The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive pest present throughout much of the United States.
Native to Asia, it made its way to the US in the mid-1990s, possibly stowing away in a shipping container, and has become a concern for farmers due to its appetite for various crops, including fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Dealing with these pesky insects can be a challenge for both homeowners and gardeners, but there are effective methods to control their population and prevent them from causing damage.
In this article, we will explore some of the best ways to get rid of the brown marmorated stink bug without resorting to harmful chemicals or costly extermination methods.
Understanding Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
Origin and Expansion
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), scientifically known as Halyomorpha halys, is an invasive pest.
BMSB populations have since expanded throughout North America, causing significant concern for farmers2.
Identification and Characteristics
Easily identifiable, these stink bugs have a few key features:
- Shield-shaped exoskeleton
- Blotchy brown to grayish color
- Length of 1/2 to 5/8 inches
- White bands on antennae and legs3
Distinguishing them from native stink bugs, these markings set BMSBs apart.
Behavior and Diet
BMSBs are notorious for their unpleasant odor when threatened or crushed. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, and crops such as:
They possess piercing-sucking mouthparts, which allow them to extract plant juices. This often leads to significant damage to both foliage and fruits5.
Preventing Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Infestations
Sealing Your Home
Brown marmorated stink bugs can be a nuisance in homes. To prevent them from entering, seal gaps and cracks on doors, windows, and walls.
Crevices can be closed using caulk and weather stripping. For instance:
- Apply caulk around window frames and door frames
- Install weather stripping around doors and windows
Maintaining Your Garden
To avoid attracting stink bugs, maintain your garden, especially during spring and fall.
Clearing fallen leaves and debris minimizes their hiding places. Be cautious with plants, vegetables, and fruits, as stink bugs are attracted to them.
Simple gardening tips:
- Remove fallen leaves and debris regularly
- Harvest fruits and vegetables as they ripen
Using Screens and Barriers
Another effective way to keep stink bugs out is by using screens and barriers. Install screens on doors and windows to block their entry points.
Pest control can also be helpful if the infestation is severe. For example:
- Install fine mesh screens on doors and windows
- Consider professional pest control services for extreme infestations
Pros and Cons of using screens:
|Effective in blocking entry points
|Can be costly for large homes
|Easy to install
|Requires regular maintenance (cleaning)
Remember, keeping your home sealed and your garden maintained, along with using screens and barriers, can prevent brown marmorated stink bug infestations.
Just follow these simple precautions and maintain a pest-free environment.
How to Get Rid of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: Dealing with Infestations
To get rid of stink bugs in your home, some non-chemical methods can be effective. For example:
- Vacuuming: Use a utility vacuum like a Shop-Vac or a vacuum with a bag, and empty it right away to prevent odor.
- Manual removal: Gently sweep the bugs into a container of soapy water to kill them.
- Sealing entry points: Caulk and seal gaps around windows, doors, and other openings to prevent stink bugs from entering your home.
In case of severe infestations, chemical methods can be used to control stink bugs outdoors:
- Insecticides: Apply insecticides to the underside of plants, especially tomato plants, where stink bugs commonly lay eggs.
- Pesticides: Use pesticides specifically labeled for stink bug control in the environment around your home or garden.
Note: It’s essential to follow the product instructions and precautions when using chemical methods.
Working with Pest Control Companies
If infestations persist, consider hiring a pest control company. Before choosing, compare these features of potential companies:
- Experience: Look for companies with a proven track record in dealing with stink bugs.
- Prices: Compare costs and service packages of different pest control companies.
- Services: Ensure the company offers both chemical and non-chemical treatment options.
- Environmental impact: Check if they use eco-friendly methods and materials.
Keep in mind that working with a reputable pest control company can provide valuable support and guidance during a stink bug infestation.
Impact on Agriculture and the Environment
Damage to Farm Crops
Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) cause significant damage to farm crops by piercing plant tissues and sucking out plant juices.
Major crops affected by BMSB include apples, corn, soybeans, peaches, and beans.
Type of damage:
- Apple: misshapen and discolored fruits
- Corn: kernels are pierced and shrunken
- Soybeans: seeds are deformed and have reduced yield
Effects on Local Ecosystems
BMSB invade various ecosystems, acting as invasive species.
Halyomorpha halys have few natural predators in their new environments, allowing them to reproduce at rapid rates and disrupt local ecosystems.
- Outcompete native species for resources
- Alter food chains, affecting higher trophic levels
Efforts to Control and Mitigate Damage
Farmers and researchers take several approaches to control BMSB and reduce their damage on crops and the environment:
Pheromone traps: Attract and capture stink bugs using attractive chemicals imitating stink bug aggregation pheromones.
Biological control: Introducing native predators and parasitic wasps to control BMSB populations. These beneficial insects can help reduce brown marmorated stink bug numbers.
Chemical control: Use of targeted insecticides to suppress BMSB population without harming beneficial insects.
Physical barriers: Protective netting and screens prevent BMSB from accessing crops.
|May not provide complete control, need regular monitoring
|Environmentally-friendly, long-term solution
|Takes time, may not provide immediate control
|Effective, quick results
|Potential harm to beneficial insects, resistance development
|Non-toxic, no harm to other organisms
|Expensive, labor-intensive, may not be suitable for all crops
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about the brown marmorated stink bugs. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – White Stink Bug is newly metamorphosed Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
White Stink Bug?
Location: Lebanon County, PA
August 4, 2011 2:32 pm
Alright so I know there are many different species of insects but a White Stink Bug with Red markings… While I was frolicking through the forest in Central, PA I found this awesome insect.
I’ve done some research but have not found a name or answer to what this bug is. It is exactly the size of a stink bug but its white, with red markings. Maybe an Albino? I don’t know, so I’ll leave it up to you.
Based on the striped antennae, our gut instinct is that this is a light Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an invasive species that has gotten a foothold in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Perhaps it is a light individual, or perhaps it is freshly metamorphosed and it has not darkened yet. Sure enough, we found a visual match on BugGuide.
Letter 2 – Possibly Brown Marmorated Stink Bug from India
Subject: unknown bug
January 13, 2013 1:41 am
which bug is this and what does it eat?
Signature: Jagdeep Singh
This is a Stink Bug and it looks similar to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (see BugGuide), , a species that has gained notoriety and much publicity in North America since it is an invasive species introduced from Asia that has no significant predators to keep its population in check.
It is multiplying rapidly and spreading its range in North America. The species is also significant as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug enters homes to hibernate during cold weather. We are uncertain if it is native to India as BugGuide lists the range as: “Native to E. Asia.”
Letter 3 – Probably Common Green Shield Bug Hatchlings
Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Raspberry leaf
July 17, 2015 2:06 pm
I found these on the back on a raspberry leaf from a plant I bought a few weeks ago. I’m guessing they’re stink bug babies, but not idea what type! Any help identifying them would be great. I’m located just outside of Bristol in the south-West of England
As you suspected, these are hatchling Stink Bugs, and they bear a striking resemblance to hatchling Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, Halyomorpha halys, which you can verify by comparing to this image on BugGuide. We are well aware of the rapid spread of this invasive Asian species in North America, but we did not know of any UK sightings, so we did some research.
According to a November 2014 posting on BBC News: “An agricultural pest dubbed the stink bug could establish itself within the UK, according to a scientist. Entomologist Max Barclay said it was ‘it is only a matter of time’ before the brown marmorated stink bug arrives in the country. Two of the insects have already been found on imported timber headed for Britain.
The bug, which is native to the Far East, has already reached France and Germany. Mr Barclay, from London’s Natural History Museum, told the Daily Mail newspaper: ‘I think the brown marmorated stink bug will establish a population here. It is only a matter of time. It will make its presence felt fairly quickly because it comes into people’s homes in the autumn and winter.’
Its name comes from the putrid stench it releases from its glands when threatened. The insect was first found in the US in the late 1990s, but has now spread across much of the country. Since then, it has become a severe pest of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants.”
You might want to report this sighting to your local agricultural agency. It is possible that the invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug eggs were on the raspberry plant when you purchased it, or it is also possible that they are already established, but passing unnoticed in your area. It is also possible that this is a different species of Stink Bug.
Letter 4 – Newly Metamorphosed Stink Bug might be Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in South Africa
Subject: Unusual pink bug in Johannesburg South Africa
Location: South Africa, Johannesburg
January 4, 2017 1:24 pm
Hi, love your site thank you for the interesting and informative info you post. I live in the country side just outside Johannesburg, South Africa. It is mid summer here and my son noticed this very unusual bug on the wall in the house.
At first we thought it was one bug which had a an upper pink portion with a black end disguised to look like a head too but when we out it in a bottle to take it outside we noticed that it was in fact two bugs and the pink bug was pushing a half digested black.
If out its anterior end! Can’t find any info on this and was hoping you could tell is what this bug is?
The albino-like coloration of this Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an indication that it just emerged from its cast off nymphal exoskeleton. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an invasive, exotic species originally from Asia that has spread across North America in a very short period of time.
Retraction: January 19, 2017
Though this is a newly metamorphosed Stink Bug, we cannot state for certain that it is a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Thanks to Curious Girl for pointing out to us that there are no known reports of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in South Africa.
The Invasive Species Compendium does not list sightings in South Africa. We based our identification on the striped antennae which are distinctive in the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This may be a first reported sighting.
Letter 5 – Probably Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Eggs
Subject: Mystery eggs
Location: Alton, Illinois, USA
May 28, 2017 1:12 pm
I was wandering around my yard with my tortoise when I discovered a tiny dying leaf with tiny eggs on it. I am totally clueless and need help identifying!
Signature: Sarah D
We are quite certain these are Stink Bug eggs, and after comparing them to this BugGuide image, we are fairly certain they are Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halymorpha halys, eggs. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an Invasive Exotic Species and according to BugGuide:
“Native to E. Asia, adventive elsewhere(2); in our area, mostly e US and West Coast states.” First collected in Pennsylvania in 1998, in just a few years, this noxious species has spread from coast to coast according to BugGuide data. In addition to doing major agricultural damage, according to BugGuide:
“Highly polyphagous, reported on ~300 plant spp. in its native range; feeds mostly on fruit, but also on leaves, stems, petioles, flowers, and seeds. Damage typically confined to fruiting structures,” the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a source of consternation to homemakers because they frequently enter homes in large numbers to hibernate when the weather begins to cool.