Unusually cold and rainy weather may have kept some stink bugs away, but they’re still showing up in yards by the hundreds.
"I think we're in for a big season this year," says Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. "We expect this may be as bad - or as significant - as the year 2010, which was the breakout year for these stink bugs around here."
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) says we are likely to start seeing these smelly pests hanging on curtains, lampshades, screens and other objects inside homes in the coming months.
“The number of adult stink bugs increase during September and October which makes it critical to capture them now, before they migrate to overwintering sites,” says Dr. Qing-He Zhang, lead scientist and director of research at Sterling International Inc., developers of RESCUE!® Stink Bug Traps.
“In the early fall, stink bug adults intensively feed on high energy foods such as fruits, seeds, leaves and even tree trunks to obtain the strength needed for hibernation,” says Dr. Zhang. “As food sources dry up and daylight hours wane, the bugs search for shelter to overwinter.”
According to Virginia Cooperative Extension entomologist Chris Bergh, “There seems to be a very tight window during which these bugs start moving from their feeding sites to overwintering sites.”
With no effective natural enemies, stink bugs have been discovered in 40 states to this point – most recently in Oregon and Utah.
“Homes are prime targets,” says Dr. Zhang. “If you’ve seen one, you can be sure there are hundreds more waiting to come inside. You need to stop them in their tracks and break the stink bug life cycle before they come indoors to hibernate.”
So, how can you stop these pesky bugs in their tracks? Scientists recommend the following tips for preventing and dealing with stink bugs:
1. Seal off entry points: Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Pay close attention to areas around siding and window air-conditioner utility pipes, behind chimneys and underneath the fascia or other openings. Use silicone caulk to seal any cracks and holes.
2. Replace and repair: Check for damaged window or door screens and for torn weather-stripping and loose mortar.
3. Trap them before they come indoors: To catch the stink bugs in the fall before they move inside, hang a trap - like the RESCUE!®Stink Bug Trap - at eye level from a tree branch, stake or pole about 15-20 feet from the house.
4. Turn off the lights: Keep outdoor lighting to a minimum. During the evenings, turn off porch lights and pull down window blinds to prevent light from spilling outside.
5. Ventilate: Properly ventilate basements, attics, garages and crawl spaces to eliminate harborage points. Consider using a dehumidifier in these areas.
6. Think before squishing: When disturbed or crushed, stink bugs have a tendency to release a bad-smelling odor as a defense measure. Instead, pick them up with a tissue and flush them down the toilet. Do not throw them back outside. They will just turn around and come right back in.
When stink bugs invade the indoors in colder weather, they really raise a stink. Just ask Raupp, “We're going to see large numbers of stink bugs collecting on the sides of people's homes and then trying to move indoors.”