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Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs Are On The Rise

Photo courtesy of the USDA

Homes, farms, businesses and entire cities are becoming home to an unwelcome new visitor: The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This stink bug has been reported in at least 40 US states, and is known to be breeding in at least 15 of those.

This bug breeds prolifically, and can cause harm to certain crops in addition to invading homes. Mid-Atlantic apple farms saw $37 million in damage from stink bugs in 2010 alone. In the past year the population of these bugs has grown by 60%. This massive population surge has left residents of certain parts of California so overrun with these bugs that they’ve taken to removing them using shovels and large buckets. 

These stink bugs are a major problem now, but they are a relatively new threat. This type of bug was not found in the United States until they were accidentally transported to eastern Pennsylvania, where they were discovered in 1998. Until this time they were only known to be found in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. They are considered a pest in these places as well, but their effects have never been as detrimental due to a type of wasp that’s also found in these Asian countries.

Photo courtesy of USDA

So what can be done about this growing  brown marmorated stink bug problem in the US? The USDA is currently researching the bugs and the wasps that pray on them to see if it would be a risk to release them into affected areas. The wasps, called Trissolcus halyomorphae, will not sting humans. They do, however, feed on the stink bug, and even lay eggs within the stink bug’s eggs. This way when the bugs don’t stand a chance of surviving upon hatching. Scientists will not be done with their research for some time, and these wasps will not be released until 2016 at the earliest.

Until the stink bug population is controlled use extra caution to prevent these bugs from finding their way into your home. Seal all doors and windows, ensure that screens fit snugly and are not torn, and remove any window air conditioning units to help keep them out. Bugs that do find their way into your home should be removed immediately before breeding occurs. If you attempt to crush them they will release an unpleasant odor, so the best way to remove them is by sucking them up using a vacuum cleaner or shop vac. Gently picking them up with a tissue or paper towel and dropping them into soapy water can also be effective.

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