The Bugs are Back: The Start of Stink Bug Season
The arrival of cooler fall temperatures signals the start of stink bug season, when the insects seek the warmth of apartments.
Leave it to a few pests to really stink things up.
The bugs, which are on the rise in the U.S., are particularly uninviting. They are an ugly, annoying, and stubborn pest. Even when crushed or destroyed, they emit a harsh stench that reminds you they don’t go away without making a statement.
Stink bugs are among the many pests that seek shelter in apartments and other residences about this time of the year. Once inside, says the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the critters can find out-of-the-way places to nest and be a nuisance to residents.
“A lot of pests are coming in looking for that shelter as temperatures dip around the country,” says Missy Henriksen, NPMA’s Vice President of Public Affairs. “Stink bugs are definitely an issue.”
Stink bugs making presence known in the U.S.
In the last decade, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) has caused quite a, well, stink. The bugs, which arrived from Asia in the late 1990s, have been detected in 41 states and are a menace to agricultural crops and generally a nuisance to people. The bugs, which quickly reproduce, were blamed for $37 million in apple crop losses in 2010, prompting one member of Congress to organize a public hearing in western Virginia.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is working with scientists to develop traps, sequence the bug’s genome and test the use of parasitic wasps to fend off the pests. Earlier in September, USDA’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station began its second Great Stink Bug Count to determine the most common locations for the insects.
“One of the things that’s really led to the increase in number is there is no native predator,” Henriksen said. “For most of us, stink bugs are really just a nuisance pest.
Routine checks and fixes help keep stink bugs out
Stink bugs like to hang out in undisturbed locations indoors and emerge when people least expect it. Dark, quiet areas and under boxes and clutter are prime nesting spots for stink bugs as they power down in the fall and get ready for mass reproduction in the spring.
Henriksen said the best defense for property owners is to keep stink bugs out by doing some routine checks and fixes of doors, windows, cracks and crevices around the property. Screens with holes on doors and windows, for example, should be replaced. The NPMA recommends the following pest-proofing tips for the fall season:
Pest-proofing tips to keep apartments free of unwanted guests
1. Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys.
2. Eliminate moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
3. Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home using caulk and steel wool.
4. Pay close attention to where utility pipes enter the structure.
5. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
6. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house; keep shrubbery well-trimmed.
7. Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens.
8. Inspect items such as boxes of decorations and grocery bags before bringing them indoors.
9. Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
Those tips go a long way in keeping out other pests that tend to seek shelter this time of the year as well. Mice and rats, cockroaches and spiders can be invasive and pose health hazards while damaging structures.
Henriksen said pest control treatments can help control the stink bug population. But keeping them out to start with is a good first step to extermination.
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