Stink Bugs In VA, DC: How To Keep Them Out Of Your Home | Across Virginia, VA Patch

2022-10-09 08:22:48 By : Mr. Winnie Lee

VIRGINIA — A smelly horde of brown marmorated stink bugs is creeping into houses all over Virginia and the District right now, just itching to settle down for the winter in your warm, cozy abode.

You’ll recognize these shield-shaped insects by their marbled or streaked — marmorated — appearance. We’ll get to what you need to do to stop their invasion in a bit — and you’ll want to, because they’ve earned their common name — but more important is the significance of their spread to 48 states, including Virginia, along with the District of Columbia.

Stink bugs are voracious eaters. What they can do with those piercing, sucking mouth parts to an apple, peach or pear orchard isn’t pretty. Lots of other crops are at risk from stink bug damage, too.

Stink bugs, which likely hitched a ride to the United States from Asia in a shipping container, have caused severe agricultural and nuisance damage in a dozen states, mainly those in the mid-Atlantic region, but also in Michigan and Oregon.

Another dozen states report agricultural and nuisance problems; a handful report nuisance problems only; and only Wyoming and South Dakota haven’t seen any stink bug activity.

In DC and Virginia, surveillance by Stop the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug shows the pest is responsible for severe agricultural and nuisance problems.

Stink bugs like to feast on your vegetable gardens, farmers' soybean crops, and black locust, maple, ash, and catalpa trees. They like cherries and raspberries, too.

When stink bugs feed on crops, damage can include everything from bruises and blemishes to aborted sweet corn kernels to a change in the sugar levels in some fruits.

Stink bugs smell bad if you smash them. Hence, their name. So don’t do that. And they can be pretty destructive in other ways.

They're looking to hibernate in hiding places inside your home, but you can take steps now to plug the places they crawl in. And one other dandy benefit is, the work you’re doing now will also help deter mice.

What to do: Your best defense against stink bugs is to arm yourself with weather-stripping, caulking and tape and make your home a fortress. Seal up gaps and crevices around foundations and any area where doors, windows, chimneys and utility pipes are cut into the exterior. Any opening large enough for a stink bug to crawl through should be sealed.

You could vacuum them up, but perhaps as a last resort because it will trigger stink bugs’ notorious odor and make your vacuum cleaner smell bad.

Poison can quickly kill the stink bugs, but that will also trigger their stench. Professional extermination is another option.

Come spring, they’ll crawl right back outside to take a bite out of your garden, and the war on stink bugs will begin anew.

A group of researchers from Virginia Tech University conducted a study that found that all you need is a pan of water and a light to attract the bugs to their doom.

The trap eliminated 14 times more stink bugs than store-bought traps that cost up to $50, the study found. The homemade model is comparatively cheap — roasting pan, dish soap, light — and homeowners might already own the components. Some companies recommend a special stink bug vacuum — a cheap, handheld model used only for that chore. The bag should be tossed in a thick, disposable trash bag and taken far from the house.

Professional extermination is another way to go. A stink bug's ability to emit an odor through holes in its abdomen is a defense mechanism, meant to prevent it from being eaten by birds and lizards. Simply handling the bug, injuring it, or attempting to move it can trigger an odor release.

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