WASHINGTON – An unlikely ally will help keep stink bugs out of many regional homes this fall, according to one bug expert.
Many indigenous insect species are “switching over” and dining on stink bugs, says Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. More effective insecticides with specific purposes are also proving successful in controlling the spread of this bothersome invader.
“This may be part of the reason we’ve had fewer problems with our crops so far,” he says. “The good news here is we’ve come up with a lot of solutions.”
Stink bugs like to hang out in “aggregations,” or large groups, says Raupp. At this time of year when the weather becomes cooler, stink bugs tend to relocate to under tree bark, in house attics or other places where “their buddies are.”
This is, then, a good time to check all windows and screening in the home, as well as improving weather strips and caulking. These steps will also help keep the house insulated from the cold.
Raupp also suggests checking any ventilation fans or other openings in an attic or on the roof, and installing window-grade screening on the inside.
If stink bugs do make it inside a house, the most effective method for removing them is with a vacuum, he says. Be sure to dispose of the contents after each sweep.
Insecticide sprays can also work to keep stink bugs at bay, but are best used outside. Again, look for groupings of the bug, Raupp says.
“If you can direct a spray at that aggregation of stink bugs, you are certainly going to annihilate some of these guys before they come into the house,” he says.
Look for insecticides for specific tasks, Raupp suggests, such as for trees or around the house. It’s important to attack these bugs early, particularly while they are still in their immature or “nymph” stage.