Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are Causing a Stink!

Adult brown marmorated stink bug (Photo: Susan Ellis)
We have been getting a lot of reports of structures being inundated with what is likely the brown marmorated stink bug. This insect is a pest of a wide variety of agricultural and horticultural crops including soybeans, fruits, and ornamentals. During the fall, as things begin to cool down, adult stink bugs begin to search for a place to overwinter. Unfortunately, if school grounds are located near agricultural crops or orchards, or have  extensive plantings of ornamental trees, you may begin to see large numbers of this bug trying to invade buildings. Although their presence may be alarming to some, the stink bugs are not harmful. However, they do put off an unpleasant odor (they don’t call them stink bugs for nothing!).

This situation is virtually identical to the problems many of you have seen with boxelder bugs and the Asian lady beetles in that little can be done to stop them. With the upcoming frosts, particularly in western NC, we're likely to see the annual movement of lady bugs indoors by the time you’re reading this. It will progress in the Piedmont and eastern parts of the start likely towards the end of October.

Pesticide applications to the exterior of school buildings won’t have any real impact on the brown marmorated stink bug. In order to be effective, pesticides must be sprayed directly on the bugs or the bugs must land on a treated surface. If you decided the problem warrants an outdoor pesticide application, limit your treatment to exterior windows and doors, or other openings stink bugs are using to enter the building.

Spraying indoors for stink bugs won’t work because they show up in different places. There is no specific target site and excessive indoor applications are potentially harmful to children, teachers, and staff. Stink bugs are not a true “emergency” and so any spraying indoors would require that you follow the 72 hour notification policy.  Your best option is to use a vacuum cleaner to collect any invading stink bugs. They will stink up a shop-vac or regular vacuum cleaner fast, so use a “Knee-High” or part of panty hose inside the nozzle to collect the stink bugs and then discard it.  If you rely on just a vacuum cleaner bag, be sure to seal the bag inside a trash bag before disposing of it to keep the bugs from escaping.

This problem is relatively new for us but has been occurring north of
our border for some time and we expect it to spread to other counties over timeFor more information on the brown marmorated stink bug, please read NCSU’s publication which can be found at:

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