• Stink-Bugs

    Stink bugs are making a nuisance of themselves throughout the south.  Our preferred method of execution is the vaccum cleaner, but many people are more creative.  Here is a condensed article telling more than you ever wanted to know about stink bugs:


    The stink bug most commonly making a pest of itself in North Carolina is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug or  Halyomorpha halys.The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an insect not previously seen on our continent, was apparently accidentally introduced into eastern Pennsylvania. It was first collected in September of 1998 in Allentown, but probably arrived several years earlier. This true bug in the insect family Pentatomidae is known as an agricultural pest in its native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Recently, the BMSB has become a serious pests of fruit, vegetables and farm crops in the Mid-Atlantic region and it is probable that it will become a pest of these commodities in other areas in the United States. Stink bugs become a nuisance pest both indoors and out when they  are attracted to the outside of houses on warm fall days in search of protected, overwintering sites. BMSB occasionally reappears during warmer sunny periods throughout the winter, and again as it emerges in the spring.


    Adults are approximately 17 mm long (25 mm = one inch) and are shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surfaces. They are the typical “shield” shape of other stink bugs, almost as wide as they are long. To distinguish them from other stink bugs, look for lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the membranous, overlapping part at the rear of the front pair of wings. They have patches of coppery or bluish-metallic colored puntures (small rounded depressions) on the head and pronotum. The name “stink bug” refers to the scent glands located on the dorsal surface of the abdomen and the underside of the thorax.

    . The eyes are a deep red. The abdomen is a yellowish red in the first instar and progresses to off-white with reddish spots in the fifth instar. Protuberances are found before each of the abdominal scent glands on the dorsal surface. The legs, head and thorax are black. Spines are located on the femur, before each eye, and several on the lateral margins of the thorax.


    Life History

    This species probably has a single generation per year in cooler states depending on the temperatures.  Warm spring and summer conditions of North Carolina could permit the development of two or three generations.  However, in parts of sub-tropical China, records indicate from four to possibly six generations per year. Adults will emerge sometime in the spring of the year (late April to mid-May), and mate and deposit eggs from May through August. The eggs hatch into small black and red nymphs that go through five molts. Adults begin to search for overwintering sites starting in September through the first half of October. The eggs of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug are often laid on the underside of leaves and a light green in color. They are elliptical in shape and are often deposited in a mass of approximately 28 eggs.

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    Stink bugs do not prefer to bite people. In fact, most species of stink bugs feed on plants. They suck the juice from leaves, stems, and roots of plants. They attack everything from ornamental plants to weeds. The insects pierce the skin of the plant and extract the juice inside. These plant-feeding stink bugs also attack seeds, nuts and fruit. They attack peaches, apples, tomatoes, green peppers, soybeans and pecans. They have even been found feeding on developing cotton. Stink bugs can be serious pests in farms, gardens and orchards. In its native range, it feeds on a wide variety of host plants. Fruits attacked include apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits and persimmons. This true bug has also been reported on many ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans and beans for human consumption. Feeding on tree fruits such as apple results in a characteristic distortion referred to as “cat facing,” that renders the fruit unmarketable as a fresh product.



    This insect is becoming an important agricultural pest in Pennsylvania. In 2010, it produced severe losses in some apple and peach orchards by damaging peaches and apples.  It also has been found feeding on blackberry, sweet corn, field corn and soybeans.  In neighboring states it has been observed damaging tomatoes, lima beans and green peppers.

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    These insects are not known to cause harm to humans, although homeowners become alarmed when the bugs enter their homes and noisily fly about.  The stink bug will not reproduce inside structures or cause damages.  If many of them are squashed or pulled into a vacuum cleaner, their smell can be quite apparent.


    Management For Stink bugs In Homes

    Before Bugs Enter a Building

    Mechanical exclusion is the best method to keep stink bugs from entering homes and buildings. Cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath the wood fascia and other openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Damaged screens on doors and windows should be repaired or replaced.

    Exterior applications of insecticides may offer some minor relief from infestations where the task of completely sealing the exterior is difficult or impossible. Applications should consist of a synthetic pyrethroid (i.e. bifentrin, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, sumithrin or tralomethrin) or a neonicotinoid (dinotefuran) and should be applied by a licensed pest control operator in the fall just prior to bug congregation. Unfortunately, because insecticides are broken down by sunlight, the residual effect of the material will be greatly decreased and may not kill the insects much beyond several days or a week.

    After Stink Bugs Have Entered the Structure:


    How to Kill a Stink Bug

    Killing a stink bug can be a messy, unpleasant matter since many methods will cause the bug to release an extremely pungent odor. Soapy water is one of the least messy and most effective methods to use, but other organic and chemical pesticides also exist. You can also exterminate the insects using more physical methods. They appear to be attracted by light and light colors like the white of ceilings or yellow. Here’s what you should know about killing stink bugs.

    Soapy water in a jar

    Fill a jar with water and dish detergent. Add enough liquid dish soap to the jar to cover the bottom. Fill half of the jar with warm water and stir to mix. Any liquid dish soap will work, regardless of how mild it is or what additional chemicals it may contain.The right size container will depend on how many stink bugs you intend to capture. A small custard cup or ramekin is enough if you only plan on killing a few of the pests, but a larger jar or small bucket should be used if you plan on taking care of a major infestation all at once. Knock the stink bug into the jar. When you come across a stink bug, flick it off its post with a popsicle stick or chopstick and down into the soapy solution. Work quickly. Some species of stink bugs can fly and may escape if you do not manage to flick it off in one fell swoop. Stink bugs should drown within 20 to 40 seconds. The bugs breathe through pores beneath their waxy exterior shells, and when soap plugs these pores up, the bugs suffocate. You could also wear disposable gloves and pick up the stink bugs by hand. Similarly, you could pick them up with tweezers. Picking them up directly ensures that they will not be able to escape, but they may release their odor if you do not work quickly. Flush the dead bugs. After you collect a few stink bugs in your soapy water, flush the contents of the jar down the toilet to dispose of the bugs and the dirty water.

    A dish of soapy water can also be placed under a light bulb and many bugs may drown themselves.

    Soapy water spray

    Fill a spray bottle with soapy water. Combine 32 oz (1 liter) of warm water with 3/4 cup (180 ml) liquid dish detergent. As before, any liquid dish detergent will work regardless of potency or added chemicals.Shake the bottle well to make sure that the soap and water are combined.


    Spray the solution on bugs and along cracks. Douse any bugs you cannot knock down with the spray and apply the solution along any area you suspect the stink bugs might come in through. Even though this does not work as quickly as drowning the insects does, the soap with react with the waxy coating on the exterior of the stink bug, breaking that coating down and ultimately dehydrating the pest.Stink bugs usually sneak in through cracks, windows, doors, and vents. Spray a heavy coating of this solution around those areas so that invading stink bugs will walk through it and eventually die.



    Common household Solutions

    1.  Hair spray can be used to paralyze the bugs.   It will not kill them but stop them for easier removal.

    2.  Kill the bugs with rubbing alcohol, bleach, or ammonia. Fill a glass jar halfway with one of these chemicals and knock or drop the stink bugs into the jar as you come across them. Do not mix these chemicals for any reason. Combining these chemicals can produce fumes that are deadly to humans.Knock the stink bugs into the solution using a popsicle stick or gloved hand, or pick the bugs up with tweezers. You could also dilute one part rubbing alcohol with three parts water inside a spray bottle. Attack stink bugs with this solution as you see them. The alcohol will wear away at the exterior of the insect, drying it out and eventually destroying it.

    3.  Kill the bug with wart remover or hot sauce Buy a can of freeze away wart remover and spray it directly on the stink bug. The bug will freeze instantly and all you need to do is flush them down the toilet. Spray the stink bug with hot sauce. Fill a spray bottle with hot sauce or liquified hot peppers. Squirt each stink bug with the spicy insecticide as you see it. Hot peppers are capable of burning human skin and eyes if handled improperly. Similarly, the peppers can burn away the waxy exterior of the stink bug, ultimately destroying it. Wash your hands after handling hot peppers and hot sauce to avoid accidentally irritating your eyes.

    4.  Use white vinegar. Place a tablespoonful / teaspoonful of white vinegar in a container; use a container that is not too large. Capture the stink bug using tweezers, an empty medicine container with cap, and/or use gloves.Put the bug or bugs into the vinegar. They die immediately without releasing their bomb.Flush the critters down the toilet.


    Physical extermination

    1.  Vacuum the stink bug up. When you see one or more stink bugs, suck them up using an upright vacuum with a bag. The stink bugs will release their odor inside the vacuum, causing the machine to stink for several weeks. Sprinkle the interior of the vacuum with a strong deodorizer to minimize this effect.Avoid using bagless vacuum cleaners. Use vacuums with bags and dispose of the bag after you finish sucking up the bugs.Alternatively, wrap a knee-high stocking around the outside of the vacuum tube and secure it in place with a rubber band. Stuff the rest of the stocking into the tube and suck the stink bugs up as usual. This will prevent the bugs from passing through the vacuum filter.


    2.  Set up an insect electrocution system. Place a bug zapper in a dark attic or closet. Like most insects, stink bugs are drawn to sources of light. By placing the device in a dark room, the light of the electrocution system becomes more appealing to the stink bugs. As they approach the light, they are instantly electrocuted and die before they have the chance to release their stink.Make sure that you sweep up or vacuum up the dead stink bugs after several days pass.


    3.  Lay out glue traps. Spread fly paper or other sticky traps near windows, doorways, vents, and cracks. The stink bugs will get caught on the traps as they pass over them. Without being able to search out food, the insects will starve to death. Throw out the glue trap after you have gathered several stink bugs.Be aware of the fact that stink bugs may release their odor upon becoming stuck to the trap.


    Traditional pesticides

    Be aware of the risks. While traditional insecticides may kill stink bugs, there are health risks and other potentially negative consequences involved. Insecticides are poisonous to humans and pets as well as stink bugs. Keep them out of reach of small children and pets, and strictly follow the application instructions on the label. Residual dust treatments can kill many stink bugs, but the bugs may die in hard-to-reach places as a result of the delayed effect. Carpet beetles and other pests may invade your home to feed on the dead bugs afterward. Aerosol foggers will kill stink bugs, but the effect only lasts for a limited amount of time, and any stink bugs that enter the area after the room is aired out will not be killed. Only use insecticides that are labeled to kill stink bugs. Otherwise, you run the risk of choosing a chemical that is not effective against these particular pests.

    Spray the stink bug as you see it. Use a “kills on contact” aerosol insecticide to attack stink bugs as you see them. Understand that “on contact” is not necessarily as instantaneous as the term would imply. These chemicals usually begin to attack the stink bug’s nervous system after they dry, but it could take several hours.

    Apply residual insecticides. Following label instructions, sprinkle or spray the product in any area you suspect the stink bugs to be hiding in. Residual sprays tend to work best when sprayed along window sills, doorways, and baseboards. Residual dusts tend to work better when dusting the attic, crawl spaces, or interior wall space.

    Use a perimeter insecticide outdoors. Spray an outdoor residual pesticide along the ground around your home’s foundation. Stink bugs always invade from the outdoors, so any stink bug entering your home for the first time will be affected and killed.

    Use a nicotine solution. Soak a pack of shredded cigarettes in 1 gallon (4 liters) of warm water. Strain the solution and mix in 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of dish detergent. Fill a spray bottle with this solution and thoroughly coat the stink bug with it. The liquid dish detergent allows the solution to stick to the insect more effectively, and the nicotine poisons the stink bug. Wear disposable gloves as you work with the nicotine solution to avoid accidentally absorbing the poison through your skin.

    If numerous bugs are entering the living areas of the home, attempt to locate the openings where the insects gain access. Typically, stink bugs will emerge from cracks under or behind baseboards, around window and door trim, and around exhaust fans or lights in ceilings. Seal these openings with caulk or other suitable materials to prevent the insects from crawling out. Both live and dead stink bugs can be removed from interior areas with the aid of a vacuum cleaner – however, the vacuum may acquire the smell of stink bugs for a period of time.

    It is not advisable to use an insecticide inside after the insects have gained access to the wall voids or attic areas. Although insecticidal dust treatments to these voids may kill hundreds of bugs, there is the possibility that carpet beetles will feed on the dead stink bugs and subsequently attack woolens, stored dry goods or other natural products in the home. Although aerosol-type pyrethrum foggers will kill stink bugs that have amassed on ceilings and walls in living areas, it will not prevent more of the insects from emerging shortly after the room is aerated. For this reason use of these materials is not considered a good solution to long-term management of the problem. Spray insecticides, directed into cracks and crevices, will not prevent the bugs from emerging and is not a viable or recommended treatment.



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Amanda Welborn

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