Saturday, September 25, 2010

Invasion of the Stink Bugs in Washington, D.C.

Brown marmorated stink bug
No, the title of this article does not refer to Congress returning from their summer break. Rather, it refers to the brown marmorated stink bug that is swarming through the D.C. metropolitan area destroying crops and vegetation.   This type of stink bug is an invasive species from Asia that has been in the area for about a decade.  The shield-shaped insects don't bite, but they decimate crops and infest homes - and they certainly lives up to their name, emitting a foul odor from their backsides when threatened or when they die.  Their numbers have reached epidemic proportions in parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland this year, and appear to be headed for other parts of the US.

Stink bugs pose no threat to humans other than their annoying smell and ability to squeeze through the tiniest crack to invade homes.  However, they can do major damage to crops.  They have a hollow, needle-like mouthpiece that pierces fruit and vegetables, injecting their saliva with a special enzyme that breaks down the fruit into a liquid.  Then the stink bug sucks the liquid out, leaving a dent or dimple behind.  Around my house, they have ruined my entire tomato crop this year, and left me nothing but a bunch of dimpled and shriveled tomatoes that are unfit to eat.

Unfortunately, stink bugs have no natural enemies in this country, so there is nothing to keep their population growth in check.  The Department of Agriculture is working hard to determine the insects weakness and vulnerabilities, but so far they have proven highly resistant to insecticides and their immediate goal is to formulate a list of recommendations for farmers before next growing season that will help limit crop damage.

For homeowners, little that can be done to prevent them from entering a dwelling except to caulk around all windows and seal all openings around doors as much as possible, not unlike what one would do the weatherproof a house..  If they get in your home, my advice is don't vacuum them up with your vacuum cleaner unless you want your whole house to smell like stink bugs.  The Grouch's secret formula is  a mixture of dishwashing liquid and water in a glass.  Just knock the stink bugs into that mixture and they will die within 30 seconds, and you will spare yourself a lot of unpleasantness.


  1. The Grouch---I have tried your recommendation for ridding our house of stinkbugs and it sure does work... you put a glass of dishwashing liquid and water combined underneath of them and they just hop in a die. Now mind you, it should be a fairly large glass. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Never had any contact with stink bugs. Only roaches, ants, termites, sugar ants and red ants.

  3. I hope they never make it to your area. We are absolutely infested with them here in Maryland. I can easily kill hundreds every days, but there are millions all around with no natural enemies. No predator will touch them.

  4. that is also what happen to our crops when stink bugs invade our farm. and also during at night they flew towards our light bulbs.