Have you seen them? Smelled them? Those grayish creatures, ranging in size from a penny to a quarter that are popping up on screens and windows? They’re stink bugs, and if you’ve tried to squash one, you know that they smell dreadful upon popping. After a traumatic run-in with a fleet of them, The List consulted Dan Seymour, operations manager at Orkin in Arlington, about what locals can do about the recent influx of stink bugs.
What are stink bugs?
A “really creepy” insect that is not indigenous to the mid-Atlantic, says Seymour. They aren’t total strangers to the area (Seymour estimates that one of every 100 houses he treated last summer was stink-bugged), but the last few weeks have been dramatically worse (“Now it’s one out of 10”).
Where are stink bugs coming from?
Seymour says that the stink bug “epicenter” is in Pennsylvania, where the bugs are rumored to have arrived by boat from southeastern China. Now they’re “going north to New York and south toward us, in time,” he says, though Pittsburgh and neighboring cities are still inundated with them. Matt Shaffer of Gateway Exterminating in Pittsburgh confirms this. “We’re booked two weeks ahead,” he says. “We’re not even taking more calls on stink bugs.”
How many stink bugs are there?
A lot. Half of the calls placed to Orkin are in regards to stink bugs, which add up to 10 a day, and The List can personally account for at least 22 dead stink bugs in her trash can right now. Shaffer is taking 40-50 stink bug calls a day.
What do stink bugs want?
A cozy winter place, probably in your attic insulation, says Seymour. When a cold snap hits, they’ll all want in; in the spring, they’ll emerge from the attic eaves and try to get out.
How can I keep stink bugs away?
“The most important thing is for people to caulk around their house,” says Seymour. “Make sure everything is tightened up and winterized.” Owners of old homes, which have more cracks and crevasses, are more vulnerable to sneak stink bug attacks. Start with the south side of the house, where Seymour says they like to warm themselves.
How can I destroy stink bugs?
Crushing them releases their stink, and spraying hasn’t been as effective as Seymour would like it to be. “It’s been a big challenge,” he admits. “A lot of pesticides don’t work on them.” Shaffer offers this home remedy that has sprung up in Pittsburgh: spray your screens with aerosol hairspray to deter stink bugs from landing. “I don’t know if any of these are working,” he says. “It’s just what people are telling me.”
Will stink bugs hurt me or my plants?
Shaffer says stink bugs are “vegetarians,” so they don’t want to eat you. They do, however, want to eat any fruit you have growing on your property (or crops on your farm) and can leave unappetizing marks on whatever they snack on.
Can I just let the stink bugs be?
They won’t hurt you, but Seymour says, “A lot of people are creeped out by bugs, so I can’t say that’s a good idea.”
How do I get the stink of stink bugs out of my house?
If you have crushed a stink bug and are now experiencing what Seymour calls “that really nasty smell,” he recommends “some kind of deodorizing product…like Febreeze or something.”