Move Over Bed Bugs, Here Come the Stink Bugs


Even while the bed bug problem is still unresolved, a smelly situation has been thrown into the mix: stink bugs. Although these insects are typically a big problem for crops, stink bugs are now invading households.

Stink bugs are moving into homes

Fall is the time when stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) start to move away from the crops that they feast on during the summer and are attracted to the outside of homes in search of winter quarters. They may reappear during warmer sunny days during the winter, but then re-emerge in the spring.


In the northeastern part of the United States, these bugs are getting into people’s homes, and the bad news is there are no pesticides effective against these smelly creatures. The good news is that, unlike bed bugs, they do not bite.

Although a common and native pest in Asia, brown marmorated stink bugs were first identified in the United States in 1998 in Pennsylvania. According to Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, the bugs have appeared in other states since that time, including California, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia.

The bugs are so named because they secrete a foul-smelling substance from small glands on their thorax. The stinky fluid apparently is a defense mechanism, and it seems to work because these bugs have no natural enemies. If you get this substance on your skin, you can wash it off and should experience no effects.

Adult stink bugs are 14 to 17 millimeters long and have dark mottled brown coloring. To keep them out of your home, make sure you seal any cracks and openings to the outside of the house using caulk or weather stripping. Torn screens should be repaired or replaced. If you vacuum up live or dead stink bugs in the house, dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag outside. Use of insecticides is not considered a good solution. Prevention is your best strategy, and vacuuming often is your safest mode of attack once they are in the house.

Penn State
University of Maryland