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The Halyomorpha halys, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), or simply the stink bug, is an insect in the family Pentatomidae, and it is native to Eastern Asia including parts of China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
These suckers were “accidentally” introduced to the United States sometime around 1998 through shipping containers and have been wreaking havoc ever since. Stink bugs are agricultural pests and cause catastrophic damage to fruit and vegetable crops. These things suck – literally – they use their proboscis to pierce the host plant sucking the life out of our food all summer, then they invade our houses in the fall to spend the winter inside our homes.
The brown marmorated stink bug is more likely to invade homes in the fall than other insects in the stink bug family. The bug survives the winter as an adult by entering houses and structures when autumn evenings become colder, often in the thousands or worse.
According to Wikipedia, one home had more than 26,000 stinkbugs found. Think you have that beat? Share your photos. Adult stink bugs can live from several months to a year. They force entry under siding, into soffits, around window and door frames, chimneys, or any space which has openings big enough to fit through. Once inside the house, they will go into a state of hibernation. They wait for winter to pass, but often the warmth inside the house causes them to become active, and they may fly clumsily around light fixtures and buzz heads.
The 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. However, simply handling the bug, injuring it, or attempting to move it can trigger it to release the odor. Don’t even think of using a fly swatter.
When crushed, stink bugs emit an odor due to trans-2-decenal and trans-2-Octenal. The smell has been characterized as a “pungent odor that smells like coriander or cilantro. Though they do not typically bite humans they have been known to pierce human skin if given the opportunity. They also like to poop all over the place leaving a brown stain behind.
Stink bugs are direct cause of many a stubbed toes, spilled coffees, stained clothes and screaming kids. They make a great conversation starter at any party.
The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug has no natural predators in the United States and as a results has been able to flourish. Extermination typically has a limited effect of a week or two at the most and is not currently recommended as a means of irradication.
Control of stink bugs is a priority of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) which has developed an artificial pheromone which can be used to bait traps. Because the bugs insert their proboscis below the surface of fruit, and then feed, some insecticides are ineffective; in addition, the bugs are mobile, and a new population may fly in after the resident population has been killed. In the case of soybean infestations research shows that spraying only the perimeter of a field may be effective. As of 2012, native predators such as wasps and birds were showing increased signs of feeding on the bugs as they adapt to the new food source and the USDA is considering the introduction of predatory species from Asia.
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