09/26/2017 | Why Are Stink Bugs in New York?
Stink bugs haven’t been the menace of New York for nearly as long as rodents or roaches, which is probably why they’ve slipped under most people’s radars. Make no mistake, however: stink bugs are here, they’re here in force, and once you smell them, you’ll be hard-pressed to forget about them.
The scariest thing about stink bugs by far is the unknown. Freaky as they are, you know what you’re dealing with when you see a cockroach. But a stink bug? You don’t know what is going on there. That’s why we’re writing this blog. Here’s everything you need to know about stink bugs in New York this fall.
What Do They Look Like?
Stink bugs are a species of “true bug” that are about ⅝ inches long fully grown, with tan-brown bodies and darker, striped or marbled brown markings on their upper and lower bodies. The common species of stink bug in New York is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Like most species, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is “shield” shaped and almost as wide as it is long.
You can distinguish Brown Marmorated stink bugs from others by looking for the single white band on their each of their legs and antennae, their smooth (not rough) shoulders, and the dark bands on the tips of their front wings. For a shorthand, if you see a small, flat-looking, shield-shaped brown bug, it’s probably a Brown Marmorated stink bug.
Where Are They Coming From?
The stink bug was originally native to Southeast Asia, where it’s a known agricultural pest in countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The species of true bug was discovered for the first time in the US in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1988. The absence of usual predators and abundance of food has helped the stink bug expand to most US states, including New York itself.
Stink bugs are active for most of the year, but you’ll probably only notice them starting in early to mid fall. Stink bugs spend most of their time sheltering in trees, under rocks, or in warm, shaded areas. When temperatures start to drop, stink bugs look for places to hibernate. If you see a mass of stink bugs hanging around outside your property, it’s because they want in!
What Do They Want?
Finally, some good news: stink bugs are really just looking for a place to crash. They hibernate over the winter, but they can’t do that unless they’re warm and safe. Stink bugs don’t mate or lay eggs inside, eat any indoor food, plants, or other products, or do structural damage. They even leave your home to eat and mate during spring.
Stink bugs congregate close together around buildings in order to maximize their time in the warmth of the sun, to keep one another warm, or to thoroughly search for ways they can squeeze inside. Should they succeed, very large quantities of stink bugs could infest your property. They’ll find hiding places and sleep eventually, but until then they’ll be around… stinking up the place.
Are They Dangerous?
No. Stink bugs don’t attack humans, they don’t cause substantial structural damage to buildings, and they don’t spread disease. Large concentrations may exacerbate airborne allergies, but for the most part stink bugs are totally harmless. Stink bugs earned their name for the distinctive scent of secretions they release from specialized glands in their abdomens when threatened or crushed. These secretions may smell vaguely like very strong cilantro. It stinks. Go figure.
The stink bug secretion isn’t dangerous, either. It can be quite unpleasant, however, especially if encountered indoors and/or if many stink bugs produce it at once. The clear or yellowish liquid secretions may also stain flooring, furniture, or other fabrics if enough of it sinks into them.
How Can I Keep Them Out?
Stink bugs usually congregate around the southern or western sides of buildings so they can stay in the sun as long as possible. Their flat bodies make it easy for them to crawl through gaps in window and door frames, air conditioner units, or utility lines. Even cracks in the wall or floor may provide enough room to squeeze through. Many stink bugs may be attracted to hot air blown out of exhaust or plumbing vents, and use them to crawl into a building.
To keep stink bugs out this fall, look for vulnerable areas around your property and seal them up with steel wool or caulk. Put grates or mesh over vent openings and inside shafts. Pay special attention to windows, because stink bugs love to absorb heat off of glass. If you can feel a draft anywhere in your building, there’s an opening big enough for a stink bug somewhere.
It may be true that stink bugs are far from the most troubling pest, but it’s tough to remember that when you’re smelling them day and night. Dangerous or not, stink bugs are pests, and you should deal with them the way you deal with all pests: by getting them out and keeping them out.
If you need help with either, give Assured a call. Our expert technicians have been in this business a long time, and we know how to take care of your business. With a little help from your friendly neighborhood pest control team, you can head into fall smelling like a rose.