Ever step on a strange-looking bug, only to be surprised by a stinky odor in the air? You probably encountered a stink bug, very likely the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. It was not until the early 2000’s that the bugs started to pop up in most Mid-Atlantic states, after they were first discovered invading homes in Pennsylvania in the 1990’s. Now the bug can be found in at least 43 states across the country.
Where did the BMSB come from, and how did it get here? It turns out the bugs are native to Japan, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, and made their way to the states, Canada, and even Western Europe by way of shipping containers. Their presence in the U.S. has caused quite an impact, and not just in a stinky way. They have seriously impacted the growth of several crops, including soybean, corn, wheat, tomato, peppers, beans, squash, pecan, and many fruits. They also harbor in and feed on several common plants and trees we encounter every day. They puncture the trunks of trees to feed, emitting sap, which then entices nuisance ants and wasps.
It is a vicious cycle by a seemingly harmless bug, considering most calls into Pest Control Professionals involve overwintering infestations of stink bugs inside the home. However, as noted above, their impact is agriculturally devastating. Their negative influence may even go beyond that. While the BMSB does not bite humans, studies have recently found that these bugs may be airborne allergens to humans, causing irritation and inflammation of the eyes and nose.
The best methods for prevention are sealing off any cracks and openings during the summer, before they start to search for their homes going into the colder months. It is especially important to ensure your window or door screens do not have any holes, and have the proper wiring. 50% of stink bugs in a study were found to be able to make their way through 1/4-inch mesh openings. 100% can make it through 1/2-inch openings. Sealing or removing window air conditioners is imperative to keep them out of your home as well. Make sure to do your part if you want to keep the “stink” out of your home!
Source: PCT Magazine June 2017 Issue: Alien Invasion! By Michael F. Potter and Ric Bessin