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Stink Bugs On The Move And Inside Your House

Creepy critters looking for a warm place to spend the winter

They’re ugly, they’re creepy, and they’re breaking into your house any way they can.

Stink bugs.

As October’s nighttime temperatures fall off their summer highs, the pre-historic-looking pest that was first discovered in the U.S. in the late 1990s is on the move, looking for warm places to spend the winter.

And mainly, that’s inside your house.

“They’re just so gross,’’ said horticulturalist Diane Larson, of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County. “They’re ugly, but they’re harmless.’’

Larson said this is the time of year that the brown marmorated stink bug looks for warmer places for the winter. They are one of the few insects that spend the winter as adults, not larvae, and they’re particularly good at finding ways inside your house, Larsen said.

“They will find any little crack that’s available,’’ Larson said.

Once inside, they really don’t do much, however. Larson said the stink bug causes no harm, does not nest or reproduce once inside, and eats nothing. If crushed, however, the bug emits a foul odor, hence its name.

“They just kind of shut down,” Larson said. “They slow down and they don’t really move and they don’t eat. They get moving again in the heat.”

While a nuisance to homeowners, the stink bug is becoming an economic pest to farmers. The bugs eat a wide variety of crops.

“No other pest we know of has that broad a range of what it will feed on,” Dean Polk, coordinator of Rutgers’ fruit Integrated Pest Management program, has said.

Reports of stink bug infestation this year are lower than they have been in three years. Researchers, however, don’t know why, Larson said.

In the U.S., stink bugs are concentrated mostly in the Mid-Atlantic states, including New Jersey, according to a recent national survey. But the invasive species has now spread to 38 states, including California and Oregon, according to USDA-funded research.

The brown marmorated stink bug is native to Asia and was first discovered in the U.S. in 1996 and in New Jersey three years later.

The best homeowner’s defense against stink bugs is a good offense, according to literature from the Rutgers Cooperative extension. A little caulk around windows and doors can go a long way to keeping out the little critters. Removing window air conditioning units is a must, Larson said.

The bugs don’t sting, so removal by hand is an option, once you find them inside the house. The business end of a vacuum also is effective, Larson said.

Jeff R October 06, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Prevention is definitely the cure. I've also had to screen my chimney because they liked to hide in there. Also, spraying all of the edges of the house as well as the soffits and around lights with a long lasting pesticide (I have a couple that have worked well) has kept them from getting in and dive bombing us all winter and spring.
Willa Dios October 23, 2012 at 06:09 PM
The chimney in my house was the biggest culprit. I DID spray the exterior edges of the doors and windows and I STILL had tons of them. For the life of me, I could not understand where they were getting in, until one day I was sitting on the sofa and saw one after the other fly from the hearth towards the big picture window in my house. I sprayed the bejesus out of the inside of the fireplace and they were GONE. I am a true bugaphobe. That's my photo next to the dictionary's description (ha), so for me, it's like tiny monsters getting in ... and the damn things FLY, no less. I've seen three in the house this week, but that is NOTHING compared to last year's invasion of more than 25 a day. The cure is probably worst than the pests, I dare say, because who really wants toxic bug spray all over their home? And as for the odorless pesticides, well, I myself prefer to be able to smell things that could affect my health....

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