Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nothing good comes from invasive stinkbugs!

Shield-shaped and menacing, this Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys, had the gall to invade your blogger's home. It paid dearly for its transgression, as have at least a dozen others in recent days.

I first became intimately familiar with these pests two falls ago, on a trip to Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania. These bugs were numerous, even outside in more or less natural habitats. But they were at their ugly worst back in the hotel room. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) are incredibly adept at forcing their way into buildings, and can do so in droves when the weather cools, as it had on my October trip to Hawk Mountain.

It was apropos that I learned the charms of these pests in Pennsylvania, as it was in the Keystone State where they were first found on U.S. soil, back in 1998. In the intervening 14 years, BMSB numbers have skyrocketed and probably everyone in PA is unwillingly acquainted with this six-legged brute. Like so many of our other problematic insect invaders, this one hails from Asia. And like other imported pests, it probably hitched its way here inside packing crates; another unintended consequence of foreign trade.

These bugs are tough, and slightly eerie. They appear to see well, and it seems that when I clap my eyes on one, it freezes and watches my movements. They're also fairly sizable, and create an annoyingly loud deep buzzing drone when they clumsily bumble-fly from point A to B. If one is in the room, you'll soon know, and probably won't be totally at ease until you've dispatched it. To make matters worse, if mishandled the stinkbug, quite appropriately, will discharge a foul-smelling substance from pores in its abdomen. There's just nothing positive to report on here.

Orchardists have it far worse than irritated homeowners that suffer BMSB incursions. The bugs are in the order Hemiptera, and use sucking mouthparts to tap juices from plants and their fruit. A big infestation can lay waste to crops of vegetables and fruit, and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of natural enemies.

I had one or a few invade my home last year, but there are far more this year. It seems the BMSB is quickly swelling its ranks here in Ohio as it sweeps westward across the landscape. I suspect they're here to stay, at least for some time.

These bugs are survivors, there is little doubt of that. An individual can live for a year, and they overwinter as adults. Hence, their urge to invade your warm cozy house when the weather turns nippy. Preliminary and informal survivability tests conducted by your blogger indicate that these insects can take a beating and keep on ticking. I captured the animal in these photos by trapping it in the lid of a noxious can of motorcycle chain lube, then securing the cap back on the can, airtight. The air quality within that small sphere could not have been pleasant. Then, I stuck the can in the coldest back recesses of my refrigerator for maybe an hour. When I brought the bug out and dumped it on white paper for these shots, it was predictably dazed and lifeless. Within two minutes, it was twitching and moments later was back to 100% health.

We've got a plant-sucking Armageddon-surviving cockroachlike six-legged pest that spews foul secretions on our hands, so it seems.

Thank you, Asia.

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12 comments:

Lilac Haven said...

I saw these everywhere yesterday both at work and at home in W'ville.

Jason Kessler said...

So far I've dispatched three back outdoors this fall. No discernible stink, but then I also have a cute lil' skunk who comes to the door at night looking for leftover bird seed and, as we chat quietly through the screen door, he remains the very picture of good odiferous conduct.

Sharkbytes said...

I don't think we have those here yet. I suppose it's only a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

I have hundreds around my house and barn near Powell. They can get through the smallest crack. They do enjoy a nice glass of wine...yuck!

Anonymous said...

I found 2 in my house last week, one of which was feeding on a pear on my kitchen counter; and the shed at my son's school where they keep the sports equipment for recess was swarming with them. At least the kids were having fun catching them and putting them in a container. AAAAA! Stinkbugs! Stinkbugs! It was actually a couple girls chasing the others and trying to scare them with bugs :-)
I've seen lots of Boxelder bugs lately too.
Brian in Dayton (Oakwood)

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks for your comments - glad to know that I'm not the only one being invaded by these unsavory six-legged characters! And you just wait, S-bytes...

Karen Amelia said...

A little kindness is in order here. The stinkbugs move slowly and so don't really cause much nuisance in side the house. They definitely don't buzz elusively around your ears nor do they bite or sting.

Anonymous said...

Glad I found your site - just had one of these going up the wall in my kitchen (Wickliffe, Ohio) and wanted to know what the heck it was.

Anonymous said...

Ive seen one or two of these in my room at lst i completly panicked i thought it was a bed bug or a roach ! not tht a stink bug is any better ✘ how fo i get rid of them

Lauren Souza said...

I'm in Connecticut, I have just dispatched the 4th one of these bugs in 2 weeks. They seem to love my bedroom and I have no clue why. I haven't smelled any stink from them but they sure are creepy.I noticed them for the first time over the summer but as it got colder there have been more than the occasional one or two I've seen. How do I get rid of them???

Anonymous said...

gina in connecticut i have seen like 5 this winter they also love my bedroom is there a way to get rid of them ? it's freeking me out. i have not seen them in any other room.am i gona see more and more of them? can i get rid of them? please help!!!!!

Jim McCormac said...


Hi Gina - if I had the silver bullet cure for getting rid of these things, I'd be the firs to tell! Short of sealing all windows and other possible ports of entry tight as a drum, I don't know what else can be done.