Stink bugs are plentiful in Mid-Atlantic states, and they’re ready to come indoors for winter
Guess who’s coming for a visit. Or, more precisely, what. Here’s a hint: It has six skinny legs, never knocks and kind of stinks.
As the fall air turns cold, swarms of brown marmorated stink bugs are ready to crawl from woods and fields — especially in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware — in search of a warm spot to spend the winter, and any house will do.
So get ready. After last year’s steep decline, favorable conditions this year have apparently resulted in a population boom.
“The numbers have just been way up all summer long heading into August,” said Mike Raupp, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. “The data coming in says numbers are pretty high.”
The federal government reiterated that message. “There are certainly plenty out there,” said Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “In some locations, we’ve seen high trap counts.”
By “some locations,” Leskey means the Mid-Atlantic, where the aforementioned states make up the heart of the region. It also includes Pennsylvania, where invasive stink bugs native to China and the Koreas first emerged about 15 years ago, probably after crawling out of a cargo ship.
Leskey, Raupp and other scientists said it’s too early to tell how bad the home invasions will be. But Leskey is hoping some homeowners will help.
“We have a project called the Great Stink Bug Count, wherehomeowners as far north as Ohio and south in Georgia are counting stink bugs,” she said.
By the end of October, scientists expect to have the raw numbers they will need to start compiling data. They plan to analyze the colors of homes, their sizes, location, elevation and surrounding vegetation to see what attracts the bugs.
They’re trying to figure out why some people end up with thousands of bugs and neighbors less than a mile away hardly get any.
Raupp knows that homeowners don’t care about any of that, so he has provided a how-to video on getting rid of stink bugs. If the recent past is any guide, more than a few will need it.
Step one, Raupp said, is to seal any cracks around the windows and doors with caulk. Get weather stripping, and patch even the tiniest sliver in the wall. Grab a can of foam spray to block holes around outdoor electrical outlets.
But don’t flush stink bugs down the toilet, Raupp said. That will only waste water and drive up your water bill. “That’s just not very green,” he said.
Step two: Make a bug trap out of a small plastic water bottle. Cut off the top, invert the nozzle into the bottle by sticking it upside down to create a funnel. Brush the bugs in and they will easily slide down, he said.
And step three: Fill a bucket with soapy water and toss the stink bugs in after nudging them into the bottle, sucking them up in a hand-vac or snatching them up in a napkin. “They’re just not great swimmers,” Raupp said.
Take good notes, because Asian stink bugs are apparently here to stay. They’ve been observed in 41 states — most recently in Hawaii — up from 33 last year, making big gains and staking a sustained presence in the United States.
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