Why Do Stink Bugs Stink?
While they might not be as recognizable as a cockroach or ant, stink bugs are a growing problem across the country. These smelly brown insects are damaging to orchards and farms. Around the house they are more of a nuisance than a serious threat, but having your home invaded by them is an unpleasant experience. Knowing more about stink bugs will help you keep them out.
What Is a Stink Bug?
Although there are a number of insects in the United States in the stink bug family, the one that causes the most trouble is the brown marmorated stink bug. Up to half an inch long and almost as wide, these bugs have a mottled brown body shaped like a flat shield. They are native to Asia and newcomers to America, accidentally brought over in the late 1990s in packing shipments and crates.
Why Do They Stink?
True to their name, stink bugs literally stink. When they are frightened, they use special glands under their bodies to produce a foul-smelling chemical that smells a bit like dirty socks or coriander. This odor is meant to keep away birds and other animals that might eat them, but the bugs also release it if they are handled, disturbed or injured, which can happen when you try to remove them from your house.
Why Are They a Problem?
Stink bugs are generally harmless to humans. They do not bite and do not eat human food, so you don't have to worry about them in the kitchen. These insects are a bigger issue in a garden or on a farm, however, as they eat the leaves, stems and fruit of many types of plants, causing rot, and some pesticides don't work on them.
In the fall, the bugs look for sheltered places to hibernate, causing them to move into peoples' homes. They often hide in nooks and crannies around a house:
- Piles of clothes or bedding
- Newspaper stacks
- Behind walls
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
Come spring, hibernating stink bugs can emerge in large, bad-smelling numbers in a home. Most will fly away on their own eventually, but you can get rid of them faster by spraying them with a solution of soap and water or mild pesticides. Another effective way to stop them is to keep them from entering your home by screening windows and sealing up any cracks around windows and doors.
Stink bugs are an annoying and odorous problem in many houses. Although they are harmless, using screens and bug control can keep them out of your home.