Category Archives: Stink Bug Facts

Facts about stink bugs.

What Attracts Stink Bugs?

They say that an announce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So if you want to prevent stink bugs from invading your home, then you need to know what attracts stink bugs, and figure out how to mitigate the risk of an infestation by preparing your environment accordingly.  In doing so, you will be able to play the game and stay one step ahead of them, and take the necessary preemptive measures in order to exterminate those bugs that have already found their way into your home as well as keeping additional bugs from coming in.

So having said that, what attracts stink bugs? Here is a list of the most common things:

1. Fruit

Stink bugs are one hundred percent pure vegetarians. They feed on fruits and vegetables exclusively. If you leave a bowl of fresh fruit out on the kitchen table in your home, you can be sure that sooner or later, if there are any stink bugs dwelling within the four walls of your home, they will eventually make their way to your fruit bowl and begin to help themselves and feast upon it.

Or if you have a garden where you are growing fresh produce, in the back yard of your home, you can be sure to find stink bugs there, if there are any to be found.

The same applies, obviously, to a farm. If you are growing fruits or vegetables on your farm, you have to be vigilant against the potential looming threat of stink bugs descending upon your crops and eating them, thereby resulting in the loss of resalable food.

2. Light

Like many other species of insects, stink bugs are attracted to sources of light. That is why you will very often find stink bugs that are already inside your home flocking toward your windows during the day time. They want to get out into the sunlight.

Likewise, that is why you will find many stink bugs from outside perched on your window screens at night. That is because they are trying to get inside your house, where they see that the lights are on within your home.

3. Heat

In addition to light, stink bugs are also attracted to sources of heat. (So the two often go hand in hand – light and heat.) This, in fact, is the primary reason why stink bugs are trying to invade our interior spaces – our homes and our offices and other indoor buildings and places, in the first place:

They are instinctively seeking out warmth. You may have noticed that stink bugs are most prevalent during the onset of the autumn months. That is because as the temperature begins to cool, they start making preparations for the winter by seeking out a warm place to take refuge in. And once they are able to detect that our homes are sources of heat, they will do whatever it takes to get inside.

And many of us know doubt can attest to the fact that these little buggers are extremely persistent when it comes to trying to get into our homes. They will do whatever it takes. They will find any crack or any gap in our windows, doors, foundations, outside air vents, chimneys, or what have you, until they are able to somehow get inside.

4. Aggregation Pheromones

If you have ever seen stink bugs in clusters, that is because they are social insects by nature. They emanate what is known as an aggregation pheromone, in an effort to alert other bugs of the same species of their presence, and thereby invite or attract them towards themselves. When others detect this pheromone, they will instinctively flock toward it, honing in on the source of the scent, until they meet the rest of their kind. Hence, the term aggregation.

This pheromone is not to be confused with the pungent odor that they emanate as a means of self-defense when they are attacked or threatened. That is entirely different than this pheromone.

So know that we have an idea of what attracts stink bugs, the next step is to figure out how we can use this knowledge to our advantage, in order to play the game and stop them dead in their tracks.

One approach to take would be to figure out how you can strategically place any of these sources of attraction, such as fruit, light, and heat, in an area whereby you can set up a trap…. You can use any of these items as bait to lure stink bugs toward it, and then trap them.

For example, if you set out a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, and you find stink bugs flocking toward it, you can then trap the bugs in the bowl by covering it with an air tight lid. This is just one example of how you could set up a trap, based on your knowledge of what attracts stink bugs.

Another example might be to set up a traditional bug light zapper outside on your back yard patio. Because stink bugs are attracted to sources of light, if they see this light in your back yard at night, they will quite naturally be drawn toward it… and of course once they make contact, they won’t be bugging you any more (pun intended).

Or, you can use light as a means to lure stink bugs out of your house. You can turn on your patio lights or set up a bug zapper outside of your house, and turn off all of the lights inside your house. Keep your doors or your windows open, and let the stink bugs fly out, toward the source of light.

And as for how you can use stink bug aggregation pheromones to your advantage, there are a couple of ways you can approach this:

You can let nature take its course. Stink bugs will naturally be drawn to one another. So once you’ve got one stink bug trapped or lured toward where you want it to be, you can be assured that it is only a matter of time before other stink bugs will also descend upon that place.

Or, you can purchase a commercially available stink bug aggregation pheromone spray and use it as a means to lure stink bugs toward it.  There are a number of commercial products available whereby the chemical composition of this pheromone has been synthesized and reproduced and packaged into aerosol spray cans which can be used as a form of “bug spray”.

All you have to do is simply spray it into the area on or near the trap that you want to lure them into – this could be a container, a strip of fly paper, or any place where you know you could easily reach them and vacuum them up if you were to choose to do so.

Let’s learn more about how we can use the knowledge of what attracts stink bugs to our advantage.

 

 

1) In efforts to exterminate them, need to know how to play the game.6) Conclusion

What Is A Stink Bug?

What is a stink bug, you ask?

Well, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a mysterious new insect in town. Well, it’s not exactly “new” in terms of its place on the evolutionary scale of time. But it’s “new” in terms of the fact that it has mysteriously just emerged on the North American continent only within the past couple of decades.

Prior to this point in time, for thousands of years, stink bugs have only been known to live within the domestic regions of the Asian subcontinent, primarily in Taiwan and Korea.

So fret not, for if you had never seek a stink bug before until just recently, then you are not alone. This particular species of insect is, in fact, new to the North American continent. But somehow or the other, the very first generation of stink bugs was discovered in the United States.

And “ground zero” of the first ever official sighting of stink bugs on record in the United States happens to be Allentown, Pennsylvania back in the year 1998. Nobody knows exactly how the first wave stink bugs came to the United States. One can only theorize. The most prevalent theory is that they may have come here inadvertently as stowaways aboard a freight ship while importing goods from Asia. There is clearly no way that they could have flown here from there. So they would have had to have been transported here by mistake.

But what exactly is a stink bug then? The official zoological name given to this species of insect by the worldwide consortium of entomologists is halyomorpha halys.

Physical Characteristics

In terms of their physical characteristics, they are most often described as looking “reptilian” in nature. This is due to the rugged, leathery, shell-like appearance of the wings on their back. But that is essentially where the similarity between stink bugs and reptiles comes to an end.

They have antennae which are used as feelers.

They have a proboscis, which they use to pierce the skin of fruits and vegetables and to suck the juices out of them.

They have six legs.

But what makes stink bugs unique, setting it apart from all other members of the insect world, is the presence of stink glands which are located on the dorsal side of its abdomen.

Unique among members of the animal and insect kingdom, stink bugs exhibit a unique behavior as their self-defense mechanism: They release a pungent odor as a means to ward off potential predators. This is essentially similar to the behavior of a skunk. This stench is by no means lethal or toxic, but it is enough to drive animals, insects, and even humans away.

Many people report that these fumes bear a strong resemblance to that of the herb known as cilantro. And rightly so, because the composition of the odor consists of trans-2-decenal, which is coincidentally also the same chemical compound found naturally in cilantro!

The Stink Bug Diet

No, we’re not talking about humans eating stink bugs (although I’m sure that would be a sure-fire way of losing weight – but that’s a whole separate topic altogether). We are talking about the dietary habits of stink bugs themselves.

Stink bugs are 100% vegan. They eat fruits and vegetables only. They will ate anything from apples to pears, tomatoes to bell peppers, and more.

The Agricultural Threat

Having said this about their diet being purely vegan-based,  this calls to the forefront a very serious problem that the agricultural industry is facing in the United States: Stink bugs are destroying our crops. They will swarm in on crops and start feeding on them. They pierce the skin of a fruit or vegetable and start sucking the juices out of them, thus rendering the fruit spoiled for human consumption.

Believe it or not, this has become a priority within the highest levels of the US government, as the stink bug threat can cost potentially millions of dollars in lost revenue and lost food produce.

So what is the US government doing about the stink bug problem? What are they doing in order to quell their population growth? While a number of pesticide solutions have been tested and proven effective against stink bugs, the use of pesticides may not necessarily be the best choice. There are a number of different ways of dealing with the stink bug problem that are being explored.

Stink Bug Predators – The Food Chain

There are no known predators of stink bugs. Some household pets may try to eat them but that is highly unrealistic, considering the stench that stink bugs emanate whenever they are threatened.

The closest thing that is known to exist as a predator for stink bugs is the wasp: But rather than killing stink bugs, they will feed on their eggs that they lay.

Lifespan of Stink Bugs

Stink bugs have a lifespan of not more than 6 to 9 months on average. Yet ironically it is during this sort lifespan that they are able to multiply by hundreds each and every year, thereby resulting in the alarmingly explosive rate of population growth that we have been witnessing over the past couple of decades.

Reproductive Characteristics of Stink Bugs

Stink bugs lay eggs. Typically you will find that they lay their eggs in such a place so as to be attached to the underside of leaves on trees. And contrary to popular urban legends and myths, stink bugs do not lay eggs indoors. So you will never find a colony of newborn baby stink bugs emerging from inside your attic, basement, or within the confines of the walls of your home. They need the climate, the environmental conditions, and their surroundings to be precisely what is ideal for reproduction.

So one thing you can definitely count on is that once stink bugs start to colonize your home, they cannot multiply. Therefore, if you find that the number of stink bugs in your home seems to be increasing rather than decreasing, it is not because of reproduction, but because more and more stink bugs are aggregating in your home, which brings us to the next point:

Aggregation Pheromone


Perhaps you may have heard of the term “pheromone” in the context of sexual attraction between males and females of a particular species. Well, stink bugs have a similar pheromone, which is not necessarily used for mating purposes. It is known as an aggregation pheromone, and it is used for stink bugs to socialize with one another… to invite others to come and congregate on a particular location.

So if you find that once one stink bug gets into your home, more and more seem to be following it, it is precisely for this reason: They are emanating aggregation pheromones to attract others of the same species towards them.

Sources of Attraction

Stink bugs are attracted to sources of light and heat. This is why you will typically find that stink bugs inside your home will more often than not will be crawling on your windows. They want to go toward the source of light. During the daytime, they want to go toward the sunlight. And at night, stink bugs will flock toward the windowsills of homes where the lights are on inside.

The same applies to heat, which we will explain in further detail below.

Autumn And Stink Bugs

Did you know that the months of September and October are typically regarded as the peak of “stink bug season” in North America? Indeed, you will find that the vast majority of infestations of homes by stink bugs generally tend to occur during these two months out of the year, more than during any other months of the year, combined.

This is because it is during the onset of autumn that the atmospheric temperature in North America begins to drop and the autumnal equinox is reached, thereby rendering the number of hours of daylight to become less and less. As a result, stink bugs will begin to instinctively seek out sources of heat and light where they may take refuge to ride out the autumn and winter months.

Hibernation

Once stink bugs find a suitable sanctuary wherein they can take refuge during the autumn and winter months , they will end up going into a state of hibernation. In some cases, though, they may remain awake, due to the abundance of heat and light inside your home. So occasionally you might see stink bugs tarrying in your house, but this is less common.

How To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs Without The Stink

Getting rid of stink bugs without triggering the release of their trademark stink can be quite challenging. But there are a number of ways this can achieved. These methods typically will involve methods of stealth, such as by setting traps and what not.

Having said that, here are some tips on how to get rid of stink bugs while avoiding getting a whiff of that pungent odor sprayed on your face, arms, clothes, or your furniture.

Where Do Stink Bugs Live?

One way to combat the stink bug menace to our society is to take the fight to their home territory, which means you have to arm yourself with the knowledge of where do stink bugs live, what are the attributes of the type of place they are most apt to take up domicile and what are the places they would absolutely avoid. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes.

In other words, if you want to combat the stink bug problem at its core, you have to attack the problem at its roots. You have to do whatever it takes to make its current habitat inhospitable or unfavorable for their species to perpetuate their occupation of your home.

And this can very often mean taking measures that have more far-reaching and long-term effects to fend of these bugs, as opposed to simply opting for some one-time “quick fix” job that will kill, exterminate, or shoo away any stink bugs that are currently in your home or on your property on a temporary basis, only to have them return again.

So let’s take an in-depth look into where do stink bugs live.

Being that this species of insect happens to be native to the localized nations of southeast Asia, concentrated predominantly in the Koreas, Japan and Taiwan, and were brought here half way across the world to North America seemingly by accident (at least that is the prevailing theory – that they were inadvertently brought here aboard luggage in an airplane or cargo aboard a freight ship) it follows that stink bugs will instinctively seek out environmental conditions that most closely resemble those of their native habitat.

As for where do stink bugs live now that they have come ashore to the United States, there have been confirmed reports of stink bug sightings in at least 38 of the 48 contiguous states.

Based on extensive research that has been conducted by entomologists, here is what we know for sure about stink bugs:

  • They actively seek out sources of light. Therefore, even at night, you will find that any stink bugs that happen to be flying around at night will be apt to gravitate toward the windows of houses where the lights are on. And as for those who are already indoors, they will seek out sources of light within the house and gravitate toward it as well.
  • They actively seek out sources of heat. Stink bugs hate the cold weather and will actively look for places to go where they can escape the cold and stay warm. This is precisely the reason why you will find that there is always an annual surge in reported occurrences of stink bugs clinging to your window screens or actively seeking to get into your house, during the autumn. They are looking to escape from the cold weather and have found your house to be a good source of heat. As for those stink bugs who are unable to seek shelter from the cold, they will typically go into a state of hibernation to ride out the cold winter months.
  • During the temperate months of the spring and summer seasons, stink bugs will most typically be found outdoors in orchards, gardens, and on agricultural properties such as farms.
  • Stink bugs lay eggs on the underside of trees, so it follows that most typically the mother and the babies will linger near the tree in question.
  • Stink bugs feed on fruits and vegetables, and so therefore it will be very common for you to find them in gardens and on cultivated farmland where fresh produce is being grown.

Armed with this knowledge of where do stink bugs live, you can plan for how to deal with them accordingly:

  • The threat of stink bugs entering your house reaches its peak during the onset of autumn since they are seeking out warm places to settle in to escape from the cold weather. As for the summer months, the threat of stink bugs entering your house diminishes significantly since they will instinctively seek to be outdoors where they can feed on fruits and vegetables (unless they can find sources of these within your house to feed on) and where they can mate and reproduce (they lay their eggs on the underside of tree leaves, and so unless you have any live plants in your house, they would not be able to reproduce inside your home).
  • Being that stink bugs feed on fruits and vegetables, you need to be extremely vigilant particularly if you happen to maintain a a fruit / vegetable garden in your front / back yard of your home. And if you have any open fruits and vegetables inside your house, you should make sure these are covered at all times (unless you are intentionally leaving them out as bait, a means to lure the bugs out and you intend to entrap or to kill them once they reach it.
  • If you have a lot of trees near on your property, you need to be extremely vigilant in that your house will pose as an easy target for them to flock towards come the onset of the autumn season.

 

Dealing with stink bugs requires a plan. Obviously if you only encounter a stink bug here and there, inside your house once in a while, it might be a simple matter of vacuuming them up… or outside your house you might try to shoo them away. But if you are dealing with stink bugs on a more frequent basis or in much larger numbers, then you will need to focus on a more long term plan for how to ward them off.

Your plan should include a means for cleanly and efficiently luring them out from their hiding places and entrapping them or exterminating on them on the spot. It should be done in such a way so as not to cause them to emit that trademark cilantro-like stench of theirs, which is their typical response to when they are attacked or frightened.

Your plan should also include a means of deterrence: This means sealing off your home so that stink bugs cannot gain access inside. It also means repelling stink bugs from coming near your property, your garden, or your crops.

Understanding where do stink bugs live is one piece of the puzzle to help you devise that plan.

 

 

 

Can Stink Bugs Fly?

One of the questions that people who have ever encountered stink bugs crawling around in their house or on their windows is: Can stink bugs fly?

This particular species of insect looks like a cross between a reptile and a cockroach, neither of which are capable of flight. So if you ever come across a stink bug, it might be easy to get complacent and to fall into a false sense of security, believing that they are just some slow moving bugs (since you might see them standing still most of the time, or just crawling around at a snail’s pace most of the time).

But the fact of the matter is that stink bugs can and do fly.

Now, if you are the type of person who is totally frightened by stink bugs, then a word of caution before you read any further, as you may not like what you are about to read.

Stink bugs are notorious for dive-bombing into a room. They don’t just casually fly in. They will zero in on a target and drop right in, accompanied by an extremely pronounced buzzing sound. You could be sitting at your desk with your laptop while reading this, and out of nowhere, a stink bug could come crash landing onto your laptop screen, taking you completely by surprise.

The funny thing is, their act of dive-bombing their way onto a table, a wall, or some other surface, is not necessarily a deliberate act of hostility. It is more like errant flying. It is more frightening and annoying than anything else, in actuality.  As a matter of fact, this dive-bombing behavior can be likened to that of a Japanese kamikaze attack. (During World War II, Japanese warriors would deliberately dive bomb their aircraft directly into targets on the ground, committing suicide in the process of completing their mission.)

These four-winged insects typically will only fly when the temperature is warm enough; some researchers have placed it at fifty degrees Fahrenheit or more. And typically they fly when they are in search of food or when they are migrating in search of a warmer climate (or a warm habitat such as a house).

I would not recommend that you attempt to swat at a stink bug to make it fly away. Unlike a regular house fly that would fly away unscathed and leave you alone, stink bugs will not leave without putting up a fight. Their instinctive initial reaction to being attacked is not to fly away but to release a foul odor as their form of self-defense. This is similar in behavior to what a skunk does when it is threatened, as skunks will do the same thing, releasing a noxious odor when they are attacked.

So what should you do if you see a stink bug? If simply ignoring it is not an option for you, then you should either attempt to vacuum it up, scoop it up with a paper towel as quickly as you can, or attempt to lure it into some kind of a trap. If the bug happens to already be near a window or a door, do whatever you can to gently shoo it away and nudge it in the general direction of the outside world. (Don’t do it too aggressively, otherwise it will unleash its noxious fumes on you.)

The bottom line is, yes, stink bugs can fly. But it absolutely should not be a cause for alarm for you that this is the case.

Baby Stink Bugs Are NOT Cute!

I don’t care what anybody says. Baby stink bugs are NOT cute!

Typically babies of most every species of living thing on the face of the Earth can be regarded as cute, for the most part. But stink bugs are, in my opinion, the exception to that rule.

If grown up, adult stink bugs are as hideous and creepy looking as they are, then their offspring cannot be that much far off in terms of lack of cuteness.

But I digress. Let’s focus on what are some of the important things you may need to know about baby stink bugs, how they may affect your life, and what can we do keep the stink bug population from multiplying and producing more offspring.

Do Stink Bugs Lay Eggs Indoors?

First and foremost, one common misconception is that once a bunch of stink bugs invade your house they will lay their eggs and multiply. This particular misconception has, thankfully, been debunked. The good news is that stink bugs will not lay eggs within the confines of the four walls of your home.

They need a particular habitat in order to mate and to multiply. The most common place where they will lay their eggs is on the underside of the leaves on    trees, and that too, they will only reproduce during warm, temperate weather. In other words, they don’t lay their eggs within the walls of your home. The average female stink bug will lay as many as 400 eggs over the course of her lifetime. And that lifetime will typically be not more than several months to a year at most. With a gestational period of 50 days from the time the egg is laid until it hatches into a baby stink bug and then grows into a full blown adult, it is no wonder that the stink bug population has grown as explosively as it has over the past couple of decades since they were first brought over to the western hemisphere from Asia.

So thankfully that’s one less thing you have to worry about. You can rest assured that if a finite number of stink bugs invade your house, they will not reproduce. You won’t have to worry about an army of baby stink bugs appearing out of nowhere within your house. (They may be able to attract other stink bugs from the outside, but that’s a whole different problem.)

Population Control: Killing Baby Stink Bugs Before They Hatch

In an effort to find a solution to the stink bug population crisis, one of the things that researches are looking it as a means to keep their birth rates down. If there are no other animals or insects out there in the wild to prey upon stink bugs, then surely there must be a way to stunt their population growth by slowing down the rate at which new stink bugs are born.

Researchers have yet to identify whether stink bugs have any natural predators in the food chain. But what they have discovered is that there is a particular species of wasp that happens to feed upon eggs of unborn baby stink bugs. So here’s an idea that sounds crazy enough that it just might work: Introduce these wasps into the habitat where there are colonies of unborn baby stink bug eggs. In theory, these wasps will devour the eggs, thus preventing them from ever hatching and thus being born. So one way how to kill stink bugs is by siccing predators on them.

This sounds like a good idea, but the only problem with this is that you would be exchanging one problem for another: You’re getting rid of the stink bugs, but then now you’ve got a potential wasp problem on your hands. This cyclical problem is sometimes referred to as the “scorched earth policy” – in order to defend your land against an invader, you destroy the very land you are trying to defend!

Killing baby stink bugs is seen as one viable means to keep their population in check. While it’s not feasible for the average person to do this (after all, how often does the average Tom, Dick, or Harry walk around inspecting the underside of leaves for stink bug eggs?), it is something that entomologists, farmers, and gardeners should be aware of and be on the look out for.

What Do Stink Bugs Smell Like?

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If you have ever come in close contact with a stink bug and tried to either squash it or shoo it away, then you most probably have gotten a whiff of a mysteriously pungent odor. Make no mistake, that odor that they emanate is nature’s self defense mechanism that has been bestowed upon them. If any predator attempts to harm the stink bug, they will be sprayed with this repulsive odor as a deterrent to keep the predator at bay.

You most probably are already familiar with the fact that skunks do pretty much the same thing: If they are frightened or attacked, they will unleash a foul odor that gets on your skin and clothes and is downright unbearable for most animals and humans.

If you are wondering what do stink bugs smell like, then you are not alone. Everyone who smells the stink bug self-defense odor recognizes it as something familiar. In case you haven’t guessed what it is, it is none other than cilantro.

Cilantro is a type of herb commonly used as an ingredient for cooking many dishes. The irony is that while the foul stench that emanates from stink bugs is rather putrid, the smell of cilantro is an extremely pleasant and delectable odor (and taste) when either consumed by itself or cooked with food.

So what is the explanation as to how an insect odor can bear strong resemblance to an herb, and why the similar odor is repulsive when emanating from a stink bug yet when you smell it in food, it can cause the taste buds to drool?

The answer is that the chemical composition of the odor that is released by the stink bug consists of trans-2-decenal and trans-2-Octena, which happen to coincidentally be used as food additives. Interestingly, these same chemical compounds happen to also be present in cilantro!!

More research needs to be conducted into this matter, but if you love cilantro, then you probably wouldn’t find the odor emanated by stink bugs to be all that offensive to you (although psychologically, just knowing that the smell is being generated by a creepy looking insect would be a huge appetite-killer)! And conversely, if you aren’t exactly a big fan of cilantro to begin with, then you might not react to kindly to that odor.

But what is known for sure is that this odor is what is used as the stink bug’s innate self-defense mechanism against predators. I guess not too many other animals and insects in the wild appreciate the smell of fresh cilantro either!

One issue of concern for many is that one or two stink bugs here and there that give off this odor might not be a big deal. You can always use an aerosol air freshener to mask that odor. But what if you have a whole swath of stink bugs to deal with and they have all taken up residence within your house. Your walls, your sheets, clothes, carpet, or furniture is going to end up smelling like cilantro and really stinking up the home and your property, or even your body.

That’s why it is not always in your best interests to go around squashing stink bugs. It is always better to use some other non-violent means to either displace them or exterminate them. For example, you can find some way to lure them out of your house while still alive. Or you can set up traps for them where they will become encased within an enclosure where they will either drown, suffocate, or starve, or you can then dispose of them outside.

Check out the Youtube video above! If you were to blindfold yourself and be presented with one cup that contains the squashed remains of a stink bug that has stunk up the cup with the its stench, and a second cup that contains cilantro, and you were to smell both of these, would you be able to tell which one is which? Which one is the cilantro and which one is the stink bug?

You decide.

Asian Stink Bugs – The Real Immigration Problem In America

If you thought that illegal immigrants crossing the border into the United States from Mexico was a real threat to this country, then you haven’t spent too much time in the company of the Asian stink bug, have you?

The Asian stink bug, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug, or just “stink bug” for short, is a relatively new species here in the United States. I say “new”, not because it is new in terms of having evolved from another species recently, but “new” in the sense that that these unwelcome visitors to our country have not only freeloaded their way into this country but have overstayed their welcome by a long shot – at this point, at least a decade or two.

The Asian stink bug, as the name implies, is an indigenous insect species that is native to the Asian subcontinent. For thousands of years, they have been confined to the the southeast Asian countries of Japan, the Koreas, and China. That means that for millions of years, up until barely a couple of decades ago, the western hemisphere was completely free and devoid of this species of bug.

But a funny thing happened to change all of that. Nobody knows exactly when or how stink bugs came to the United States. But what we do know is that the very first ever officially documented sighting of a member of this species was in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in September of 1998. How these little buggers got here remains a mystery to this day, although various theories abound.

The most popular and the most widely accepted theories are that either a handful of stink bugs must have accidentally gotten into somebody’s luggage that was brought overseas on an airplane from Asia, or a handful of stink bugs must have accidentally been packaged into a crate of commercial products being imported into the United States from one of these Asian countries on a freight ship.

In either case, these stowaways have now been introduced into an alien habitat (alien to them). Funny thing is, you might expect that these bugs ought to have perished, as they are not in their indigenous habitat. The climate is different here in the west. The type of food available to them might be different. Their predators and prey may be different as well. You would think that the stink bugs would have a hard time adjusting to life here in the west (don’t all people who immigrate to the United States require a period of adjustment during which life is a little bit awkward until they get acclimated to life here)?

But such was not the case. Nobody knows exactly how many stink bugs were brought over here during that one fateful flight or boat ride from overseas. But one thing we do know is that if you fast forward 15 years or so until the present day, you will find that there are now millions of stink bugs living in the United States, and their population has multiplied and spread out at an alarming rate. At least 38 states in the North American continent have documented the presence of stink bugs within their territorial borders.

Are stink bugs harmful to humans?

The question arises as to whether or not stink bugs pose any type of threat to human beings, to indigenous animals, or to the environment, now that they are here in the west. And the answer to that is not exactly.

By not exactly, I mean to say that stink bugs aren’t harmful to humans or to animals. They don’t bite. They don’t want to suck your blood. They don’t even sting. In fact, if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. They have no beef to pick with animals or humans. They aren’t exactly bitter about their immigrant status here. They seem to be getting along just fine.

The stink bug problem, at least as far as the average American household is concerned, is really more of a nuisance than anything. If you are scared of bugs, if they gross you out, or annoy you, then of course stink bugs are not exactly the most pleasant species of bugs to look at. They look like reptile-insect hybrids rather than plain old bugs. Plus, if you have ever tried to squash or shoo away a stink bug before, then you no doubt already know that these critters have a unique self-defense mechanism: They unleash a foul odor whenever they are frightened, not unlike how skunks do.

Threat To Agriculture

As is the case with the immigration problem in America, the federal government is, believe it or not, also monitoring the stink bug situation very careful. In fact, the federal government has made it their business to deal with the stink bug crisis in the United States.

Why?

Because there is one area of grave concern insofar as these bugs are concerned: They have found to be a threat to the agricultural industry. You see, stink bugs are herbivores. They feed on fruits and vegetables. So if you are a farmer growing crops of most any type of produce, then you are faced with the threat of a potential stink bug infestation. If left unchecked and undeterred, your crops will succumb to these bugs, as they swarm in and feed on it.

They will pierce the skin of a fruit or a vegetable and inject it with their saliva, and suck up the juice from within, and then fly away once they are satiated. There is nothing worse than having to eat a piece of fruit that has been consumed by a stink bug! They have already cost an untold amount of monetary damage to agricultural crops in the United States.

Therefore, the US Food And Drug Administration (USFDA) has already made it their business to combat this threat. How is that for putting your hard earned tax dollars to work? The agency has sent out people into the field to study these bugs, to understand what makes them tick, to find out how their natural predators are, what are their vulnerabilities, and more.

Should I kill them with pesticides?

Using pesticides to combat them is always a last resort, due to the harm they can cause to plants, animals, and even to humans. (There is no such thing as a 100% safe pesticide. There is always a trade off.) There are many other ways to deal with the problem. For example, the government is looking for ways to stunt their population growth by introducing a species of wasp into the habitats where stink bugs dwell. These wasps are known to eat unborn stink bug eggs (but won’t attack an already born stink bug). The more they can eat, the fewer stink bugs will be born.

Should I squash them?

As for just plain old killing them, you could of course do that. The only problem is that the nefarious odor that they emanate can get on your skin, get in your clothes, in your carpeting, in your walls, and in your furniture. And I’m sure you don’t want that.

Even though they say that their odor smells like the same odor as fresh cilantro (hmm… yummy cilantro), I’m sure the association between stink bugs and cilantro is not one that you would care to leave an indelible imprint of in your mind.

Fortunately, there are many other ways how to kill stink bugs, how to prevent them from invading your home, and how to deter them from destroying your crops (or your own garden, for that matter).

Stink bugs are here to stay and will likely be with us for the foreseeable future. So if the Asian stink bug immigration problem has truly become the crisis that it appears to be, then perhaps we should ask our elected officials to make this into a campaign issue!

Where Do Stink Bugs Come From?

If you have wondered where do stink bugs come from, you are not alone.  Even though much research has been to learn about this particular species of insect over the past decade or so, there is still much more that remains to be explored. If you are reading this article from a computer in North America, then in case you are wondering, stink bugs are not native to the western hemisphere at all. To make a long story short, stink bugs are natives of southeastern Asia. For the millions of years that this species of insect has been roaming the earth, it has always been confined to that particular geographic region of the world.

In fact, most people living in the west may not even realize this, but stink bugs have only been present in North America for about a decade or so! Indeed, after millions of years of natural evolution taking its course, stink bugs, which were once indigenous to a far away, remote part of the planet, now have been introduced into a foreign environment, throwing a monkey wrench into the ecosystem. And now we in the west are having to contend with a stink bug population that has experienced explosive growth. Their numbers have been growing at an alarmingly exponential rate each and every single year over the past decade through reproduction.

So now that we know where stink bugs come from, the question arises as to how exactly they got here in the first place? If they isolated to the Asian subcontinent since the beginning of time, how did they suddenly appear here in the western world, thousands of miles away? Surely they did not fly here! Surely they did not migrate here like some animals do, in search of food. What event transpired that brought them here seemingly overnight?

While nobody knows for sure exactly how and when the first stink bug arrived here in the western hemisphere, what is known is that the first officially reported and documented sighting of a species of stink bug was in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the year 1998. There are various theories abound as to how the first stink bugs might have come here. One theory is that a number of them may have been brought here inadvertently as stowaways aboard a cargo ship, having been brought aboard unnoticed. It is also possible that they were somehow brought into the United States by having been concealed inside an oblivious passenger’s luggage aboard an international flight from China, Japan, Taiwan, or the Koreas.

Whatever the case may be, scientists, and the United States Department of Agriculture have a vested interest in learning as much as they can about the stink bug epidemic in the United States. In just the span of a mere decade and a half, the stink bug population has spread to well over 38 states.

While stink bugs are typically not deemed to be harmful to humans or to any other forms of life for that matter, there is one major problem that they pose: They are a race of herbivores. Therefore, they feed on fruits and vegetation found in the wild. In the United States, stink bugs have accounted for a substantial loss of revenue to the agricultural industry due to the fact that stink bugs will feed on crops in the wild. Therefore, the government is actively looking for a solution to the stink bug problem.

How have these critters managed to survive in a non-native environment? The answer is simply that stink bugs have no known predators in the food chain. There are no other animals or insects that feed on living stink bugs…. The only exception to this is that there are certain species of wasps that are known to feed on the unhatched eggs of stink bugs.

And as far as adaptation to the climate is concerned, stink bugs are notorious for seeking shelter in warm indoor spaces during the autumn and winter months. Those that are not able to seek shelter will enter a state of hibernation to get them through the cold winters.

While they do not reproduce indoors, they are capable of reproducing at an alarming rate. The average female stink bug is known to produce as many as 400 fertilized eggs during its lifetime, that lifetime typically not exceeding a year at most.

The average lifespan of stink bugs varies from a few days, weeks, to even several months, depending on how well they are able to adapt to the climate and environmental factors.

So it is no longer a question of where do stink bugs come from, but how can we deal with them now that they are here?

Do Stink Bugs Bite?

Do stink bugs bite? The way these critters look, one could easily imagine that they do. They look like miniature reptiles due the “shield-like” appearance of their upper body that appears to have the same texture as that of a reptile. They possess two large antennae and long legs, and if you have ever seen the underbelly of one of these creatures, it might just creep out anyone who possesses even a mild case of entomophobia (the fear of insects). If you were to see one of these bugs, you might not hold it past them that they are capable of biting people or animals.

But the fact of the matter is that stink bugs do not make it a point to bite humans or animals. They are not such that they are wont to suck the blood of any particular person or animal. They are not even carnivorous. (Stink bugs are actually vegetarians. They feed primarily off of fruits and vegetables.)

Stink bugs do possess a proboscis (a needle-like appendage that protrudes from the front of an insect) that serves as their mouths. The proboscis is used for piercing the skin of their food, be it an apple, a pear, a grape, or any other type of fruit for example, and then sucking the juice out of the fruit in order to consume it.

But that is all that the proboscis is used for. It is used for piercing food in order to consume it. It is not used in order to bite human beings or animals. There is a however a great deal of conflicting information on the the Internet as to whether or not stink bugs do actually bite or not.

On one hand, you will find that there are many people posting in the discussion forums online that they swear by the fact that stink bugs can and do bite, because they supposedly have actually been bitten by one (or at least by what they thought was a stink bug).

On the other hand, research generally indicates that stink bugs do not, simply because they do not possess the physical capability to do so. This assertion is also supported by the fact in nature, we observe that stink bugs rely on the emanation of a repulsive stench as their self-defense mechanism against predators. There has been no evidence to indicate that stink bugs bite their predators in self-defense or that they bite any other would-be prey (they have none, since they are herbivorous creatures). Instead, they rely solely on this stench in order to drive away potential threats. (Hence, the name “stink” bug.)

Of course, if you you do manage to come into close contact with a stink bug and trap it in a corner where it is unable to flee and fly away, and you were to harass it to the point where even after releasing its trademark odor, you stand your ground firm and continue to threaten it, it may very well reflexively react and seek to bite you as a last resort in order to attempt to drive you away.

If you do suspect that you have been bitten by a stink bug, you should seek to treat it right away. You will know that you have been bitten by a stink bug if you start to feel irritation on the part of the skin where the stink bug had come in contact with you and the area starts to swell. While a stink bug bite may not be life threatening, it is something that requires prompt attention, as any other insect bite would.

Do stink bugs bite? Not unless their foul odor is not driving away their perceived threat and they are being physically threatened. There are many easy ways to thwart the threat of stink bugs and kill them without ever feeling that you were under any threat of being bit. You can use a vacuum to suck them up, you can set up stink bug traps, and you can safeguard your home against the invasion of stink bugs from the outside. Learn some tips on stink bug control.

Are Stink Bugs Poisonous?

Among the numerous fears that entomophobics (people who have a fear of insects) harbor toward insects is that they might bite, and that if they bite, their bite might in fact be poisonous to some degree, whether it results in a minor irritation, or worse it might be debilitating, or in the worst case it may inevitably prove to be fatal. Unfortunately, stink bugs are also lumped together into the category of such frighteningly creepy insects that are believed to bite humans and that they might be poisonous.

The good news is that stink bugs are not poisonous at all. In fact, stink bugs are not even known to bite human beings, not even when they feel threatened. What stink bugs do actually do, however, when they are attacked or when they feel threatened, is release a pungent odor which is noxious enough to drive away and repel most any predator.

So could it be said that this odor that stink bugs release might be poisonous? The good news is that it is not the case. The foul stench that stink bugs release isn’t such that exposure to it might irritate your respiratory system or poison you if inhaled. At worst, it is merely an annoying odor that is strong enough to cause you to step away from the bug and react with repulsion, this giving the stink bug enough time to get away.

In fact, generally speaking, stink bugs are not harmful to human beings in any way… at least not physically to humans. (They cause harm to humans in other ways indirectly…financially for example. For example, they can wreak financial havoc on a farmer’s crop production when it is infested by a swarm of stink bugs that have to come to feed off of the fruits the farmer is growing.) Otherwise, stink bugs don’t pose any sort of direct physical threat to human beings themselves. They sure may not exactly be the most attractive insects that anyone has ever laid eyes on (but then again, is there any?), given their reptilian visage. And without a doubt nobody actually likes having them around. And there are many people feel downright threatened and intimidated by their mere presence in a room.

But the fact of the matter is that they are in fact benign and harmless. If you see one crawling on the wall somewhere in your house, you need not worry. They are not going to bother you. They are not wont to crawl on people. They are not likely to go fly buzzing around your head aimlessly (although they do make a buzzing sound when they fly). They aren’t out to sting you or suck your blood like some other insects do. In fact, stink bugs are actually herbivorous. They thrive exclusively on fruits and vegetables, which is what makes them such a threat to the crops that farmers grow. (Now if you are an etomophobic person, they may extremely frightening to you. But you can rest assured that this particular species of insect is harmless and is should not be a cause of fear in your mind.)

And the bottom line is that stink bugs are not poisonous at all.