Close the windows. Bolt the doors. Stink bugs have invaded Perry Hall and there's a good chance they're trying to get in your house or destroy your vegetable garden right now.
The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, found its way into the United States in a shipping container from Asia back in October 2001, according to Jerry Brust, an insect and agricultural expert with the University of Maryland Extension, Home and Garden Information Center.
The center has received a record number of calls and complaints about stink bugs in Maryland homes. Brust attributes their recent prevalence to an unusually hot and dry summer. These climate conditions were not only conducive to the insects' population growth, but they also caused the insects to turn to Maryland crops for food. Brust hopes that different conditions next year will decrease their population.
As stated by officials at the Maryland Department of Agriculture last week, "The stink bug does not bite or sting and can't harm humans or homes." They do, however, pose a significant threat to area orchards and crops, including apples, peaches, legumes such as soybeans. Homeowners have also blamed stink bugs for deformation, discoloration and rot found on tomatoes, peppers and raspberries.
Stink bug infestations can be prevented if homeowners seal up cracks with caulk, use weather stripping around doors and windows, remove window air conditioners and close all possible entry points, said officials at the HGIC. Once stink bugs enter the home, they can be vacuumed or placed in an outdoor trash can. Be careful about squashing them, officials warn, or you'll find out why they got their name.
Experts at the MDA do not currently recommend any pesticides to kill or remove stink bugs from homes. They stated, "consumers should never use, or allow anyone else to use, a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use, as indicated on the label." They added that many pesticides are harmful to humans and pets and are not even effective in removing stink bugs.