Reports From Our Nationwide Survey About Stink Bugs, Part 1

| 1/29/2014 2:50:00 PM

In October 2013, MOTHER EARTH NEWS launched the Stink Bug Survey as a citizen science project to gather information about the spread and behavior of the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). A smelly invasive insect from northern Korea and Japan that was first seen in eastern Pennsylvania in 1998, the brown marmorated stink bug has now been identified in 35 states. These home and garden pests survive winter in houses, buildings and bark crevices in trees. When populations become high, they can devastate many vegetables, fruits and flowers.

Stink Bugs

Where Are the Stink Bugs Now?

The good news is that survey respondents in the far South, Southwest and far North of the United States are not seeing these distinctive stink bugs with light bands on their antennae in their houses or gardens. Hundreds of respondents from Georgia to Arizona reported that they have never seen brown marmorated stink bugs crawling on window screens, an extremely common sight in the mid-Atlantic states, where stink bug infestations are most severe.

Surprisingly, the area where the brown marmorated stink bugs were first observed, near Allentown, Pa., is not emerging as a current stink bug hot spot according to our survey. 

The highest numbers of people reporting that “stink bugs in my house are out of control and driving me nuts” came from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and several rural and suburban areas in the mid-Atlantic region. See “Stink Bug Hot Spots” below for lists of the most severely affected counties, by state.

As to how the stink bugs are moving from one place to another, our stink bug survey shows them following the interstate highway system, with long skips between metropolitan areas. Rather than moving steadily westward from tree to bush, our data (and typical marmorated stink bug behavior) suggest that these pests are professional hitchhikers. For example, it would be quite easy for several hundred stink bugs to fly into a truck being loaded in Pittsburgh on a mild October day, and then disperse in Columbus, Ohio, the next day, when the truck warmed up from being parked in the sun. Next thing you know, they are in Ohio kitchens. The I-70 Corridor across Pennsylvania into Ohio is a clear route by which the stink bugs may have spread. A second southwestward trail down I-81 likely scattered the stink bugs down the Blue Ridge to their current southernmost outpost in Chattanooga, Tenn., home to numerous well-equipped truck stops.

Echo Moon
2/14/2014 7:28:25 AM

i noticed that i have 2 dead ones in my kitchen light globe. need to have my son climb up today and get the nasty things out! and last year while staying in pigeon forge tn i swear i was about buried in the blasted things!!!

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