I spend the weekend answering bug questions for people at a NJ festival. What did people ask me more than any other question? Where the heck did all these stink bugs come from?! I heard many stories from people who've been battling infestations of stink bugs in their homes.
Brown marmorated stink bug nymph, with characteristic antennae markings. Photo: © Gary Bernon, USDA APHIS, Bugwood.org
The stink bug in question is without a doubt the brown marmorated stink bug, an exotic, invasive insect from Asia. In the late 1990's, the brown marmorated stink bug has been spotted in numerous states, particularly in the Middle Atlantic region and on the West coast. Over the past two years, these pests seem to have multiplied in NJ. According to the Jersey Journal, pest control companies report a rise in calls from homeowners trying to rid their residences of the Asian stink bugs. You can differentiate this brown stink bug from other similarly brown stink bugs by looking at the antennae. The Asian stink bugs have alternating bands of dark and light colors along the length of their antennae.
While stink bugs in your home probably aren't your idea of fun, they aren't going to do any damage to you or your possessions. Farmers are the ones that have to worry about brown marmorated stink bugs, which feed on fruits like apples, peaches, and citrus crops. They've also been found on ornamental plants and crops like soybeans.
For homeowners, your best weapon against a stink bug invasion is your vacuum. Use a vacuum hose to suck the bugs up, and then remove your vacuum bag, place it in a garbage bag, tie it up tight, and take it outside to your garbage can. Do I need to state the obvious? Don't squish them - they stink! And don't bother with a bug bomb or other pesticide treatment; these are not shown to be effective for an indoor stink bug infestation.