The return of warm weather means a lot of great things—swimming, cookouts, parades, baseball. But it also means the return of one of the Mid-Atlantic states' most ubiquitous pests—the Halyomorpha halys, or brown marmorated stink bug.
Somehow accidentally introduced in the United States during the late 20th century (or thereabouts), stink bugs are now so prevalent that exterminating them—or at least trying to do so—has become quite the industry.
A "stink bugs" search on Amazon.com shows a number of traps and sprays for sale—and even a book—that are designed to get rid of the exotic insects.
But how can they be prevented from first coming into our homes, where they buzz and fly and create a foul odor when crushed? And, lest we forget, they're pretty creepy.
Well, it'll be hard. Because there are lots and lots of them.
"Each female stink bug lays approximately 200 eggs at least once a year, creating that many more stink bugs to infest homes and cropland later in the year and make more baby stink bugs next year," said Tracy Leskey, an entomologist and stink bug researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.
And, according to Steve Jacobs, an urban entomologist at Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, "Warm spring and summer conditions could permit the development of two or three generations (of stink bugs per year)."
Despite the many sprays and traps available to fight stink bugs, Jacobs writes, "Mechanical exclusion is the best method to keep stink bugs from entering homes and buildings. Cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys and underneath the wood fascia and other openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Damaged screens on doors and windows should be repaired or replaced."
Jacobs acknowledges that insecticides "may offer some minor relief from infestations," but also writes, "Unfortunately, because insecticides are broken down by sunlight, the residual effect of the material will be greatly decreased and may not kill the insects much beyond several days or a week."
Jacobs is also not a fan of using insecticides indoors once the bugs have reached your home.
"Although aerosol-type pyrethrum foggers will kill stink bugs that have amassed on ceilings and walls in living areas, it will not prevent more of the insects from emerging shortly after the room is aerated," he writes. "For this reason, use of these materials is not considered a good solution to long-term management of the problem. Spray insecticides, directed into cracks and crevices, will not prevent the bugs from emerging and is not a viable or recommended treatment."
Many folks have turned to home remedies in order to slay the beasts in a non-stinky way—and to prevent them from coming indoors.
Do you have a practice that has worked well for you? Tell us (please!) in the comments section below.
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