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BROWN MARMORATED STINK BUGS ARE PERMANENT RESIDENTS

By Chris Williams on April 18, 2018.

We are approaching that time in spring when certain outdoor insects that have been spending the winter hiding in your house are waking up and looking for a way back outside. The brown marmorated stink bug is one of those insects that some of us in the Northeast see every fall and spring, but others never see at all. It can depend on your proximity to one of the bug’s host plants. If you live near an infested crop field, you may see plenty of these plant-feeding bugs trying to get into your house in the fall.

THIS BUG MADE ITSELF RIGHT AT HOME!

The name of this insect is a mouthful so we sometimes just call it the BMSB. A lot of us know what a stink bug looks like – rather shield-shaped, usually dull brown or green. It’s a good-sized bug at more than ½-inch long and if you turned it over, you would see the long piercing proboscis that it uses to suck up plant juices. It doesn’t bite but if you squished it or harassed it, it would release the strong smell that gives it its name. Some say it smells like the herb cilantro, others say it’s more like dirty feet.

The BMSB is an unwelcome invader in the U.S. that first hitched a ride from Asia, probably in a cargo container. It was first noticed in eastern Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then it has spread across the U.S. and into parts of southern Canada. It can now be found in some part of 48 states. The brown marmorated stink bug is a successful invader because it feeds on hundreds of different host plants, including many field crops and fruits. It also is a very successful hitchhiker. It’s thought that is how it made it to California so quickly, somebody accidentally carried it there.

STINK BUGS IN NEW ENGLAND HOMES

The first New Hampshire sighting of the BMSB was in the summer of 2010. As of 2015, it had been reported from 20 counties. It is currently a household pest in a few communities with Portsmouth seeming to have the biggest problem. Over its seven years in New Hampshire, BMSB numbers have not increased significantly overall, but their distribution has spread. Even in Maine officials say that the brown marmorated stink bug now appears to be a permanent fixture in their state.

Massachusetts recorded its first brown marmorated stink bug in Bridgewater in 2007. It has now been reported in many counties in the state. In the Northeast, there have not yet been any serious BMSB crop infestations like the Mid-Atlantic region experienced on soybeans, probably due to our more severe winters. Growers say effects are just beginning to be felt in Massachusetts fruit orchards. Instead, most of the problem sightings have been in homes when the bugs mass together in the fall and try to move into winter quarters.

If this happened to you and you are now seeing brown marmorated stink bugs in your home, contact Colonial and ask what we can do to help. Planning ahead for next fall’s invasion by pest-proofing your home and treating around exterior doors, windows, and other entrance points will greatly reduce the number of stink bugs that will call your house “home” this winter.

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