Return of the stink bugs
"I don't want to be an alarmist," says Michael Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and the scientist behind the blog, "Bug of the Week."
"But the numbers are going to be through the roof. And a lot of homeowners are going to be screaming."
The brown marmorated stink bug looks like a small brown shield with legs and antennae. Raupp thinks the term "marmorated" comes from a Latin word meaning "marbled," a reference to the coloring on their abdomens. Each female can lay 400 eggs.
The Piedmont area of Maryland, which generally includes Carroll, Howard, Harford, Montgomery, Frederick, Allegany and Washington counties, is annually infected with the stink bug, which gets its name from the smell it emits when crushed.
"But they are everywhere this year," said Raupp, from the fruit orchards of Maryland, where they are destroying crops, to the vegetable gardens of homeowners, where they are rarely seen.
"Corn, soybeans, tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals," said Raupp. "They are the perfect pest. They will eat anything.
"If they sucked human blood, there would be a national outcry."
And, pretty soon, they'll be trying to get out of the cold and into your house.
Raupp predicted that when evening temperatures drop in two to three weeks, the stink bug will be seeking warmth through every crack and crevice around windows and doors.
"There is going to be a collective howl like we haven't heard since the cicadas invaded," said Raupp
Why are there so many stink bugs this year?
It isn't clear, said Raupp. It may have been the protective covering of last winter's heavy snow. It has been an amazing year for all kinds of insects, Raupp said. Some have even managed to produce an extra generation this summer.
How do you keep stink bugs out of the house and, perhaps more important, how do you get rid of them if they get in, without causing them to release their foul odor?
The National Pest Management Association suggests sealing cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys and underneath wood fascia with a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk.
If they are already in the home, use a vaccum cleaner to remove live or dead stink bugs, but dispose of the bag quickly.
And a licensed pest professional can provide other treatment options.