Stink Bugs Stinking Up The US
A Nationwide Epidemic
We hate to make a stink – but bugs are a natural part of life; and for many, the initial reaction when seeing a bug is to give it a squish. While not everyone is grossed out by them, that natural reaction can backfire tremendously, especially when it comes to Stink Bugs.
Since our current winter of 2020 can’t make up its mind on whether it will be warm or cold, that temperature fluctuation won’t be doing us any favors when it comes to the Stink Bug. Experts say temperature isn’t a factor for them, as they can produce enough numbers during the spring and summer to earn the title “pest” all year-round. If you spot them around the house or yard, take heed to their name. They don’t get it because they are bad at football – they get it because they emit an odor so foul it will ruin your day. More on that in a bit.
What The Experts Say
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, its official name, has been a relatively new guest in the United States for the past 20 or so years. They aren’t even from here! According to the PennState Extension, the species is native to China, Japan and the Koreas. The Extension even believes they were introduced accidentally to the United States in the mid-to-late 90’s. Oopsie daisies! What makes them notorious in the States, besides their hideous smell, is their catastrophic impact on crops. Listen to this – a report from The Star Tribune in October of last year found they cost growers in Minnesota $2.4 million in crop losses and spraying costs in one year. That’s because the bug is known as a “sucking insect,” using their proboscis to pierce the host plant to feed. Their proboscis can pierce through fruits, leaves, seeds and trees, and render the delicious food inedible.
Besides their impact to growers, the average homeowner may spot this fairly innocent-looking bug crawling around the house. You may think to yourself: “Ew! A bug! Squish time!” But then you realize the horror you’ve unleashed in your home – a skunk-level type smell. The odor comes from holes in the Stink Bug’s abdomen. Like a skunk, experts say it is a defense mechanism meant to prevent it from being eaten by its natural predators. But you don’t have to be a bird or lizard to make it feel scared. Experts say simply handling the bug, injuring it, or attempting to move it can trigger it to release the odor.
Getting Rid Of Stink Bugs
So how do you get rid of them if you’re a homeowner? Well, the good news is that the vacuum can be an effective way of getting the unwelcome guests out, according to Mental Floss. Also, simply laying out trays of soapy water can kill them without the risk of the stink. The bad news: it’s a lot tougher for those of you who have outdoor gardens or farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed an artificial pheromone which can be used to bait traps. And, because the bugs are mobile, a new population may just fly right back in after the population you just killed. So is there any hope? More good news – yes there is!
That same Mental Floss report shows the Stink Bug have a mortal enemy – the Samurai Wasp. Like the ancient warriors, these Stink Bug assassins strike at the heart of the problem, their eggs. Experts say the wasps lay their eggs within each of a majority of the approximately 28 eggs found in a typical Stink Bug egg cluster, eliminating a significant amount of the potential population.
While Stink Bugs are harmless to humans, they are still a pest. Besides their smell, they can ruin any growing plans you could have outside in your yard. There are steps you can take to get rid of them, but don’t forget – do not squish!
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