Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

Everybody knows you can’t squish a stink bug. Widely known for the foul odor they produce, these insects earned their title from their unique defense mechanism. But have you ever actually smelled a stink bug before? And do you know why they smell so foul?

Stink bugs are “shield-shaped” with piercing mouthparts designed to suck juices out of plants, fruits and vegetables and have glands in their abdomen that produce a chemical that many claim smells like skunk. This chemical protects them from predators and is released when the insect feels threatened – or if they’ve been flattened. Even simply attempting to move a stink bug can cause it to release the chemical.

Originally from Asia, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs were first identified in the north eastern United States in 1998. Now, however, they are becoming a common household pest spreading throughout the east and southeast. Stink bugs make their way into your home in the fall when the temperature begins to drop. Looking for warmth, they seek out manmade sheltered areas that will protect them during the winter. During the coldest months, stink bugs stay dormant (commonly nesting inside of your walls) until spring comes. They do not cause damage but nest together, often in thousands, to maintain warmth and can become a major nuisance. The bugs reappear in full force as the temperature begins to warm. Preventive and control measures involve sealing of cracks and crevices around doors and windows and treatments by pest management professionals.

Not only are stink bugs a household pest; they’re also causing major problems for the agricultural industry. These bugs inflict widespread damage to the fruit and vegetable crops they feed on. Plant pathogens, seed loss, or dimples on the outer surface of the fruit or vegetables can occur affecting the sales value. The USDA is researching ways to prevent stink bugs from spreading and damaging more crops across the nation, as the insect is classified as an invasive species.

So, next time you see a stink bug you’ll know not to make it feel threatened unless you want that foul odor to spread throughout your home!