Invasion of the Stink Bug!

York County Sees Massive Stink Bug Invasion

They creep. They crawl. And the stink! The brown marmorated stink bug seems to be showing up everywhere this fall. While not uncommon, the invasion – yes, invasion – is being felt throughout York County. This smelly bug affectionately referred to as the stink bug, is an invasive species which releases a foul odor when threatened or squashed. But why are our homes inundated with this untouchable creature and what do we do about it?

With cooler weather, the stink bug begins to look for shelter in tree hollows. However, according to Eric Benson, an entomologist at Clemson University, the warm weather that has extended into the fall is partly to blame for the invasion as it has lengthened the time the bugs had to feed and reproduce and are only now starting to find shelter.

Stink bugs are a newer problem for us, as they weren’t brought to the States until 1990s and in South Carolina roughly six or seven years ago.

They aren’t exactly harmful but have been known to generate an allergic reaction in those “who are sensitive to the bugs’ odor,” according to Pennsylvania State University. Other than the inconvenience to us, the real problem is for farmers. The brown marmorated stink bug loves to feed on one of our favorite fall treats: apples. In addition to apples, they also enjoy sweet corn, figs, and peaches. Since the bug does not have a predator here in the States and tastes bitter to animals that could otherwise eat the critters, scientists are working on ways to deter the bug from eating valuable crops. Scientists are learning about ways to produce pheromones in ‘trap crops’ – to lure the bugs away from cash crops, said Dorothea Tholl, a professor of biological sciences in the College of Science and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate.

Meanwhile, what are we to do? Experts suggest not killing or squashing the bug, lest we smell the stench of its death, and utilizes more humane methods of eradicating them. Killing them may prove to be more frustrating, as other bugs may feed on the dead carcasses. Sweeping brown marmorated stink bug is our best bet, but vacuuming can also help if there are many in your house. Prevention is also key. Since the bug can crawl in through gaps, open doors, or torn screens, making sure your property is well-sealed will keep them at bay.

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