Spring weather brings smelly side effect: Stink bugs on the move

The warmer temperatures are luring cherry blossoms out of their buds, young twenty-somethings to the nearest outdoor bar and some very stinky pests out of hiding. If you have noticed a scourge of stink bugs crawling around your house, you’re not alone.

The particular type of stink bug common in the D.C. area is the brown marmorated stink bug and it is an invasive species that came to the U.S. in the late 1990s from Asia.

“It was first observed near Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1998,” said University of Maryland Entomologist Mike Raupp, popularly known as “The Bug Guy.” 

“Once those temperatures hit the 70 degree mark in the springtime, those stink bugs they’re going to become active and they’re going to be looking for a way outdoors,” said Raupp.

“This means the stink bugs will move from your attic or their overwintering hiding places,” he continued. “They’re going to show up on your windows. They’ve been bumping around my computer screen while I’m trying to get some work done and drive me crazy.”

Brown marmorated stink bugs seek refuge from cold temperatures in late fall and go into hiding in places, such as under winter shutters and attics to enter into a form of hibernation.

They emerge in the springtime to head outdoors and feed on the new greenery.

The good news? As far as entomologists know, stink bugs will not reproduce inside your home. There is simply not enough food in the house for them to be able to lay eggs.

The greenery that they need to lay eggs are probably in your backyard, though.

“The brown marmorated stink bugs are major pest of bar fruit crops, things like apples and peaches, but hey, they can also get your garden and damage your tomatoes so they are an important pest throughout most of the United States,” said Raupp.

So you may want to get rid of them before they get to your plants.

Raupp does not suggest squishing them, instead grab a hand held vacuum cleaner and such them up.

“I will empty the vacuum out into a plastic bag. I’ll put it in my freezer and I’ll then after those stink bugs have expired, I’ll take them out and add them to my compost,” said Raupp.

If you just have a few of the stinky pests in the house he also recommends a water bottle trap that works well that you can see in the video below.

Don’t squash the bug; that might lead to stinking up the whole house.

“The reason they stink, it’s simply defensive compounds they release from their abdomen to try to dissuade predators from making a tasty meal of themselves,” said Raupp. “These chemicals smell an awful lot like cilantro.”

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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