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The Journal Gazette

  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Fall is the time to prevent the brown marmorated stinkbug from getting into your home. Preventive measures include caulking cracks around windows and pipes.

  • Terri Richardson | The Journal Gazette If stinkbugs do make it inside your home, set up a trap by using a foil pan filled with soapy water. Place the pan in a dark room and aim a light at it. Stinkbugs will be attracted to it, then fall in and drown.

Monday, October 09, 2017 1:00 am

Pest Control

Insect can be a real stinker

Ricky Kemery

It's fall, which means those horrible stinkbugs are once again finding their way inside your house. There are ways to control these pests. But you need to act fast, as autumn is the time to launch prevention measures.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is a recent arrival to America – having been introduced to the U.S. in the late 1990s. It has taken awhile for it to spread to our region. I first began to receive samples of this insect about six years ago.

Brown marmorated stinkbug has some of the same habits as many introduced insects from China. It collects on the sides of homes in late fall and then crawls into tiny cracks or through vents to enter the home and spend the winter in crawl spaces, wall voids or attics. Stinkbugs will occasionally reappear during warmer sunny periods throughout the winter, and emerge in larger numbers in the spring.

This is when they wear out their welcome. According to Penn State University, stinkbugs can produce allergic reactions in some individuals who are sensitive to the bugs' odor. Individuals sensitive to the odors of cockroaches and ladybugs are also affected by the stinkbugs. Additionally, if the insects are crushed or smashed against exposed skin they have been reported to produce dermatitis at the point of contact. The stinkbug will not reproduce inside structures or cause damage. If many of them are squashed or pulled into a vacuum cleaner, their smell can be quite apparent.

If you have never encountered a brown marmorated stinkbug, it has the typical “shield” shape of other stinkbugs. To distinguish them from other stinkbugs, look for lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the membranous, overlapping part at the rear of the front pair of wings. (http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug.)

Exclusion is one way to help control brown marmorated stinkbug. Caulking cracks around windows, pipes entering the building, siding, etc., can help prevent entry.

All-purpose insecticides can be sprayed on the home so that stinkbugs will contact the pesticide and perish before they can enter the home.

If stinkbugs have been a recurring problem, it might be a good time to work with a professional pest control operator to spray the outside of the home in late fall. These professionals can spray areas that are out of reach by homeowners.

If many stinkbugs emerge inside the home in the spring, it is better to use a dedicated vacuum cleaner to sweep them up. Let the stinkbugs outside to experience the freezing weather of early spring.

According to Virginia Tech University, an effective and nontoxic inexpensive method for stinkbug control is to place a foil roasting pan filled with some water and a few drops of dishwashing soap inside a dark room in the house. Point a light into the pan. Stinkbugs will be attracted to the light and will fall into the water and drown. Empty the pan and repeat as necessary.

There are some commercial traps for homes that use the same or similar principles to capture and kill the stinkbugs.

The Plant Medic is written by Ricky Kemery, who retired as extension educator for horticulture at the Allen County branch of the Purdue Extension Service.