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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I recently came across a message where you had identified the dreaded "stink bug". I live in northern Michigan near Petoskey. I build a new house in the winter of 2002 and in August of 2002 was invaded by brown stink bugs. I have 2 plants which I have never seen the bugs near. I usually find them near the windows. I am desperate to get rid of these ugly creatures!!!! Please advise me of anything you know that would be helpful.
Thank you,
Ami Watkins

Dear Ami,
What constitutes an invasion? A few stink bugs might have wandered into the house through the door and then were drawn to the windows because of the light. They are accidental visitations, much like the occasional fly or bee which finds itself indoors and wants nothing more than to get out. Also, they are seasonal, maturing in the late summer when you found them. You shouldn’t have a problem when they are in their wingless stages. Rest assured that stinkbugs will not take up permanent residence in your new home. Ants, roaches, termites and silverfish are a bigger concern.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Just wanted to say, your site is excellent! I was looking for what turned out to be a Wheel Bug, a picture of which was sent in by a boy in Pennsylvania, the same day I saw the bug in central Texas! The strength of your site seems to be a combination of three important factors:
1) seasonal bugs seem to make themselves conspicuous at the same time of year over a broad range, making them a curiosity to many people simultaneously,
2) the popularity and effectiveness of your site is such one of these curious people will actually act on their sighting and
3) your dedication and accuracy feed back to the curious, reinforcing your site’s popularity and effectiveness. Very Nice!

Thank you so much Mike,
Your letter really made my day.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I live in Overland Park, KS and came across this critter in the living room, of all places! I assume that the oncoming cold of winter is driving many bugs to seek food and warmth inside. This guy seemed harmless enough. I released him back outside in the garden.
Can you tell me what this bug is?
John Derry
Overland Park, KS

Dear John,
You just released a species of Stink Bug into your yard. They are true bugs, and as such, have sucking mouth parts which they use to extract the life giving juices from plants. Because of this habit of feeding, they are considered injurious and are garden pests, consuming a wide variety of edible and ornamental cultivated plants. They are sometimes attracted to lights, which could explain its presence in your home. The Stink Bugs (Family Pentatomidae) secrete a noxious odor from glands on the thorax, hence their common name.

Thanks for the informative reply…now I gotta go get a flashlight and git that sucker!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

yucky bugs
Surely you can help!?!
There are about 2000 of these living on my tree. Half of them seem to have just "hatched", half are mature. They don’t appear to be harming anything, just hanging out, migrating from the tree to the lawn and back again . Do you know what they are? Cause for concern?
Don and Elke (and Anna now too)

Dear Don, Elke and Anna
Your insect is a box elder bug (Leptocoris trivittatus) which is known to live in colonies of both adults which have wings and the nymph stage which is wingless. We at What’s That Bug? have gotten questions about this garden pest in the past. Here is an excerpt from a recent reply which should also apply to your situation.
On it says, "When present in large enough numbers Box Elder Bugs can do damage to Manitoba Maple trees. Most people call us in the fall because they are curious about the large numbers on the walls of their houses or concerned about the numbers that are getting in the houses. Washing them off the walls of the house with a blast of cold water from a hose may help. The only way to ensure that they do not get inside the house is to fill in all cracks where they could be getting in, a rather daunting and expensive task."

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi Daniel,
I’m having an ongoing problem with what I’m told are grubs in my St. Augustin grass. Each summer I get these patches which turn yellow/ brown and die out, just as if I hadn’t watered them in ages, which is, of course, not the case. Apparently they eat the roots of the grass causing the tops to die. I have usually spread grub killer and that seems to take care of it. The problem is that the grub killer, called “Seven,” I believe, is super toxic, indicating the need to wear socks, long pants, gloves, respirator (my addition), etc. Do you know of any similar remedy for grubs that would not be so environmentally horrendous? I have three cats who live in this grass daily and I don’t want one of them to start growing an extra head or some other such gruesome mutation. Caroline, a Manx, already has all the extra toes she can handle.
Kathleen (a.k.a. Toxic Avenger)

Dear Kathleen,
I can think of three possible culprits for your St. Agustine grass problem, the likliest one being the chinch bug, Blissus insularis, small gray-black insects that suck plant juices from grass blades, especially St. Agustine grass, especially in hot weather. To confirm chinch bugs, according to the Western Garden Book , push a bottomless can into the soil just where the grass is beginning to turn brown. Fill can with water, If lawn is infested, chinch bugs will float to the surface. Diazinon and chlorpyrifos are chemical controls. According to Hogue, the Southern Chinch Bug feeds on several grasses, but Saint Augustine is by far the preferred host plant. The insect’s feeding may cause considerable damage: the grass becomes dwarfed, turns yellow and then brown, and dies. Because of the tendency of the species to form aggregations, the symptoms of attack are usually visible in scattered patches. The species is not a native. It first appeared in the Los Angeles area in the late 1960’s, having come from the southeastern states. It produces two generations per year and is most abundant in midsummer. Two additional possible culprits that require the same chemical control are Sod Webworms and beetle grubs. If you see whitish to buff colored moths flying around the lawn in a zigzag pattern at night, check for their larvae. To confirm Sod Webworms, drench area of lawn with a solution of 1 tablespoon dishwashing soap diluted in 1 gallon of water. Larvae will come to surface. Treat if there are 15 or more webworms per square yard.

Update: (07/13/2008)
organic solutions
Bugman, I love your web site but in a recent post (see below), you recommended some harsh chemicals to get rid of chinch bugs. Diazinon has been banned on golf courses because it kills birds. Could you also recommend organic alternatives to bug control? Lots of lawn problems are caused by over fertilizing and overwatering the lawn rather than building up the soil itself. Here’s a web site with ideas for controlling chinch bugs without pesticides: chinchNOW.html#action1 I live in a house built in 1908 in Massachusetts and I figure the lawn is an old pasture. The grass and clover lawn is deep rooted and survives even the longest droughts. I never water or fertilize. I just mow high with a mulching mower that basically chops up the grass blades and creates compost every time I mow. When friends complain about grubs, I don’t have a thing to add because the lawn is evidently so healthy that they don’t thrive. And if a drought is long enough to turn the grass brown, I still don’t worry, because the roots are healthy so the next rain brings back the green growth. Plus I see loads of butterflies, dragonflies, fireflies, interesting bugs, birds and other critters all summer long. Lots of builders strip the existing topsoil off a site (to sell to landscapers) and replace it with a shallow layer of topsoil, then seed it with grass that can never establish really deep roots in that thin layer. The homeowner is then stuck in a cycle of watering and fertilizing. If you dig into your lawn, you can figure out how deep the topsoil actually is. If it’s shallow, get a couple truckloads of topsoil laid down so you have a good 8-12 inches of soil, add a few inches of compost (which is often free from your city recycling center), re-establish the lawn with grasses that do well locally and then mow high with a mulching mower. You can save on your water bill while avoiding toxic chemicals that could hurt your kids, pets, birds and bugs. Thanks, Bugman, for a fantastic and fascinating site.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I am needing a little guidance from you. In the last 2 nights, I have discovered 2 large shiny green bugs in my bed! They were about 3/4 of an inch long and about 1/2 inch wide and look like a beetle variety. They have long legs and do emit an odor when I was chasing it. Both times, they were crawling on my bed and I heard them flying about my room. I don’t know if they are stink bugs, since I know other bugs do emit odors. I am wondering what I can do to get rid of these pests because I don’t want to get back into bed! Please help me.

Dear April,
Though you provided no geographical information which could help in my identification of local species, I think your guess that the large shiny green bugs in your bed might be stink bugs could be correct. Here in Los Angeles, we have two species of green stink bugs belonging to the family Pentatomidae, both of the genus Chlorochroa, from the Greek chlôros which means "yellow-green". They are the same general size that you describe.
Stinkbugs are true bugs, not beetles since they undergo incomplete, not complete metamorphosis. They are not shiny like a tiger beetle, but they are a vivid green. Tiger beetles, family Cicindelidae, are often a shiny, metalic green or blue green, and have very long legs that they use to chase down their prey. They are good fliers, often being mistaken for flies, but they like sunny weather and don’t emit an offensive odor. Stink bugs, on the other hand do emit an offensive odor as a defense mechanism, and are often attracted to lights at night, which could explain how they wound up in your bed. Probably the last lights you turned off in the house before retiring were in your bedroom, luring the stink bugs to your bed. Conserving electricity by keeping fewer lights on in the home might keep unwanted visitors from your bed.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination