No, stink bugs do not bite and are not poisonous, but they can fly. They are not harmful to humans or pets. Their foul-smelling odor and penchant for plants, however, make them a nuisance to homeowners everywhere.
Do Stink Bugs Bite?
Unlike other insects such as mosquitoes and ants, brown marmorated stink bugs do not pose a threat to humans or pets. Contrary to what some may believe, stink bugs do not carry disease or suck blood. Additionally, they are not poisonous to humans or animals. However, some people have experienced allergic reactions to the compounds they release. Symptoms of these allergies include a runny nose and dermatitis.
Moreover, stink bugs do not cause structural damage like termites. They are more of an inconvenience than a danger. And while brown marmorated stink bugs are not harmful to humans or animals, they can inflict damage on produce-bearing plants. After all, they are farm pests and have been known to destroy agriculture. According to the USDA, high-risk targets include beans, sweet corn, tomato, and okra, among other crops.
If you have a garden on your property, you must watch out for stink bugs. Inspect your produce for any marks. When they feed, stink bugs pierce the skin of fruits and vegetables before sucking out the juice inside. Young stink bugs (or nymphs) tend to leave shallow marks, while adults can cause more serious damage.
Do Stink Bugs Fly?
Adult stink bugs have the ability to fly. Their wings are folded over their backs. They only spread them out when it is time to flutter away. They can fly a fair distance, averaging 1-3 miles per day and even more if they manage to ride on the current of strong winds. When not in use, their wings mimic the appearance of shields perched on their backs.
Despite their wings, brown marmorated stink bugs have been known to prefer hitchhiking as their mode of travel. Their long legs attach to anything — from vehicles to your personal items — to get to where they need to be. In fact, these scrappy insects first arrived in the United States by accident, having hitchhiked all the way from Asia!
What Do Stink Bugs Look Like?
Brown marmorated stink bugs mate several times, with females laying approximately 28 eggs at a time. The tiny eggs start out light green in color before gradually turning white. These eggs can often be found on the underside of leaves. Once they hatch, young stink bugs or nymphs show off a bright yellow-reddish color with black stripes. They lose this vibrant shade as they age, with adults appearing more similar to tree barks.
These stink bugs have mouthparts that allow them to pierce and suck on crops. They have two straight antennae and six legs. Adults can grow to 12-17 mm long. Their wings fold onto their backs, giving them their characteristic heraldic shield shape. Development from egg to adult takes roughly 538 degree days.
Why Do Stink Bugs Stink?
As their name makes clear, brown marmorated stink bugs do stink but only when they are disturbed or crushed. It is believed that the odor they emit helps to get rid of any potential predators. The scent comes from a gland in their abdomen. Some species are able to spray the chemical several inches away. Once the odor has been released, it can linger in the area for hours.
The pungent odor has been described to smell like dirty socks or dirty diapers. Others liken it to the stench of coriander or cilantro. Interestingly, there are similar chemicals present in both cilantro and the composition of the odor stink bugs release.
Why Do Stink Bugs Come into Your House?
More often than not, brown marmorated stink bugs do not enter your home on purpose. Most of the time, they enter seeking shelter under your roof and within your walls to get away from the cold. This is why homeowners come across stink bugs more frequently during the winter. The good news is, stink bugs do not lay eggs indoors. So, you’ve at least got that going for you.
Stink bugs usually stay in your house to keep warm until the cold season passes but a lot of them die before that happens. Dead stink bugs can attract even more unpleasant pests like snakes, spiders, and wasps. Therefore, it is important to clean out the various nooks and crannies of your home to prevent such a case.
How Long Do Stink Bugs Live?
Brown marmorated stink bugs have an average lifespan of 6-8 months. However, many factors can affect this. Warm temperatures and damp surroundings contribute to a longer lifespan. Other factors include the number of predators and the quality of food sources.
Some stink bugs may appear dead because they have stopped moving. Do not be fooled. While stink bugs do not hibernate, you may observe a decline in their activity. They only do this to conserve energy once they have run out of food.
How to Keep Stink Bugs Away
Brown marmorated stink bugs were first documented in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the 1990s. They are not native to the United States; rather, the smelly pests are believed to have come from China or Japan, having stowed away in shipping containers. Today, brown marmorated stink bugs have been spotted in 43 states.
If you know your area has a stink bug problem, there are some steps you can take to keep the pests away. Once these insects have taken over your home, it can be hard to remove them all. For serious problems we always recommend consulting with an exterminator. However, here are some things you can do to help ward off stink bugs:
- Use a waterproof sealant around your windows to prevent stink bugs from getting inside your house.
- Every door allowing access to your house should have weather strips installed. It is also a good idea to put up some sticky tape in these entrances to trap any airborne stink bugs.
- Check for and seal any cracks in the walls that can be used as entryways.
- Inspect your screen doors regularly to make sure there aren’t any tears or large holes. If you find any, seal them at once.
- Do not overlook your fireplace. Stink bugs can make their way inside your house through fireplaces, so it is best to close them off as well. Fireplace blockers can be a great solution if you have observed bugs regularly entering through this route.
- Check your plumbing and caulk any openings you find.
- Stink bugs are attracted to light. When night falls, keep the lighting to a minimum to prevent them from entering your home.
- Eliminate any debris or vegetation near and along the foundation of your home.
- Store food in airtight containers and make sure your trash bins are sealed to cut off their food supply.
- Inspect your personal belongings when you get home to see if any stink bugs have latched onto them. If you have a lot of items stink bugs have made there way into you can check out portable bed bug heaters. These work by heating your possessions up to a temperature high enough to kill any bed bugs and provide a great option for frequent travelers.
- If you have a garden, make sure to remove weeds regularly.
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, stink bugs may still find a way to get inside your house. These pests usually come in hordes, so an infestation is likely what you’re looking at when you encounter one or two. You can find them in different areas of your home. They can gather outside, within your walls, in the fireplace, in the garden, or other warm and hidden spots.
If you already have stink bugs in your home, here are some tips you can follow to get rid of them:
- Construct a trap by putting soapy water into a metal pan. This trap must be placed beneath a light source and in an area with a lot of stink bugs. The water will drown the smelly pests without triggering their odor release.
- If you encounter a stink bug, do not crush it! Remember: stink bugs emit a strong, sickly smell when threatened or squashed. Instead, quickly grab your vacuum and suck the pests in. They will still release the stench, but at least it won’t spread throughout the house. Discard the bag outside, cleaning the vacuum’s filter immediately to prevent the scent from lingering.
- Use a bug spray. It is best to go for natural repellents than ones that are made up of chemicals. The latter may be harmful to pets and even people.
In severe cases, these solutions may not work. If you find yourself running into the same problem over and over again — even after treatment — you may have a larger infestation on your hands. When this happens, it is time to call for professional help. Pest control experts have more experience and better judgment. Additionally, they possess more effective repellents that can squarely get rid of your stink bug problem. Head over to our exterminator search tool to get in contact with a professional.
After removing the pesky insects, it is critical to re-examine your home. Look for any crevices they may have used as an entryway. Once you have found them, make sure to caulk them immediately. It is also best to run through the prevention tips one more time for good measure.
This is the basic information you must know about brown marmorated stink bugs. While they are not dangerous to humans or pets, they can be a source of annoyance. Now that you are well-aware of the facts, you are better equipped to deal with these smelly pests. With any luck, you will never encounter one in your life. However, with their growing population, that almost seems impossible.