Stink bug invasion: What you can do

Invaded by stink bugs? You might be out of luck.

The brownish-gray bugs are making their way into houses all across the Buckeye State this time of year.

"Right now, they're trying to find a place to stay over winter," said Tammi Rogers, the agriculutural and natural resources program assistant with the OSU Extension Office in Coshocton County.

The bugs hatch from their eggs each year in the early spring, then spend most of their lives feeding upon greenery across the countryside.

"They are actually becoming quite a pest for ag crops," Rogers said. "They are not a native species to America."

Ohio does have a native version of the stink bug that is less common. The new version — the brown marmorated stink bug — were accidentally introduced from Asia in the 1900s, and reached Ohio in the early 2000s.

People generally don't see too many stink bugs until late in the autumn.

"Now that it's cooling and the days are getting shorter, that's kind of their cue to find a place to use as an over-wintering site," Rogers said.

By the time the first freeze of the year hits, there won't be too many stink bugs outside.

"Inside you may still get a few who wake up," Rogers said. "You'll find them in your house all winter long because it's warm in there."

The only real way to rid a home of stink bugs is to keep them from entering. Rogers said to ensure all doors, windows and roof lines are sealed tightly.

Tamara Gerhardt of Absolute Pest Control Services in Mansfield said spraying the house won't eliminate all of the bugs.

"You cannot get rid of them," Gerhardt said. "You can only minimize them."

Rogers said many people either throw the bugs outside, flush them in the toilet or squish them, although squishing them releases the notorious odor for which the bugs are named. Vacuuming them is a bad idea, Rogers said, because that quickly spreads their smell throughout the entire house.

She added that there are no known repellents for the insects.

"The issue with non-native species is they don't have any natural predators, so their numbers can grow exponentially since there's nothing feeding on them to keep their numbers in check," Rogers said.

Because there are no predators, Rogers said the stink bug population has slowly grown since they came to the state about 15 years ago. She doubts the population will get too out-of-control.

"Since it's a new pest, we're not sure how it's going to be manifest," Rogers said. "I suspect we'll have years where their populations are quite high and then years where you won't see very many of them."


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