Stink Bugs: When Pesticides Don’t Work

Stink Bugs: When pesticides don’t work. Bugs are giving off a bad odor and residents are complaining of the stink. When the weather cools, these bugs start looking for a place to sleep, and that often leads to a problem inside homes.

These bugs are searching for a warm place to hibernate for the winter. Each measures less than an inch long, but the creatures damage crops and leave behind a disagreeable odor when squashed. They are originally from Southeast Asia.

Stink insects appeared in Allentown around 1998, said Steve Ward, master gardener coordinator at Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lackawanna County. They have since migrated, and, as an introduced species with no native predator, their numbers have swelled.

“There is obviously an increase in population, but it is the time of year you’re going to notice them because they are coming into your house,” Mr. Ward said. “Even here at the master gardener help line, we’ve seen an increase in calls on them.” While the bugs do not necessarily damage residential properties, trees or gardens, they threaten farm crops such as apples, peaches and soybeans, he said.

Bug treatment: People can use a vacuum cleaner or shop vacuum to pick up the bugs in homes. If crushed, the insects, which carry a scent gland, give off the unpleasant odor that gives them their name.

“We don’t recommend you squish them because they smell,” Mr. Ward said.

Mr. Ward also suggested people determine how the insects are entering a home, checking vents, drains and screens. People also should clean up dead stink bugs, he said, since they can attract carpenter beetles that feed off the carcasses.