During the winter months, stink bugs go into diapause – a hibernation-like state in which they remain inactive and don’t eat. They gather in leaf bundles, hollow logs, and other insulated areas until spring. That is unless they find a nice quiet spot in your attic or basement instead.
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) as it is scientifically known, is an invasive species from Eastern Asia. If possible, they will invade your home in the fall and winter months rather than brave the outside elements. They’re named for the cilantro-like chemical odor they emit when threatened or squished. How do you avoid the calamity of a stink bug infestation? Read on and we’ll give you a good whiff of the preventative measures.
What are Stink Bugs?
Stink bugs are an odiferous insect native to China, Japan and Korea. They were first discovered in America in Pennsylvania during the 1990s but not properly identified until 2001. They are most common in the northeast and along the Atlantic coast but have since spread to nearly every state.
Stink bugs aren’t dangerous to humans, but they are a nuisance due to the odor they emit when threatened or attacked. Swarms of stink bugs are an agricultural threat. They can cause significant damage to food crops, especially fruit, berries and beans which are favored food sources.
Their name comes from the odor they emit as a natural defense against predators. They have a small gland beneath their thorax that produces a chemical spray that smells like cilantro and rotten vegetables. Stink bugs can spray this substance only a few inches but the effect is more than noticeable.
What Do Stink Bugs Look Like?
Stink bugs are small ¾” beetle-like insects. Thy are grayish brown in color with hints of red or dark green. Their bodies are triangular, or shield-shaped with wings folded over the top on adults. They have antennae with light bands and often have a light band around the edge of their abdomen.
An adult female will lay 20-30 eggs in the spring which hatch into tiny yellow and red colored nymphs with red eyes. These nymphs will molt or shed their skin five times before becoming winged adults. During each molt the nymphs become larger and grayer. In their early stages the nymphs look similar to lady bugs.
How to Prevent Stink Bug Infestation in Your Home
Fall and winter are the seasons when stink bugs look to your home as a potential shelter for their diapause. They enter through cracks, windows, doors and vents and often hide in quiet places like attics and basements. They will often seek out the sunny side of your home to soak in solar warmth.
Allowing a few stink bugs into your home may not seem like a big deal but the problem is they communicate their findings to others. Stink bugs emit a pheromone, unrelated to their stink gland, that attracts others to them. Think of it as beacon that lets others know there is safe shelter available.
To intercept this beacon and prevent stink bugs from entering your home all year long, identify and seal access points. Repair any torn screens and use a silicone caulking to close cracks:
· In your foundation
· Around doors and windows
· On chimneys
· Along vents
· Around utility pipes and electrical
Stink bugs are attracted to white lights. You can minimize your visibility to them by closing shades and curtains at night and using yellow bulbs in outdoor lights.
Though stink bugs don’t eat during their winter hibernation, they may initially be attracted to food in your home. Keep food containers sealed and garbage covered to minimize attraction.
If you do discover stink bugs in your home, don’t attack them lest you unleash their pungent wrath. The easiest way to remove stink bugs is by vacuuming them up. Ideally use a vacuum with a bag you can remove and dispose of afterward.
The good news is that stink bugs don’t reproduce during the winter months and most likely won’t do it in your home. They’ll hunker down until spring and then leave to find a mate.
Get Expert Help to Keep Stink Bugs Out of Your Home or Business
Do you have questions about stink bugs? Need help getting a stink bug infestation out of your home or business? Get in touch with Plunkett’s today! Let our expert technicians remove stink bugs from your home, 100 per-scent!