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the rear portion of the front wings. Scent glands located on the underside of the thorax and dorsal surface of the abdomen give these bugs their name.

The insects can severely damage crops in a short period of time. They aren’t harmful to humans, but do tend to produce a great deal of noise. The smell that arises when a number of these bugs are squashed or vacuumed is what concerns most home owners. Here is how to get rid of these critters.

If the insects have made their way into your home, you want to know how to get rid of stink bugs quickly. The first thing is prevent the bugs from entering. This way, when you rid the home of the stink bugs, they won’t appear again. Fill any cracks and entrances into the home with silicone or silicone-latex caulk. If screens on doors or windows are damaged, repair or replace them.

Exterior insecticides may be of assistance if the crack or opening where the bugs are entering cannot be located. Look for a pest control company which makes use of a pesticide containing synthetic pyrethroids. The pesticide should be used in the fall before bugs begin to congregate around the home. The pesticides do break down when exposed to sunlight so they will only kill the bugs for a short period of time.

Once bugs have entered the home, a vacuum cleaner is the best way to remove them, but the smell may linger in the vacuum. When using a vacuum to remove the bugs, it is best to put a knee-high stocking over the end of the vacuum tube. Secure the stocking with a rubber band and stuff it into the tube. This prevents the bugs from getting into the vacuum filter so the smell is reduced or eliminated. After vacuuming, kill the bugs using a solution of one-fourth gallon water and one teaspoon liquid soap.

Sealing cracks within the home, such as those around ceiling fixtures and exhaust fans, will trap the bugs also. Never squish the bugs as this releases the smell. If it is cold outside, you can also gently pick the bugs up with a plastic bag or piece of paper and carry them outside where they will freeze. Be aware that room foggers aren’t beneficial when dealing with stink bugs. They will kill any bugs that can be seen, but more will emerge shortly after the room has aired out.

A pest control company can be of great assistance in stink bug control. Don’t hesitate to look for outside professional help. Prevention remains the best method and a good pest control company will work with you to set up an effective reduction program.