Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
- Scientific name: Halyomorpha halys
- Size: 3/4th an inch long
- Color: Shades of brown with various colored markings (gray, off-white, black, copper and blue)
- Shape: “Shield” shaped
- Found in: Over 40 states, believed to have started on the Eastern seaboard of the United States
What are they?
The brown marmorated stink bug is also known as just a “stink bug” and is an invasive species from Asia (specifically the countries of China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan). It was accidentally introduced from these countries and was first observed in the wild in the United States in the late 1990s. Since they have been discovered in the wild in the United States, the brown marmorated stink bug has become an agricultural pest in orchards across the US. The stink bug gets it’s name from the distinctive, harsh odor it emits that resembles the smell of cilantro. The brown marmorated stink bug has developed this scent as a defense against predators, but just handling the bug can cause it to spray and the smell can linger for an extended period of time. This is also a type of “true bug,” which are so called because of the proboscis arrangement of their mouthparts.
How can you tell you have them?
Brown marmorated stink bugs are uniquely shaped and easy to spot with the naked eye. This type of stink bug is more likely than any of the others of their kind to invade human habitation. They will be brought out of their hibernation in the winter months by the heat produced by climate control and will fly inside the house, usually around light fixtures. If you have ornamental fruit trees or garden edible crops, you will be able to tell if you have brown marmorated stink bugs by the amount of damage done to the plants and fruits.
What kind of environment do they like?
The brown marmorated stink bug is believed to have spread to the United States through transportation on packing crates. The beginning of the infestation is believed to have been traced to Pennsylvania, though some sources say that they were found in New Jersey before then. They prefer the type of environment that will provide shelter for them to hibernate in the winter yet provide them with an adequate source to feed up to 4 generations during a growing season. They prefer older houses with lots of nooks and crannies for them to shelter in during cold weather.
The brown marmorated stink bug is an agricultural pest. It can cause a great deal of damage to both fruit and vegetable crops. In it’s original area of the world it damages soybean crops and fruit crops as well. In the United States this pest likes to feed on peaches, apples, green beans, soybeans and berry crops This type of pest uses it’s proboscis to suck out the fluids within the host plant, leaving behind dimpled, rotting area on the outer surface of the fruit. These feeding habits can cause seed loss and leaf stippling as well as leaving the plant open to secondary infections and diseases. In fact, this kind of damage to plants has lead to speculation that plant diseases are actually spread by infestations of these bugs. They can cause a large amount of damage to hobby gardens as well.
What to do?
Because of the invasive nature of these pests, eradication and treatment can be tricky, especially in the home. The Department of Agriculture has said that some insecticides may not work as well because of the way these bugs are known to feed. It is advised that the average homeowner seeks professional assessment if not assistance in dealing with these pests.