Q: With the warm weather, I thought we wouldn’t have to deal with stink bugs so soon, but I’ve been finding them in my house already. What gives?
Answer: “Weather is just one factor,” said Mike Waldvogel, an entomologist with N.C. State University Cooperative Extension.
“The other factor is photoperiod — as the days grow shorter, the stink bugs start to look for places to pass the winter. So, the warmer weather may slow the process, but the bugs are going to look for places soon.”
The annual invasion of stink bugs is only in its early stages right now. It will increase as the days get shorter and the weather eventually gets cooler.
In an agricultural or forested area, stink bugs typically will crawl under rocks or in bark crevices.
In a residential setting, though, your house “makes for an attractive place to spend the winter with you,” Waldvogel said.
Your best strategy is to keep them from getting into your house in the first place. Since the weather hasn’t turned yet, this is a good time to try.
“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, “ according to a report from Penn State’s cooperative extension service. .
“Damaged screens on doors and windows should be repaired or replaced. Exterior applications of insecticides may offer some minor relief from infestations where the task of completely sealing the exterior is difficult or impossible,” the report says.
If the creatures do get inside, “both live and dead stink bugs can be removed from interior areas with the aid of a vacuum cleaner. However, the vacuum may acquire the smell of stink bugs for a period of time, “ Penn State advises.
The experts there do not recommend using insecticides on the insects once they are inside, adding that spray insecticides “will not prevent the bugs from emerging and is not a viable or recommended treatment.”
Waldvogel said there is “still no magic bullet” for getting rid of stink bugs and commercially available traps “may produce disappointing results to users. ... It’s not like trying to protect a fruit tree or plants in your garden.”
Regarding the advice of using a vacuum cleaner, he added that one common tactic is to use an old pair of pantyhose or knee-high stockings and sticking it down the tube, keeping it in place with a rubber band. That way, you can vacuum up the bugs and dispose of them a little more easily.
“Remind folks that if they use a Shop-Vac and just suck them up, they need to clean it out,” he said. Otherwise, you’ll soon find out where stink bugs get their name.
On the subject of insecticides, Waldvogel pointed out that one of the biggest problems would be covering critical areas of the house when the stink bugs are most active, and having the chemical last long enough to work.
For more information, visit https://extension.psu.edu/brown-marmorated-stink-bug.