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What Are Stink Bugs & Where do They Come From?

Updated on: May 22, 2023

Stink bugs are a type of flying insect known for their ability to emit a pungent odor when threatened or crushed, which is a defensive mechanism used to deter predators. They belong to the family Pentatomidae and are also known as shield bugs due to their distinctive shield-like shape.

One of the most well-known species is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), an invasive species that was introduced to the United States from East Asia in the mid-1990s. Their indigenous habitat spans across China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. These bugs are also known by names such as the yellow-brown or the East Asian stink bug. Today, brown marmorated stink bugs are most prevalent in the mid-Atlanta region, but they have been identified in 44 states.

Stink bugs can become pests in agricultural areas because they feed on a wide range of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and grains, potentially causing significant damage. They can also become a nuisance in homes and other buildings where they may seek shelter during colder months. Their ability to fly adds to their mobility and capacity to spread.

What Do Stink Bugs Look Like?

Stink bugs are typically identified as "sizeable, oval-shaped insects" and "shield-shaped insects." Adult stink bugs can grow to almost 2 cm in length and are nearly as broad as they are lengthy. Their legs project from the sides, giving the adult stink bugs an even larger appearance. The brown marmorated stink bug has a brownish hue, marked by lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the wings.

Juvenile stink bugs, also known as nymphs, are extremely small when they emerge from their eggs. The brown marmorated stink bug nymphs exhibit yellow and red colors. As they mature, the yellow shade gradually transitions to white. During their nymph stage, they have bright red eyes. The nymphs go through molting or shedding their skin five times. Each molting phase results in the stink bug nymph growing larger. By the final molt, the nymphs approach the size of the adult stink bugs.

Adult stink bugs are typically large and oval-shaped, nearly as wide as long, with legs extending from their sides. Immature stink bugs, or nymphs, are smaller and their coloration can change as they mature.

What Attracts Stink Bugs in Your House? 

When temperatures drop, stink bugs make their way indoors. So in our area, of New Jersey, they typically become a problem for homeowners in autumn. These insects are attracted to the warmth and shelter of your home and will enter through any cracks and openings.

Inside, stink bugs are found hiding in cracks and crevices, usually in and around baseboards, windows, and door trims. They're also common in lights and external exhaust fans. Stink bugs enter by congregating around warm, heat-reflective surfaces like windows and porches. Light also attracts stink bugs to your house. To prevent this, you should keep exterior lighting to a minimum and use blinds to reduce any light from inside the home from spilling out.  

To keep these pests from coming inside, homeowners should seal openings with caulk to keep them out, and don't forget to check screens on windows and doors for holes as well! 

What keeps stink bugs away?

Stink bugs are averse to certain essential oils and fragrances, making these ideal repellents. Despite being odoriferous insects, stink bugs do not appreciate the aromas that humans often find pleasant, and they tend to avoid clove oil, lemongrass oil, spearmint oil, and Ylang oil. Some other household items, like various dryer sheets, also produce smells that stink bugs find repulsive.

Regarding vegetation that deters stink bugs, interestingly, the more aromatic, the better. Plants such as lavender, garlic, and catnip are some of the most effective choices for warding off stink bugs from your dwelling. Position these plants near your house, and most insects will think twice before venturing your way.

How do I get rid of stink bugs?

As discussed, stink bugs are attached to the warmth of your home so the best approach would be to locate patching up small drafts and cracks in frames and baseboards.

Next, remove them without crushing them. Crushing them will release their odor, in turn attracting more stink bugs. Vacuum the up if they are in nunbers and wash the surfaces they congregated on with soapy water.


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