Stink bugs are infamous for the nasty smell that they can release, when they are disturbed or crushed. Apart from that, some species cause damage to agricultural crops, as well as other plants. Stink bugs belong to the order Hemiptera in the super family Pentatomoidea.
What Do They Look Like
Brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) are native to China, but are now found in other parts of the world too. Adult bugs are around one inch in length, and have shades of brown on both the upper and lower parts of the body.
Most of these insects have a marbled appearance, and hence the name marmorated. They can be distinguished from other species with their body color, and the light-colored bands on their antennae. Most of them have distinct black and white bands along the edges of the abdomen.
The characteristic feature of these bugs - their offensive smell, is said to be a part of their defense mechanism. This scent is released from the glands located on the underside of the thorax, and on the upper side of the abdomen. Stink bugs have sharp mouth parts adapted for sucking out the sap of plants.
These bugs lay eggs on the under side of leaves, and the eggs are whitish-green in color. These elliptical eggs are attached to one another, as well as to the leaf. There would be around 20 to 30 eggs on each leaf. The nymphs have reddish markings on their body, and resemble ticks in appearance.
While in some regions, brown marmorated stink bugs have only one generation in a year, but in some other places, more than four generations are seen. The latter ones are mostly seen in warmer regions.
Marmorated Stink Bugs as Pests
Marmorated stink bugs are classified as pests for a wide range of plants, including ornamental plants, weeds and crops. Among fruit crops, these bugs mainly attack peach, pear, apple, cherry, raspberry, grapes, currants, etc. In case of agricultural crops, corn and soybeans are damaged by these insects.
They are found to feed on these plants during the beginning of late May or early June. Stink bugs use their sucking mouth parts for feeding, and this results in leaf stippling, and cat facing of fruits. Even pathogens can be transmitted by these bugs.
During the fall, these stink bugs gain entry into houses, so as to spend their winter in some warm place. You can find them under sidings, inside the cracks and crevices in the wall, around the frames of doors and windows, and beneath roofing shingles.
Even though they are found to hibernate during the winters, warmth inside the house may make them active, and they may be seen at different locations, especially around light fixtures. They can release the foul odor, and may sometimes inflict bites (only if you handle them).
But stink bug bites are usually not associated with severe pain or other symptoms. As these insects can be really annoying with their smell, people often search for methods for killing stink bugs.
Tips to Control Stink Bugs
In the Garden
It has been observed that most of the regular insecticides are not effective in eliminating these bugs from the garden. However, there are certain brands that may prove beneficial for this purpose. Consult a horticulturist, before using such products.
Another method is to introduce natural predators that can help you get rid of these stink bugs. They include parasitic wasps, praying mantis, garden spiders, assassin bugs, and some types of birds. Some of them can be purchased from garden centers.
Another method is to prepare a nicotine solution by shredding some cigarettes (around ten) in a quart of water. Keep it overnight. Next morning, strain the water and add a teaspoon of dish wash soap. Mix well before spraying it on plants, for killing stink bugs.
However, make sure to wash the crops, before use. Use gloves and other protective gear, while spraying this solution. You may also spray soap solution for eliminating these insects. Use insecticidal soaps or mild dish wash soaps for this purpose.
Some people sprinkle kaolin spray over the plants as well as the soil to prevent these stink bugs from feeding on the plants. Make sure to clean the crops, before use.
Inside the House
You can get rid of these insects from the house with some easy measures. You may handpick the insects, and either flush them or put them in soap solution.
Another method is to use stick traps all over the house, especially places, where you find them more. You may also go for light traps meant for stink bugs. Some people use electric flyswatter, that can kill the insects. Another method is to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the insects. If the infestation is severe, you may contact a pest control professional.
In short, getting rid of brown marmorated stink bugs is not a difficult task, if you know the right methods. However, it will be always better to adopt preventive measures beforehand. Apart from sealing cracks and crevices, use window screens, and keep the doors shut. In the garden, spread kaolin clay as a preventive measure against stink bugs.