Stink bugs out in full force

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Recently, we’ve received several calls regarding the presence of stink bugs on or inside houses. The pest in question is a species of stink bug that is relatively new to our area. The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) was first reported in North Carolina in 2009. Since then, we’ve seen a steady increase in their population.

Anyone who has smashed a stink bug knows how it got its name.  In addition to a foul odor, stink bugs have shells that resemble shields and are relatives of the squash bug, a consistent pest of squash in gardens. Brown marmorated stink bugs have black and white banding on their antennae and the edge of their back.

BMSB can be a pest of fruit trees when they feed on the fruit. Stink bugs damage apples by leaving corky, brown spots just under the skin of the fruit. BMSB eggs resemble those of squash bugs and are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves.

During the summer, these insects spend their time on plants in the landscape, but when cool weather arrives in the fall, they seek shelter and migrate to structures. Currently, they can be seen hanging out on exterior walls. In some cases, they may get into the house, usually through cracks around doors and windows.

Follow these tips to prevent stink bugs from gaining entry into your home:

  • Install tight-fitting sweeps at the bottom of doors.
  • Install or adjust weatherstripping to close cracks around doors.
  • Caulk around windows, doors, and fascia boards.
  • Repair or replace damaged window screens.
  • Seal openings where cables or pipes enter foundation or siding.

I’m frequently asked if there is something that can be sprayed to prevent stink bugs from getting on or in a home.  There is no practical treatment (using a pesticide or otherwise) that will keep stink bugs off of your property. The most effective method is to seal up your home and eliminate any that gain entry into your home.

There are pesticides that are labeled for application around windows and doors. However, these products are at best a temporary solution, and are not recommended, as any cracks that are not sealed will still allow pests to enter your home.

For more information on BMSB, visit

Brown marmorated stink bugs have black and white banding on their antennae and the sides of their back. They’ve earned the stink in their name from the foul odor they emit. (Photo courtesy of David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ, For answers to your lawn and landscape questions, call the Iredell County Cooperative Extension Service at 704-873-0507.

–Amanda Taylor, Extension Agent

Written By

Photo of Kelly PierceKelly Pierce4-H Program Associate (704) 878-3151 kelly_pierce@ncsu.eduIredell County, North Carolina
Updated on Oct 2, 2012
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