MARYLAND — Is there a better metaphor for 2020 than a pest with “stink” in its name getting ready to set up camp in your house? The brown marmorated stink bug — known for its putrid odor — will soon crawl into your home as cooler temperatures arrive in Maryland.
As surely as the calendar turned to September, fall will arrive and stink bugs will be looking for a place to freeload over the winter. You’ll recognize them by their marbled or streaked, or marmorated, appearance.
Found in Maryland and 45 other states, stink bugs are an enemy to fruit growers in particular. The pests have piercing, sucking mouthparts — tiny shields about a half-inch long and wide, which they tuck between their legs when they’re not ravaging plants — they can’t bite you. They can’t sting you, and they won’t reproduce.
They tend to attack seeds, nuts and fruit, including peaches, apples, tomatoes, green peppers, soybeans and pecans. Some stink bug species are predators, but they eat other bugs.
They’re noxious in ways other than their smell, which has been compared to rotting meat.
Stink bugs are voracious eaters and have caused severe agricultural and nuisance damage in a dozen states, mainly those in the mid-Atlantic region, but also in Michigan and Oregon. Another dozen states report agricultural and nuisance problems.
In Maryland, surveillance by Stop the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug shows the pest is responsible for severe agricultural and nuisance problems.
Stink bugs like to feast on your vegetable gardens, farmers’ soybean crops, and black locust, maple, ash, and catalpa trees. They like cherries and raspberries, too.
When stink bugs feed on crops, damage can include everything from bruises and blemishes to aborted sweet corn kernels to a change in the sugar levels in some fruits.
Stink bugs damage ornamental trees as well as fruits and vegetables, and they pose such a threat that the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the Stop the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug strike force. It’s a team of 50 researchers from 18 land-grant universities closely tracking the migration of the invasive, fast-moving pest.
Stink Bug Control Tips
Your best defense against stink bugs is to arm yourself with weather stripping, caulking and tape, and make your home a fortress. Seal up gaps and crevices around foundations and any area where doors, windows, chimneys and utility pipes are cut into the exterior. Any opening large enough for a stink bug to crawl through should be sealed.
The best thing to do if you find the bugs inside is gently sweep them into a bucket, then fill it with a couple of inches of soapy water. You could vacuum them up, but perhaps as a last resort because it will trigger stink bugs’ notorious odor and make your vacuum cleaner smell nasty.
A group of researchers from Virginia Tech University conducted a study that found that all you need is a pan of water and a light to attract the bugs to their doom.
The necessary supplies:
- A large pan (an aluminum foil one if you want to toss it, because honestly, who wants to reuse a pan that’s had bugs floating in it?)
- Water and dish soap
- A light to attract the bugs
The trap eliminated 14 times more stink bugs than store-bought traps that cost up to $50, the study found. The homemade model is comparatively cheap — roasting pan, dish soap, light — and homeowners might already own the components.
Some companies recommend a special stink bug vacuum — a cheap, handheld model used only for that chore. The bag should be tossed in a thick, disposable trash bag and taken far from the house.
Poison can quickly kill the stink bugs, but that will also trigger their stench. Professional extermination is another option.
A stink bug’s ability to emit an odor through holes in its abdomen is a defense mechanism, meant to prevent it from being eaten by birds and lizards. Simply handling the bug, injuring it, or attempting to move it can trigger an odor release.
Or, Just Live With Stink Bugs
Or, if you can bear the thought of living communally with them inside your home, you could just leave them alone and hope no one frightens them and stirs up a stinky ruckus. They don’t nest or lay eggs or reproduce in your house. They don’t don’t feed on anything or anyone in your house. They’re just there taking a load off for a few months, resting up.
Come spring, they’ll crawl right back outside in time to take a bite out of your garden, and for the war on stink bugs to begin anew.
Crdit: Source link