The Occasional Stinky Invaders

It’s…Stink bug Time!


The fall season brings to mind many enticing images such as bonfires, fresh apples, and cool evenings; however, what you probably have not daydreamed about is the advent of stink bug season!


But ready or not, fall is on the way, and stink bugs all over Georgia are preparing to overwinter.

And if you don’t take precautions now, you may end up sharing your home with them!


What is a stink bug anyway?


Stink bugs are classified within the order Hemiptera and the family Pentatomidae. They belong to a large group of insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts (sounds lovely right?). This simply means they feed by, you guessed it, piercing the food source (typically plants) and sucking their food…think an insect drinking straw. Another typical feature of stink bugs is that they are hemiptera which means halfwing. This is pointing to the fact that they have a unique set of front wings which are leathery close to the base and look more membranous at the tip area. Most Hemiptera hold these wings flat over their backs with the membranous sections overlapping one another. Another identifying mark of the stink bug is the less-than-pleasant smell they emit. This “stink” is actually an oily substance produced by a gland on the abdomen which is used for protection. So, in effect, they are only trying to survive, and therefore…they stink. Some species spray this chemical several inches, but most aren’t really all that noticeable unless they are squished.


What do stink bugs look like?


Stink bugs are shaped something like a shield, but their exact shapes vary. This is the reason they are often referred to as shield bugs. Some are roundish while others are elongated. There are varieties that have spike-like body parts that jut out to the side or even have a “shark” fin-looking part on their backs. Flat and smooth is another look the species may display. As far as color, there is also a complex answer to what they look like as a whole. Solid-colored stink bugs are often multicolored as nymphs, and a green adult may begin life as red and black (Go Dawgs). Anyway, I digress. But, the point is that color is not always an easy identifier of a stink bug since green, brown, gray, red, and black, are all possibilities. And while we think of a stink bug being the dull brown color of the marmorated (our most commonly seen variety), the blue shield bug is actually quite lovely in its shiny blue body.  Shape is definitely more helpful in identification. Size is a variable quality as well since marmorated stink bugs are usually around 2 centimeters long while the smaller kudzu are 4-6 millimeters in length.


Where did stink bugs come from anyway?


Most people believe the stink bug is an invasive species, which means it is not native to the United States. The most accepted theory seems to be that they originated in Asian countries and hitchhiked over by way of plane or ship transport. The kudzu bug is also a type of stinkbug and is often associated with its favorite food source, annoying kudzu. It is said that perhaps the kudzu bug was brought over to help us get rid of its favorite food source (and many Georgian homeowners’ worst landscaping nemesis) the kudzu vine. Whether hitchhiking or intentional, the kudzu bug is here to stay, as kudzu is certainly not making any exit plans Plus this bug is quite proliferating, having several generations every year.


What do stink bugs eat?


The brown marmorated is seen as a real threat to agriculture since it eats vegetables and fruits such as apples, cherries, corn, and soybeans. The kudzu bug has a particular love of kudzu so typically does not go after other food sources unless there is an absence of kudzu, and who are we kidding? There is no absence of kudzu in the South.


But here’s a surprising fact: some stink bugs eat other bugs. That’s right, they are predatory. What’s more, unlike their more unlikable relatives, the predatory stink bugs are helpful to gardeners! An example of a predatory stink bug is the lovely (it really is, look it up) blue shield bug which eats the larvae of some beetles, caterpillars, and moths that damage plants.


Where do stink bugs live?


And here is where it gets real for our Georgia homeowners. During the summer, Canton Termite and Pest Control rarely hear about problems with stink bugs; however, the fall season is another story entirely.


As the weather cools, stink bugs will search out a nice warm leaf pile of leaves or under tree bark to overwinter, but problems arise when your home also happens to look like a very pleasant hotel choice for the bugs.


Why does this happen, you may ask? Early in the fall season, the stink bugs are often found sunning themselves on the sides of houses. This can lead to a very natural progression of action from the little invaders searching for a way to hang out more permanently in this newly found condo. Warmth is what they are seeking, therefore an air gap with your hard-earned climate-controlled interior seeping out is an invitation to ‘come on in’ for the bug world. And believe me, come on in they will!


What to do?


I feel like I say this rather consistently, but it is still true that prevention is always the best remedy for a bug-free home. First of all, we have covered how difficult it can be to identify the lowly stink bug, so a professional who knows where and when to look for bug varieties is your absolute first line of defense. Ongoing pest control services give you the added layer of experienced, licensed experts noticing signs of a beginning infestation or conducive conditions to a bug invasion. Plus, our technicians are trained to quickly identify and treat a problem pest rather than guessing at a solution.


As mentioned before, the stink bugs (as well as most pests and wildlife) are looking for a climate-controlled environment for the winter season. If your doors, windows, vents, and gable areas have cracks and crevices present, then there is an air gap that bugs will most certainly find. In fact, the stinkbug has really cool antennae that can feel the slightest air gap and then lead the rest of the gang to the new nesting site (aka your house). Obviously, your power bill can be greatly impacted by this type of issue as well, so for many reasons, it is important for the homeowner to do inspections. Check your screens for damage, and look for any openings and damaged areas available for insect entrance. Frequently checking your home for cracks and crevices and making sure they are properly sealed is the best protection you can provide for your most valuable asset.


What to do if stink bugs are in my house


First of all, do not panic. And do not squash them. Again, the name tells the story. A vacuum can help with the elimination, but remember to get rid of the bag itself after the job is done. Obviously, the bigger problem is where they are coming from in the first place. Finding the source of entry can be a daunting task and one that a pest control professional can more easily define. Once found, the area and any other possible points of entry should be repaired and sealed.


If you are concerned with stink bugs or any other pest, give Canton Termite and Pest Control a call at 770-479-1598, and let us help you live pest-free!

By: Robin


Occasional Invaders- Stink bugs
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