Stink bugs are large, oval or shield-shaped insects found throughout the United States. They get their common name from the odor of the chemical that they produce in glands on their abdomen, possibly as a defense against predators. Stink bugs are primarily crop pests, damaging fruit and fruit trees. They can become a nuisance pest for homeowners when they enter homes in the fall looking for warmth. Stink bugs are attracted to the south-side of structures on warm fall days in search of protected, overwintering sites and can enter homes in large numbers.
Stink Bug Habitat
In the wild, stink bug adults spend the winter months in cracks or under the peeling bark of older or dead trees. In early autumn, stink bugs look for wintering sites. Outdoors, they can often be found on the outsides of buildings, in leaf litter and vegetation. When brown marmorated stink bugs enter homes, they congregate near doors, windows, and other entry points. They seek out narrow spaces to hide, preferring high and cool locations. Stink bugs can be found in cracks under or behind baseboards, around window and door trim, and around exhaust fans or lights in ceilings. In the spring, adults move from overwintering sites to host plants.
Stink Bug Behaviors, Threats or Dangers
Stink bugs do not bite or sting and are not harmful to people, houses, or pets. While the insects are not dangerous, they are noisy and notorious for their pungent smell. Homeowners are sometimes alarmed when stink bugs enter homes in large numbers. Although stink bugs will not reproduce or cause damage inside structures, they will emit a pungent odor when crushed or disturbed and can stain surfaces.
Stink Bug Prevention
Overwintering pests, like stink bugs, are best controlled through preventative efforts. Exclusion is key and should be avoided during months when insects may have entered walls. Repair torn screens, install weatherstripping, and seal any cracks or crevices around foundations, vents, doors, and pipes with a silicone-based caulk. Stink bugs that enter the home should never be crushed, and may be controlled by sweeping or vacuuming. When finished, place the vacuum bag in a sealed trash bin or receptacle.
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