WASHINGTON - A major pest is poised for a comeback.
The brown marmorated stink bug is invading homes and cars as temperatures drop. The bugs, which release their characteristic noxious odor to deter predators, are now moving away from their summer feeding spots and toward winter refuges.
"I think we're in for a big season this year," says Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. "We expect this may be as bad - or as significant - as the year 2010, which was the breakout year for these stink bugs around here."
Raupp says Montgomery and Frederick counties are showing indications of "huge populations" of stink bugs, and he expects this to become a "region-wide phenomenon."
Over the next several weeks, people may be seeing more stink bugs, he says.
"We're going to see large numbers of stink bugs collecting on the sides of people's homes and then trying to move indoors," Raupp says.
He recommends putting window-grade screening over vents and caulking around windows or other openings, like those for utility lines.
Raupp says stink bugs, which are an invasive species, naturally look for winter shelter under the bark of dead trees. As a result, residents living near forests could see more of the bugs.
Also, the pests feed on crops as well as ornamental trees and shrubs that have fruits or berries. If you have those, "you may have a large stink bug population that may move into your home as autumn comes along," according to Raupp.
He says to vacuum up or collect any bugs that do make their way into your home, and he doesn't encourage the use of pesticides indoors.
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