Pentatomoidea, the scientific name for stink bugs, produce an intensely foul odor that permeates the air. Before you consider moving to escape the noxious odor, consider your options for removal.
Stink bugs are well-understood, and effective options are available to eliminate the infestation.
Facts about Stink Bugs
- Brown stink bugs usually live near farms and aren’t noticeable until the weather begins to cool in autumn. As the weather cools, the bugs begin looking for a warm place to spend winter and may enter homes or outbuildings in search of warmth. If you find one of these insects in your home, avoid crushing it to prevent releasing its odor.
- Brown marmorated stink bugs are an invasive agricultural pest found near orchards or other outdoor food production areas, such as commercial farms. This species is identified by its coloring. Most stink bugs have a shield-shaped back, but the marmorated species has alternating black and white lines outlining the shield.
- Green stink bugs are typically most harmful to a few specific crops, while some brown species are found in crops that range from tobacco and soy to tomatoes and nuts. The green species also lives near gardens or commercial farms, their leafy, but their color makes them hard to find during the growing season. The green species also rarely enters homes, preferring to overwinter outdoors.
- Both brown and green stink bugs have a lifespan of up to three years. They are active throughout the growing season. The cold-blooded insects are usually dormant during winter, but may swarm sunny windows or other warm places on warm days. While these pests are often found indoors during winter, they do not lay their eggs indoors.
- Very few insects prey on the stink bug, allowing populations to flourish when other conditions are right. Milder winter weather is one reason for larger-than-average populations. A single predator, the parasitic wasp, feeds on the stink bug. When found in large numbers, the parasitic wasp can help reduce stink bug populations in the area.
Why Do Stink Bugs Stink?
The odor these insects release is a defense mechanism that helps protect it from predators. The bug products the scent in a set of glands called aldehydes. The two glands produce enough of the odorous liquid to equal about one-fifth of the insect’s body weight. While this may not seem like a lot, the odor can be very intense.
Generally, crushing the bugs isn’t a recommended way to manage an infestation. Crushing these insects releases their odor, making the odor harder to manage inside your home. Some people state that the scent released when you crush a stink bug attracts more of the insects to your home.
The real attractant is another scent released by the insects once they find a warm place to spend winter. The second odor is released when the stink bugs are well-established in a warm place, such as behind a wall. The scent that attracts more stink bugs isn’t noticeable to humans.
What Types of Stink Bugs Are In Central Indiana?
The United States is home to well over 200 species of stink bugs, and many of these species are found throughout the Midwest. Brown stink bugs are often very similar, while the marmorated stink bug has unique markings. Most species share the distinctive shield-shaped back and have the ability to produce a foul odor.
Additionally, the marmorated species is usually the only species that enters homes at the beginning of winter, although you may find an occasional stink bug indoors that is a different species. The brown marmorated species is relatively new to the state but has established large populations in some areas.
The marmorated species is distinct because its shield is outlined in alternating black and white lines, and because the insect is much darker in color than many native brown species. The native species has a solid, light brown color with brown legs and no white markings on its back. Other species may have orange or white markings, depending on the species.
What Are The Health Risk of Stink Bugs to Your Family and Pets?
Stink bugs are usually harmless for humans and pets. The stink bug doesn’t sting or bite and typically doesn’t produce an odor unless it is threatened or crushed. Some exotic pets that are very small, such as tarantulas and hermit crabs, are more at-risk than larger animals. Experiments have shown the odor is occasionally harmful to insects, including other stink bugs.
The odor must be concentrated in a small, poorly ventilated space, such as a lidded, airtight container, to have a serious effect on other insects or small animals. While the risk to smaller pets is minimal, you can take some steps to keep your pet’s cage safe from stink bugs, such as providing a cage or enclosure that is properly ventilated. The odor is harmless to cats, dogs, birds and other common pets.
What Kind of Damage Can Stink Bugs Do To Your Property and Home?
The stink bug doesn’t cause structural damage to homes, but their odor can linger long after the insects are gone. The odor is stronger when the insects swarm inside the home during the winter months, and the can be particularly difficult to eliminate if the insects are crushed on porous surfaces like unfinished wood or unpainted drywall. The odor is also stronger when the insects are found in large numbers.
To control the odor, ventilate the affected areas. You can also use a vacuum to remove any visible bugs, but choose a vacuum that has bags to keep the odor contained. If you use a canister vacuum, the odor can remain in the canister long after the insects are gone. Baking soda-based carpet cleaner helps remove odors on carpeting and fabrics.
The stink bug can cause minor problems in the kitchen, especially during warmer winters when the insects swarm frequently. When the insects swarm, they may enter your pantry and contaminate food supplies. While the insect doesn’t actually eat the food in your pantry, the foul odor can permeate some types of food packaging and ruin the contents. Storing food in the refrigerator, freezer, or lidded storage containers will reduce food waste caused by odor contamination.