GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Autumn is in full swing in West Michigan. The leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping and insects are looking to stay warm by heading indoors. Few offenders are quite as common or as annoying as stink bugs.
There are several types of stink bugs in the United States, but the most common is the brown marmorated stink bug.
Pests.org says the brown marmorated stink bug made its way to the U.S. from Asia in the 1990s and quickly spread. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, they have now been found in 42 states, with the largest populations in the eastern half of the nation.
The brown marmorated stink bug can grow to be three-quarters of an inch long and are nearly as wide as they are long. Their brown bodies make it easy to blend in with tree bark. They can be problems for crops like apples, corn or tomatoes, but they don’t do any damage indoors.
They can, however, be a nuisance. If they sense a threat or if they are crushed, they release a foul odor.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HOME
The experts at pests.org say the best way to rid your home of a stink bug infestation is to make sure they don’t get in in the first place.
Start with the plants and vegetation on your property. Aside from warmth, stink bugs are looking for a place where they won’t be disturbed. So, they tend to look for “uncultivated areas.” Pests.org suggests keeping a close eye on your gardens and landscaping, especially areas near your home.
To stop stink bugs, you need to think like a stink bug. Inspect your home and look for any potential gaps, including tears in window screens and holes in weather stripping on doors. You should also check seals around any vents, fireplaces or crawlspaces to make sure they are secure.
WHAT IF YOU FIND A STINK BUG?
There are ways to remove stink bugs from your home without harming the insect. However, if you release it back into the wild, you’ll want to make sure you put it far enough away from your property where it won’t return.
Pests.org recommends using a vacuum cleaner to take care of the insect, calling it “the best (method) to kill stink bugs and prevent infestations from forming.”
If you find a stink bug, don’t crush it. Crushing it will cause the bug to release its odor which can linger. The odor is the only negative impact. Contradicting a common myth, the odor of a crushed stink bug does not attract more of them. Certain stink bugs will secrete a different chemical to attract more stink bugs if they think they found a suitable winter hideaway, but that’s different from the typical foul odor associated with them.
If you find a stink bug outside of your home, you can use different chemical solutions to push them away. A garden hose will force them off of your plants but won’t keep them away. Pests.org suggests mixing water with dish soap to spray on the insects. That solution “will serve to break down the stink bugs’ exoskeletons and dehydrate them.”
Other plant blogs, however, dispute the use of dish soap — especially “grease cutters” — because of their affects on the plant. Other solutions, including water mixed with vegetable oil, lavender oil or olive oil can be applied to gardens and work as a deterrent.