Native to eastern Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug was accidentally introduced to the U.S. in the late 1990s. An invasive agricultural pest, the brown marmorated stink bug is notorious for causing damage to fruit, vegetable, and other types of crops. If these bugs get into your home, you might cringe at the sight of their prehistoric appearance, but they are essentially just a smelly nuisance and aren’t dangerous (though they can produce allergic reactions like conjunctivitis or rhinitis in some people). While difficult to combat in your backyard, this odorous insect can be effectively controlled indoors.
How to Identify Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
Like other types of stink bugs, the brown marmorated stink bug is roughly as wide as it is long. Adults grow to about ½-inch long and are brown with alternating brown and white bands on both their abdomens and their antennae. Their legs also have faint white bands. While other types of stink bugs have prominent, pointed shoulders, the brown marmorated stink bug has rounded shoulders. The head and plate-like thorax are covered with copper or metallic-blue depressions.
Why Do Stink Bugs Cause Your Home to Smell?
When disturbed (or squashed), all stink bugs emit a foul odor from scent glands located on both the upper surface of the abdomen and beneath the thorax. Once they release their strong, unpleasant odor (which some liken to cilantro or coriander), it will linger on surfaces as well as your skin.
How Do Stink Bugs Get into Homes?
At the beginning of fall, brown marmorated stink bugs will begin looking for a place to spend the winter. That’s why it's not uncommon to find several congregating on window screens or near other entrances to your house. If they manage to find a crack that leads into your house or garage, you could have a considerable infestation on your hands. Like other insects, the brown marmorated stink bug can enter your house through very narrow cracks, crevices, and holes.
How to Prevent a Stink Bug Problem
The best way to cope with a brown marmorated stink bug problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. As summer winds down, take some time to inspect the exterior of your house. Be sure to repair any broken screens, as even the slightest tear can provide an entrance for the brown marmorated stink bug as well as other unwanted pests. Caulk any cracks you find in the walls or near the foundation, as these, too, can be accessed by insect pests. Next, create a barrier around doors and windows with Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Killer with Extended Reach Comfort Wand®.
It's also a good idea to place weather stripping on all doors. Because stinks bugs tend to congregate around doors, there's a strong likelihood that they can gain access to your home by crawling under the door or entering when the door opens. These bugs can also get into the house via the chimney, so be sure that there is a screen in place at the chimney top. Remember to also remove leaf piles and any plant debris that are near the house, as these materials can provide shelter for insect pests like the brown marmorated stink bug.
How to Deal with a Stink Bug Problem
If brown marmorated stink bugs get into your house, don't crush them, or you'll have their terrible odor to contend with. You also don't want to touch them with your bare hands or you may wind up with the odor on yourself. Some people may even develop contact dermatitis after coming into contact with these insects.
If there are only a few stink bugs, the easiest solution is to vacuum them up and then dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag afterward. The vacuum may smell for a period of time, but eventually the odor will dissipate.
If you have a bigger problem and they’re hanging out on your ceiling and walls, or even clinging en masse to your draperies, you may want to try Ortho® Home Defense® Ant, Roach & Spider Killer2 (be sure to follow label directions). Of course, unless you can pinpoint their point of entry, more bugs could emerge after you complete the treatment.
Even though the brown marmorated stink bug doesn't bite, it is a definite nuisance if it gets into your home. Their lingering, pungent smell is difficult to eliminate, though it will fade with time. Prevention is ideal, and these insect pests are most keen to get inside your home during the autumn to find a nice warm place to spend the winter.