9/30/2008

The stink invasion has begun!

The last couple of years stink bugs have started taking over our houses in Fall. This year the problem is beyond ridiculous! Literally if you open your door a zillion stink bugs will fly into your house. I did some research on these smelly pests and it turns out that the brown marmorated stink bug "hitched a ride" as a stowaway in packing crates from Asia. The first specimen was found in Allentown, Pennsylvania, during the fall of 1996 and it quickly made its way across to New Jersey. GREAT, so we're right in the heart of all the action! I power washed my house a couple of weekends ago and I had stink bugs shooting out from under the siding all over the place. Many of the sites suggest using sealant to cover all the nooks and cranny in and around your house, but giving the fact that they seem to be very comfortable crawling under the vinyl siding I don't see the problem being solved any time soon. I wonder if there are stink bug traps out there for sale. It's a massive pity that these bugs aren't tasty because our feathery friends would have a field day with ALL these bugs zooming around.

Below are more details about these nasty critters from Wikipedia as well as a couple of pics I snapped.

"In 1999, the brown marmorated stink bug was first recovered in New Jersey from a black light trap run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Vegetable IPM program in Milford, New Jersey [1]. In 2002, it was again collected from black light traps located in Phillipsburg and Little York and found on plant material in Stewartsville. It is now documented and established in many counties in the tri-state area (New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York) on the eastern coast of the United States. This agricultural pest has already reached Maryland and West Virginia, and studies continue to establish just how extensive the infestation may go.

It looks similar in appearance to other native species of shield bugs including Acrosternum, Euschistus, and Podisus, except that several of the abdominal segments protrude from beneath the wings and are alternatively banded with black and white (visible along the edge of the bug even when wings are folded) and a white stripe or band on the next to last (4th) antennal segment. The adults are approximately ⅝ inch long and the underside is white or pale tan, sometimes with grey or black markings. The legs are brown with faint white banding.

It is an agricultural pest that can cause widespread damage to fruit and vegetable crops. In Japan it is a pest to soybean and fruit crops. In the U.S., the brown marmorated stink bug feeds on a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other host plants beginning in late May/early June including peaches, apples, green beans, soybeans, cherry, raspberries, and pears. It is a sucking insect that uses its proboscis to pierce the host plant in order to feed. This feeding results, in part, in the formation of small, necrotic areas on the outer surface of fruits but ranges from leaf stippling, cat-facing on tree fruits, seed loss, and transmission of plant pathogens.

The brown marmorated stink bug survives the winter as adults by entering houses and structures when fall evenings start to turn cold. Adults can live for several years and look for buildings to overwinter in that shield them from the elements. They will work their way under siding, into soffits, around window and door frames, under roof shingles and into any crawl space or attic vent which has openings big enough to fit through. Once inside the home they will go into a state of hibernation where they wait for winter to pass, but often the warmth inside the home causes them to become active, especially in winter months, and they will fly clumsily around light fixtures. They leave a powerful scent behind on everything they land on, including the buildings where they hibernate, and this odor is one of the reasons they will return year after year; it is a beacon to other stinkbugs that this location is a good hibernation nest.

The stinkbug's ability to emit a vile odor through holes in its abdomen is a defense mechanism meant to prevent it from being eaten by birds and lizards. However, simply jostling the bug, cornering it, scaring or injuring it, or attempting to remove one from one's home can "set it off," and the odor is extremely powerful, unpleasant, and long-lasting. It can make a whole room uninhabitable until aired out, and some people are even allergic to the smell. Squashing it is a surefire way of expelling its noxious odor, and most times the best way of extracting one from the inside of a home is to allow it to walk onto something like a newspaper and then simply taking it outside. Another option is to gently collect it using a piece of tissue and flushing it. One other way of disposal is killing it with an electric flyswatter. This kills them almost instantly without squashing them. The stink glands are located on the underside of the thorax, between the first and second pair of legs".




8 comments:

John said...

We have tons of stink bugs in one of our banding blinds.

Owlman said...

Jees, that must be annoying John. Do you know anyone in NJ that bands? I would love to get involved with banding!

dguzman said...

Soooo not a fan of the stinkbug. When I was a kid, I was watching one above me on a branch in a tree, and he must've emitted his little stinksap because it fell right into one of my eyes. I couldn't see anything but a white blur out of that eye for two days! It was horrible!

Meggie said...

Hey Owlman! Found you by way of Dave at Around Anchorage. I live in Western PA and I sure do know all about stink bugs. Can't believe such a small critter can emit such a ton of stink. I'm impressed with all the research you do...isn't the internet wonderful?!

RuthieJ said...

Ooh, I saw a couple of these in my backyard this afternoon. Now I'll know not to mess with them!

Owlman said...

Hi Meggie,

Thanks for popping in and commenting. I love Dave's blog and I also subscribe to yours. I love the internet and I often wonder what we did before it.

RuthieJ, long time no see. Thanks for popping in and commenting. The stunk bugs have only got worse and I fear we're fighting a losing battle!

jeff said...

Nice job!
Our nature center is full of these buggers which really went bonzo about three years ago. Honey Brook Organic CSA is on our Reserve (largest organic CSA in the country) and these stink bugs have completely replaced the standard squash but as the fall in-your-house-invasive. I am grateful to have further information on these (and a tad bit embarrassed that I waited this long to learn more). Thanks.

Owlman said...

Hi Dguzman, for some reason I missed your comment - apologies! Wow, I didn't think stinkbugs could blind you with their stink! For some reason they love flying onto you and I wonder if it's related to body heat.

Jeff, thanks for popping in. My motto is that it's never too late to learn. It also take me several years to do some research on these critters.