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Where Did All the Stink Bugs Come From?

By Katie Nelson

There’s no doubt that by now you’ve likely seen (or smelled) stink bugs if you’re living in the Midwest (or United States, for that matter). The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has become a well known invasive species to the Midwest, and most of the United States. They measure around 1.7 centimeters in length and form the shield shape that they’re known for. They are typically brown, grey, black, and white in color. Marmorated means variegated or veined like a marble, which described the marble-like markings on the back on the stink bugs.

Their name comes from the odorous smell they give off if squished, which is often described as smelling like rotten cilantro. They continue to become a more common Midwestern insect found in and around homes and businesses.

Where Do They Come From and How Did They Get Here?

There are several species native to the United States, but the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are native to Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan. In China, the species’ greatest predator is a wasp called Trissolcus japonicus. This species is not currently found in the United States, but is under study for introduction. However many believe that it too would become an invasive species with no known predators, as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug did. In Japan and now in the United States, these pests feed on soybeans and fruit crops. They arrived aboard cargo ships.

When Did They Get Here?

The first documented Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in the United States was found in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, sightings have popped up all around the United States. They are becoming a well known name in households. As of 2011, there were 34 U.S. States with sighting, and 40 states by 2012, with a 60% increase in numbers since.

Why Do They Stink?

Stink Bugs have glands in their abdomens that secrete compounds as a defense against predators. The compounds are called aldehydes and two major aldehydes responsible for the scent include Trans-2-octenal and Trans-2-decenal. Research has found that these compounds are anti fungal, but there isn’t any conclusive evidence that they are antibacterial.

What is Being Done to Control Their Population?

The Department of Agriculture has developed a pheromone that is used in baiting. Stink Bug control and management is crucial throughout the year due to them not being social creatures, in order to make sure that another population doesn’t move in after the previous was exterminated. As of currently, they are non-reportable and there is no reason to have them exterminated nationally, despite being a major pest to homes. We believe it’s becoming crucial to use a management program that targets stink bugs when protecting your homes from these pests. If they get into the wall voids of your home, you will soon find yourself with an infestation.

Let Us Help You Make Stink Bugs a Thing of the Past

While not damaging to the structure of your home, Stink Bugs still are inconvenient and invasive pests. We have many happy clients in Iowa who are living stink bug free in their homes. Call us at (515) 200-2668 to protect your home from not just stink bugs, but also for pests such as ants, wasps, and mice.