Although the end of autumn is typically when you’ll notice these pests become really active, it wouldn’t be entirely weird to see stink bugs at this time of year along with every other type of bug emerging from a long harsh winter. Rose Pest Control Chicago has noticed this in Lake County and along Chicago’s north shore. Prevalent on the east coast, stink bugs are making their way into our neighborhoods. But, why? Where do they even come from? Are stink bugs really stinky? Are they harmful? Can they bite? I’ll tell you the answers to those questions and more.

What does a stink bug look like?

Let’s start with the basics. This is a stink bug. Looks like it has some pretty tough armor, huh?

Brown marmorated stink bug resized 600

And here are its quick stats. Think of it like the skunk of the bug world. LOL!

stink bug flash card

Where do stink bugs come from?

The brown marmorated stink bug is an asian native. Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea are the stink bug’s originating countries. Believe it or not, stink bugs were first discovered in the United States in eastern Pennsylvania in 1998. They seemed to really like the northeast coast of the US for quite some years. They’re slowly invading more and more states though, moving into the midwest. Recently, Indiana and Illinois have seen populations climb from spring through fall months as they try to seek shelter in our homes.

Have you had any encounters with boxelder bugs before? Those are the black and red bugs that cluster on the sunny sides of houses. They look like this:

box_elder_bug

Stink bugs are on the same schedule as those guys. Boxelder bugs and stink bugs have the same agenda: survive cold months even if it means invading human homes. They’re more annoying, are capable of doing more damage, AND they smell worse. Uggghhhh.

Are stink bugs really stinky?

It wouldn’t make much sense to be named “Stink bug” and not stink. When these things feel threatened, they use their super weird ability to emit a chemical toxin from the pores on their body that smells like skunk, or earthy plants depending on who you ask.

Stinkbug brown resized 600

If you find one in your house, try to avoid smashing it because it will smell even worse and probably get all over your hands through the paper towel you’re using. Instead, just grab a tupperware or scoop it up with a magazine and run into the bathroom and flush it. Problem solved.

Are stink bugs harmful?

They won’t bite you with shark teeth or inject you with venom, so you don’t have to worry about that. But, stink bugs are quickly spreading throughout the US. If they’ve really only been a problem in this country since the 90s, that’s a decent amount of invasion progress from then until now. (They’re kinda slow moving, so three decades seems legit.) This could end up being really harmful to farms and crops as they sweep across the states. Our agriculture industry is having a hard enough time with the decline of bee populations and lack of pollenation to their crops.

stink bug on tomato resized 600

Also, like any other bug that can invade residential structures in clustering numbers, infestations can invade your property. Stink bugs don’t eat wood or chew through it like carpenter ants can, but any large population of insects, especially ones that secrete toxic things, will definitely screw up the inside of your walls, might make your house smell weird and knowing there are bugs in your walls is really scary.

Can stink bugs bite?

Nope. Unless you are a plant. If you are a plant, then you should worry. Stink bugs <3 plants.

 

How to get rid of stink bugs

“Stink bugs often enter homes and other structures this time of year to seek food, water and shelter in preparation for the upcoming winter weather,” said Steve Ishii, branch manager for Rose Pest Control Northfield. “Fortunately, stink bugs do not pose a safety or property risk to homeowners. However, they tend to invade homes in high numbers and can become a nuisance once inside.”

Experts at the National Pest Management Association, a nonprofit organization committed to the protection of public health, food and property from household pests, offers a few simple tips to ward off stink bugs before an infestation develops. encourages homeowners to take proactive measures to stink bug-proof the home, both inside and out, to help keep these smelly pests at bay in the coming weeks.

  • Seal cracks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, ceiling fans and light switches to prevent stink bugs from entering the home.
  • Stink bugs are attracted to lights, so it’s recommended to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum.
  • Repair damaged window screens and install door sweeps on exterior doors.
  • Properly ventilate basements, attics, garages and crawl spaces to eliminate harborage points. Consider using a dehumidifier in these areas.
  • Install screens over the chimney and attic vents.
  • Keep branches and shrubbery well trimmed, and make sure to store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.

“If you find a stink bug in the home, you can use a vacuum to aid in its removal. However, a licensed pest professional can be contacted if a more serious infestation is suspected,” added Ishii.

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