Overwintering Stink Bugs: What to do About Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
As Thanksgiving Day draws near, many of us are getting ready for an influx of guests. Unfortunately, in the midst of preparing for fun and festivities, some people are discovering a different and much less welcome type of visitor in their home: brown marmorated stink bugs.
These malodorous, shield-shaped insects have been taking up residence in people’s homes, sometimes by the thousands. Once they’re established, they start getting into everything – your clothes, your belongings, even your food.
Killing them just makes the smell even worse, so many people are at a loss for how to handle them.
Why do they enter your buildings, and what can you do about them?
Stink bugs aren’t big fans of winter.
Like many species, brown marmorated stink bugs aren’t well-equipped to handle extreme cold. So they try to escape it by entering humans’ buildings.
This catches many homeowners by surprise, especially in areas that didn’t have stink bugs until recently.
These smelly insects are originally from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and were first discovered in the United States in 1998.
Since then, they’ve spread throughout Pennsylvania, and have been discovered in several other states, sometimes getting into houses and damaging crops before people even realize the invaders have spread to their area.
Once inside, they often cluster in one place, to the point where they can resemble stink bug wallpaper. Not that they’re guaranteed to stay there – on warm, sunny days, some of the bugs prefer to wander throughout your house, popping up where you least expect or want them.
If you’ve been finding stink bugs in your home on a regular basis, there might very well be a large swarm of them hiding somewhere out of sight.
Where do overwintering stink bugs prefer to hang out?
As long as you have that big central cluster lurking in your home, killing a few at a time is unlikely to grant you more than a few minutes or hours without bug encounters, especially if the weather is sunny.
To make matters worse, when spring comes, those thousands of insects are going to wake up and try to find a way outside – possibly by way of your living area.
Because of this, we strongly advise that you find and deal with the main swarm, rather than just killing the bugs you happen to see.
So where is the center of the overwintering stink bugs infestation likely to be?
As with most resting insects, stink bugs don’t want to be seen. That being the case, they usually hide in quiet, out-of-the-way places like attics, crawl spaces, and the insides of your walls.
This can make it hard to get rid of them without making the problem worse, because if you kill them with gas or spray and can’t get rid of the corpses, the stench will not only make the area miserable to live in, but can also attract other insects.
Once they’ve become established, stink bugs can be very difficult to remove, so an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.
What attracts stink bugs indoors?
While the general coldness of the outdoors is a universal and unavoidable motivator for brown marmorated stink bugs to move inside, there are some things you can do to make your home less appealing.
Here are some of the things that attract stink bugs to houses:
- Holes, cracks and gaps in our house.
These small, flat insects are good at squeezing through tiny holes and cracks, but even they can’t enter a house with no openings.
Fixing any cracks in your walls and foundation, repairing tears in your screens, and sealing gaps between the walls and your windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping will help to keep the pests from coming inside in the first place.
If there are any air conditioning units, pipes or dryer vents leading into your home, make sure there are no gaps around them, and that any openings that can’t be sealed are covered with screen.
We also advise against leaving the door open any longer than you have to in order to leave or enter your house.
Stink bugs, and a variety of other insects, are attracted to light, so try to minimize nocturnal light use.
Fruit is one of stink bugs’ primary food sources, especially when it’s ripe, so your garden or orchard is a very appealing free buffet for them. They also eat native and ornamental trees, vines, shrubs and weeds.
Any time you bring plants inside, inspect them thoroughly first.
Do you have stink bugs, or want to avoid getting them?
If you need help to get rid of a stink bug infestation or to make sure you don’t get one in the first place, we’re here for you.