If you’ve noticed a crowd of six-legged, uninvited visitors creeping around your doors and windows in recent weeks, you’re not alone.
The brown marmorated stink bug is back out in force — and they’re looking for a place to spend the winter.
The invasive species, which originates from east Asia, was first reported in the eastern United States in 1998. It’s been slowly working its way west ever since, and was confirmed in Missouri back in 2013. Over the last few years, it’s become increasingly prevalent here in Johnson County.
“[We] have been getting reports for three or four years,” said Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Agent Dennis Patton. “Reports seem to be increasing.”
The insects don’t pose any real health risk to people. They aren’t vectors for any diseases, and they don’t bite. But, as their name would indicated, they do emit an unpleasant odor if they’re crushed or disturbed.
Stink bugs do post a nuisance to backyard gardens and large-scale agriculture during the summer months, when they feed on leaves and crops. But their feeding slows this time of year as they look for a place to overwinter — and human dwellings are an attractive place to do just that.
“They need the warmth of the home to over winter,” Patton said. “So they are attracted by the warming of the sun. Of course finding their ways through small openings.”
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prevent the bugs from trying to get inside a home. Experts recommend keeping screens and doors tight and looking to seal any cracks around the frames, because the bugs need only the slightest gap to make entry.
For bugs that have found their way in, it’s best to try to gently relocate them outside using a tissue, as squishing them will cause the “stink” that gives them their name. Vacuum cleaners can also be an effective tool to remove both live and dead stink bugs from inside a home.