PHOTO: Ric Bessin, UK extension entomologist
As the temperature drops, many insects will search for shelter for the winter months—many times in private residences. This year, people may notice a new insect coming indoors.
This insect is the brown marmorated stink bug, and University of Kentucky entomologists already are receiving calls from homeowners concerning its appearance and offensive odor, said Ric Bessin, extension entomologist with the UK College of Agriculture.
The first report of the stink bug in Kentucky was in 2010, but it is now confirmed in 13 counties, mostly in the northeastern part of the state and the Louisville area. Six additional counties have reported complaints of stink bugs in homes this fall.
Once it gets in homes, the stink bug releases an odor that smells like cilantro as a defensive mechanism. Along the East Coast, where this stink bug is more established, it has been known to invade homes by the tens of thousands.
In addition to being a home invader, the stink bug is a major pest of fruit and vegetables and will feed on corn and soybeans during the growing season.
The best thing homeowners can do to prevent stink bug problems is to pest proof their residences, Bessin said. This includes sealing off openings into the structure such as where wires and pipes enter the building from the outside and any cracks or tears in window or door screens. Homeowners may also want to spray an insecticide around the perimeter of their home. Those wanting more information can refer to UK Entomology’s ENTFACT 641, which can be found online at http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/entfactpdf/ef641.pdf.
If stink bugs are found in a residence, homeowners should vacuum them rather than sweep or crush them. Sweeping or crushing may cause them to emit the odor or leave a stain, Bessin said.
Ric Bessin, 859-257-7456