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Brown-Marmorated Stink Bugs

Spider versus Asian Stink Bug on 5/15/10.

Last Updated: 11/11/13

Photos and Video


When I went to get the Christmas boxes out of the attic in 2009, I noticed quite a few stink bugs. That was the beginning of the Asian stink bugs' reign. They filled the house in the spring. While we have some pretty native stink bugs here in Maryland, these guys are plain brown stinkers. They are brown-marmorated stink bugs from China. By September through October of 2010, they had exploded in numbers, and they wanted in the house. They covered the windows and eves in the thousands trying to find a hole in to the house. They found the chimney, and congregated in the fireplace. They squeezed between the brass door jams and invaded the house. I vacuumed the flue out every day for a week, hundreds of stink bugs sucked up with each cleaning. They were all over the turtle's tank with its warm lights, and dead ones floated all in his tank. Tator, the turtle, did not want to eat them. I got used to the smell to some degree. They stink when harassed, squished, etc., even when you suck up dead ones in the vacuum.

I figured with their large dominance in the animal population around here, they deserved their own web page, at least to put up their photos and video below.

I went to a talk about stinkbugs on 8/18/11. Here are a few neat things I thought I would write down somewhere. [Note that some of this guy's predictions as of 2013 did NOT come true at all.] The stink created by the bugs is created by two aldehydes. One of those aldehydes is the same as what is found in cilantro. Hence, that is why stinkbugs smell like cilantro when they release their smell. A single female stinkbug can lay 250 eggs in her life. Stinkbugs eat over 500 species of plants. Unlike most bugs, they do not specialize in a group of plants. They eat fruit, vegetables, tree leaves, shrubs, perennials, and so on. They love butterfly bush (although I do not see too many on our butterfly bushes). They can even stab their probosis in the bark of a tree and suck food out of the tree. The entomologist giving the talk said that is the only insect he knows who can do that. Stinkbugs have and will do enormous damage to all food crops including tomatoes, peppers, corn, soybeans, apples, pears, and basically everything. Once they hit the cotton fields of the south, cotton growers and people who wear cotton clothes will be up in arms. The following trees are shown to less likely to be eaten by stinkbugs - elm, hawthorne, maple, oak, sweetgum, and sycamore. Pesticides are pretty futile because the stinkbugs have a good carapace which means only the most highly toxic poisons kill them. There is no point in poisoning humans and other animals in the process. In the fall, stinkbugs seek cracks in which to hide. They are not going towards warmth at light at this point. In their native China, they hibernate in the cliffs. Our homes resemble cliffs to them. Once in the house, since it is not cold enough for hibernation, they will start flying around, heading towards both light and heat, and even feeding off of house plants. For the most part though, they just want to wait until spring. They will not breed in your house. There are three species of parasitic wasps from China that feed on stinkbug eggs. They are being examined to see if they are safe for release. Release is not expected until at least 2014! Some native insects have taken to eating stinkbugs including wheel bugs, spiders, and preying mantises. A photo of a spider eating one of our stinkbugs is below. The entomologist says the brown-marmorated stinkbug will be the worst insect pest that the United States has ever known. It will end up in every state within a few years.

I put out a commercial stinkbug trap on the front porch on 8/29/11. After a few days, it caught zero stinkbugs when there are dozens within visual range. I do not think that sort of trap is useful. I plan to make my own indoor trap using a light to attract them in to water where they will drown. If it works, I will post photos later.

Update 2013: In the fall of 2012, it rained a lot and drowned out a lot of the stinkbugs. While I always still see stinkbugs around, by 2013, they are not in plague proportions anymore. If you searched around the house, you might find a few but not many. It seems that the dire predictions from the "expert" above never came true. I think there are a few reasons. First, weather such as that raining fall last year knocked their population back. Second, a lot of animals have learned to eat the stinkbugs. While I have not seen birds eat them, they probably are. I have seen many caught in spider webs. Predatory insects have learned to eat them. It is called adaptation.

So, after four years with stinkbugs, what have I learned about how to deal with them?

Photos and Video

I took this photo on 5/15/10 of a terrestrial spider that spent at least three hours trying to inject venom in to an Asian stink bug. The stink bug seemed unaffected. They were both about 3/4 of an inch long. It is like Clash of the Titans!
Spider trying to eat an Asian stink bug - same photo as at the top of the page

These photos and video are from 9/25/10 in the garage.
Stink bugs - on the inside garage window
Stink bugs - on the inside garage window
Close-up of two stink bugs - sorry out of focus
Stink Bugs - 3133 KB, mpg movie.

Stink bugs on 10/9/10 - how we collected them; in five minutes during the height of the invasion, we could get 20 or 30 of them in a bucket of water so they could not get away. Then, we flushed them down the toilet. I do not treat other animals this way; they would be released outside. These guys are in a class of their own.


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