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Commercial Horticulture > Comm Hort Blog > Posts > Pest of the fall - Stink bug set for home invasion

It is that time of year again for football games and cool and crisp air, watching color- changing leaves, smelling aromatic tea-olive flowers and fruits, enjoying pumpkins and harvesting. However, fall is also the time for unwelcome stink bugs invading homes.

Stink bugs are creepy, noisy and notorious for their pungent smell. They enter homes in the fall seeking place to overwinter.

Stink bugs do not bite, do not sting, do NOT pose serious property or safety threats. However, their tendency to enter homes or cover your house in high numbers can be an odoriferous nuisance and disaster. They emit an unpleasant odor that can be hard to get out of your nose, your furniture, your carpet, etc. Crushing the bugs thus becomes a problem, as they emit an unpleasant odor and may stain the surface they are crushed upon.

They enter homes that are not properly sealed. Once inside they will get in the cracks of your house, get in your wall, and anywhere they can hide.

Problematic stink bugs commonly seen in Alabama consist of kudzu bugs and the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). Other fall invaders that can be stinkers are the Asian lady beetles and boxelder bugs.

Kudzu bugs and the BMSB are both exotic invaders from Asia.

Kudzu bugs adults are 3.5 to 6 mm long, oblong, olive-green colored with brown speckles. Their primary hosts are kudzu vine and soybean crop. They migrate from host plants to overwintering sites in later fall. If you have wild kudzu patches near your property, you are most likely to have this bugs. You may find them resting or even feeding on a verity of landscape and garden plants. This is their effort to get all the nuisance they need preparing for overwinter. They overwinter sites include any crack or crevice where a group of bugs can aggregate. Gaps under the bark of trees, gaps under the siding of homes, high places (such as the fascia boards and gutters on the edges of homes), and leaf litters are only a few examples of overwintering sites.

The brown marmorated stink bugs are 16-18 mm long, shades of brown on both upper and lower body surface, with shield shape like other stink bugs. BMSB are not a picky eater, but suck fluid from a wide variety of host plants, including many tree fruits, vegetable fruits, and crops. If you grow garden plants and fruit trees, you are most likely to have this bugs. Like kudzu bugs, they overwinter under tree barks, sheltered and protected places. Oak and locust trees seem to be their favorite overwintering sites. Photo credit of Brown Marmorated Stinkbug, Home Team Pest.

Advices to keep smelly stink bugs at bay

  1. Seal off any entry points. As for any invaders, stink bugs can only enter your home through entries. Spending time on inspecting the outside of your home for easy access point is a worthy effort of prevention. Pay close attention to areas around siding and utility pipes, underneath the wood fascia or other openings. Caulk and seal any cracks and holes using a good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk.
  2. Place screening over chimney and attic vents.
  3. Install door sweeps.
  4. Replace and repair damaged screen on window s or doors, as well as torn weather- stripping and loose mortar. Stink bugs can get in home through tiny openings.
  5. Check to make sure soffit, ridge, and gavel vents are property screened.
  6. Stuff steel wool into openings where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations.
  7. Check for leaking pipes and clogged drains. Reduce moisture sites can help prevent many pest infestations.
  8. Last but not the least: properly manage landscape, leave no harboring sites for stink bugs around your house.

Suggestions for control

  1. Do not touch nor crush but grab them gently with a plastic bag to avoid bad smell
  2. Use a vacuum for their removal. Dispose of the vacuum bag or soak the bag in hot soapy water immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area, as dead stink bugs leave a residue inside the bag that can stink up your home. A stocking or pantyhose placed in the vacuum tube and secured to the end of the tube with a rubber band can help by catching the insects before they reach the motor of the vacuum.
  3. Homeowners may also apply insecticide on the exterior home where the bugs land on seeking entry-points. The insecticides must be labeled for nuisance insect control outdoors.

Xing Ping Hu 

Entomology Professor/Specialist


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