Bug of the Month: Stinkbugs

Picture of a stink bug.
Stinkbugs are a common insect seen in the University Apartments neighborhood.

Appearance

Stink bugs belong to the order of true bugs called Hemiptera. They have piercing sucking mouthparts and straight antennae. Most stink bugs have a characteristic shield shape.

The adult brown mar orated stink bug is about 12 to 17 mm long. Like other stink bugs, its body is nearly as wide as it is long. The adult is mottled brown in color. There are lighter bands on the antennae and dark bands on the front wings. The immature bug, called a nymph, is yellow and red with red eyes. As it grows, the yellow lightens to off-white.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Like other stink bugs, this pest pierces the skin of the fruit in order to feed. After feeding, the insect leaves. Besides being an agricultural pest, the brown marmorated stink bug is often a pest in homes. In summer, the adult bugs gather on homes. The bugs are seeking sheltered places to spend the winter.

The bugs move inside the home through cracks and other openings. They spend the winter hiding inside the walls or in the crawl spaces. When spring comes, the stink bugs become active. As they begin to move around, some of them emerge into the living space.

Inside the home, the bugs often gather on walls and windows seeking a way out. Homeowners are usually upset to find these bugs inside the home. Their size and unpleasant odor make them very unwelcome.

Homeowners often first detect stink bugs by their mass invasions in the fall. They turn up on sunny sides of homes where they warm themselves. Growers often detect them by the damage they cause to their crops or gardens.

Control

Residents can discourage the brown mar orated stink bug from entering the apartments by sealing as many entryways as possible. Window screens should be inspected periodically looking for any holes tears or rips. Any torn or damaged window screens should be reported to the Apartment Facilities Office.

Unfortunately, once stink bugs invade the voids of the home to overwinter, they can be difficult to remove. While overwintering, they do not feed or reproduce. However, they will become active again on a warm winter day or in the spring. When the spring arrives, they disperse from the home and will not return until the next fall.

What can residents do if they see a cluster of stink bugs?

In the early spring, residents sometimes find big green or brown bugs crawling on the walls or flying around the windows in their homes. If they don’t recognize the bugs, residents might swat them or step on them. They quickly learn why these bugs are called “stink bugs”.

Due to the unpleasant initial experience, most residents, upon seeing these bugs again, prefer to use a vacuum cleaner to remove these pests from their walls and windows. However, they sometimes discover that the smell can linger in the vacuum for some time.

Sting bugs are not harmful to humans, they feed on plants and crops and some species feed on other insects and larvae.

If a resident is experiencing overwintering stink bugs, contact Pest Control Supervisor Mario Barcena at the Apartment Facilities Office.

Information gathered from several internet sites including Wikipedia. By Mario Barcena Asst. Director of apartment Facilities.