Stink bug season ‘spectacular,’ entomologist says

WASHINGTON – It’s that time of year again – time for the invasion of stink bugs. The smelly pests are taking over the D.C. area and this season is worse than previous years.

“This was the week I think the floodgates opened,” says Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. “We knew they were coming.”

Raupp says the stink-bug population was very low in 2011 but gained momentum last year. He says they correctly predicted the 2013 crop of stink bugs would be very large. Recently, Raupp’s team collected more than 4,000 stink bugs off the side of a building in 20 minutes.

But not everyone is seeing more of them. “I’ve heard reports of some places just being inundated with floods of stink bugs, and eight miles away people are seeing none. I think it’s going to be very spotty this year. But where people have stink bugs, it’s going to be spectacular.”

Stink bugs are tricky to get rid of, especially since their glands release a defensive secretion when they feel threatened. “Sometimes you just look at them cross-eyed and they want to stink,” Raupp says. “We had about 400 of these in our research vehicle when we came home the other day. We were almost asphyxiated. Some people say it smells like cilantro because one of the compounds in the secretion is the same compound we find in cilantro. So maybe we can make a little salsa with them,” he jokes.

They seek refuge during the winter so he says take steps now to prevent them from invading your home.

  • Caulk around your windows
  • Place a cover around the air conditioner
  • Install window-grade screening on the inside of the vents in the attic

If they do get inside, do not use pesticides. Trap or vacuum them up, put them in a bucket of soapy water or a plastic bag, and freeze them before tossing them in the compost pile.

“I kind of recycle these bugs once I off them,” Raupp says.

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