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September 10, 2010

Return of the stink bugs


stink bugs
They're back! And in a very big way - 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.



Posted by Susan Reimer at 12:32 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Insects


We started seeing these guys a couple weeks ago in So. York County. They love to hitchhike on our dog and make their way into our house. Unlike cicadas, these guys are fast and have some level of coordination.

Keep flushing them down the toilet! I never had them over Dundalk but now i am in Catonsville and are an annual pest.

I like the stinkbugs by the vegetable garden on campus. They walk around like little families, it's cute.

I live in york,pa and we got them bad. I see them and kill them all day in my house. It drives me crazy cause my daughters always screaming " theres a bug". She acts like their gonna kill her. Last year at this time i killed like 40 of them in her room. They came in through the air conditioner. I know they wont hurt us but it gets on my nerves.

I learned the hard way that insect spray does'nt work. I covered the bugs with spray until the foam covered them; they rubbed their legs and wings,raised their antennae and seemed to nap for a few seconds while I coughed then continued about their business. I'm glad to know they are harmless if not they just might... TAKE OVER THE WORLD" !!!

Wow. Totallly scary!--Susan

We've had these insects for several years now. I just never took the time to find out what they are. Ours are mostly on the north side of the house and cling to the screens. Vaguely remind me of myself - small head, big body. Cut them some slack, they're just trying to live (like the rest of us).

Way to go, Ruth!!!! -- Susan

ruth gets my "voice of sanity" award today.

Yup. -- Susan

Finally fed up with stink bugs and my kids freaking out, I think I found a solution for getting rid of them. I sprayed a bunch of them gathered around my door with a Target brand kitchen cleaner called Method "Antibac" It comes in a green bottle and contains Thymol which is a by product of thyme oil and lemon verbena. It costs about 2 dollars. it smeels a bit like bug spray which gave me the idea. As I sprayed them they fell to the ground and some ran for the hills. I dont know if it killed them or not, but it certainly made them all go away.

yep, i live in catawba county nc, and they are all over my house. the worst part about it is that, unlike your average bug, you cant just flick them away. the second you touch them, they cling to your skin. it is SO disgusting

Stink bugs are not harmless to humans.

Stink bugs can indeed "bite" or "sting" - they have a sharp, pointed proboscis that they use to pierce fruit and plants. This can and does easily pierce human skin, causing a painful puncture wound. In addition, they inject their digestive juices into the wound, along with other contaminants found on their proboscis.

Stink bug web-sites document hundreds of reports of such bites. The reason that there are not more reports of stings is that people do not tend to handle them much - they usually knock them into killing jars or spray them with chemicals. And the sting seems to be a feeding action, not a defensive one.

A Google search of "stink bug" and "bite" yields 15,000 hits.

Why are there so many stink bugs???

This question was KILLING ME for the longest time. It did not make any sense, when there were so few stink bugs the year before.

Then it hit me. The answer: BATS!!! THERE ARE SO FEW BATS IN THE NORTHEAST!!! Bats are one of stink bugs greatest predators. A single bat can eat 300+ stink bugs in a single night.

White Nose Syndrome has killed millions of bats in the Northeast, with mortality rate of 80-100% in colonies and the disease/fungus spreading South and West in recent years.

With a depleted bat population you have a stink bug population that is spiraling out of control. Their natural predators are now endangered, so these insects can now reproduce without the same limiting factors.

If bats go extinct in North America, we are in trouble. Our crops and homes will be infested with stink bugs and other insects.


Wow, Albert. Never made the connection between bats and stink bugs. Doesn't that mean we will be in mosquito hell, too? -- Susan

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About Susan Reimer
Susan Reimer has spent 16 years writing about raising kids - among other topics - in her column for The Baltimore Sun. And every time son Joseph or daughter Jessie passed another milestone - driver's license, college, wedding or a move to a new military duty station - she has planted another garden. Now she will be writing about those gardens - and yours - here on Garden Variety.

Susan isn't an expert gardener, but she wasn't an expert mother, either. Both - the kids and the gardens - seem to be doing well in spite of her.

She lives in Annapolis with her husband, Gary Mihoces, who loves to cut his grass but has noticed that there seems to be less of it every time the kids pass another milestone.

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