Do You Have These Uninvited Guests?

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It is that time of year when we start getting a few calls at the extension office regarding an uninvited guest. You probably see them crawling near doorways or windows, trying to hide from you and just make it through the winter. You may have been thinking about eccentric relatives that come for the holidays but I’m talking about the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The BMSB is about a half inch long, has a shield shaped body, has whitish bands on the antennae and legs, and smells unpleasant when crushed.

The BMSB is an invasive pest, introduced from Asia into Pennsylvania in the 1990’s. It first appeared in North Carolina in 2009 in Forsyth County. Since that time BMSB has spread rapidly through the mountains and piedmont regions of NC. It is confirmed in 64 of the 100 counties of NC and Catawba County is one of them. The adults survive the winter by hiding under tree bark, debris, or inside man-made structures. The adults will then leave the overwintering site to mate and lay eggs in the spring. While this may be interesting most folks want to know two things – how do I kill them and how do I keep them out of my home.

How to kill BMSB in your home – Insecticide sprays for BMSB in your home is not a good control strategy. Stink bugs move around and there may be some more stink bugs moving in. It would be difficult to effectively control them with insecticides without contaminating your living space. Furthermore, spraying insecticides will result in a lot of dead stink bugs in your walls, attics, and difficult to access areas. Dead stink bugs will be attractive to other unwanted pests. The best solution is to pick up individuals and drown them in soapy water or utilize a vacuum to suck them up as they appear. Squashing them can be satisfying but that smell is not pleasant. Throwing them outside will probably result in the insect re-entering the house.

How to keep BMSB out of your home – The key to keeping BMSB out of your home is to seal all of the potential entry points with foam sealant, caulk, weatherstripping, and screening over your attic ventilation openings. Cracks under the door or window are typical entry points.

Remember that BMSB is coming in your home to survive the winter as an adult, not reproduce in your home. Insecticides are not necessary. Seal all of the small holes and remove invaders by hand or use a vacuum to avoid a mess.

The Cooperative Extension Service is your connection to research based information from our land grant universities: NC State and NC A&T. The Cooperative Extension Service provides consultation and educational programming in the areas of food, agriculture, and 4-H youth empowerment. If you have questions or want to attend our programs sign up for our monthly update newsletter or call our office at 828-465-8240.