Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, is native to China, Japan and surrounding countries. They were first discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania during the late 1990’s, but no one knows for certain how they were introduced to North America. Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) populations are exploding in the absence of their natural predators, and they are quickly becoming a nuisance to people in their homes and to the agriculture industry.
Identifying a BMSB
BMSBs have a "shield" like shape and reach approximately 17mm in length as adults. They have various shades of brown on the top of their body and white (sometimes with grey or black markings) underneath.
North America has about 250 native stink bugs which are usually under control by native predators. The invasive stink bugs look very similar to our native species, but there are some key differences in BMSBs:
- Alternating dark and light bands on the antennae
- Alternating dark and light banding on the exposed side edges of the abdomen
A big problem with BMSBs so far is the infestation of people’s homes. The bugs begin to come indoors, searching for warm, protected areas when outside temperatures turn cooler in the Fall. They don’t reproduce inside the home or cause structural damage, but their name-sake odor, noisy flying, and teeming numbers can make the BMSB an extreme nuisance throughout the winter, especially on warmer days when they move about more.
National Wildlife Federation’s senior scientist, Doug Inkley, has his own challenge with BMSBs. In a period of ten weeks, Dr. Inkley found over 20,000 stink bugs in his home.
Best Way to Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your Home
Prevent them from getting inside: Vacuum up the stink bugs already inside, and take note of spots where they crawl in or where you find concentrated numbers – these are likely entry points. Common places to look for emerging stink bugs are cracks around window and door trim, baseboards, and exhaust fans or lights in the ceiling.
Seal any cracks you find and replace or repair damaged screens to block stink bugs from entering your home.
Do not use pesticides: using pesticides indoors is harmful to the health of people and pets, and pesticides are less effective against stink bugs because they live deep within the walls. Removing the stink bugs already inside and sealing entry points are the most effective at keeping these pests out of your home.
Damage to Crops
BMSBs feed on host plants by piercing the skin and consuming the juices within; the signs of stink bug feeding appear as "necrotic" or dead spots on the surface. They've become a significant agricultural pest in the Mid-Atlantic region, and other areas could see similar effects if the BMSB’s range continues to expand.
A wide variety of plants are known food sources for BMSBs, including:
Ornamental trees and shrubs
Fruit crops like peaches, apples, grapes and pears
Vegetable crops like green beans and asparagus
Soybeans and corn
Stopping the Spread of Invasive Species
Preventing the introduction of invasive species into new areas is critical to curbing their spread and mitigating the damage. Find ways you can help contain BMSBs and other invasive species >>