By Jennifer Brumfield, Training and Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
Every season has its benefits and challenges, and fall is no different. It’s the time when nature is perhaps at its most colorful, as trees turn to beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange while the weather finds that mild medium that makes bonfires and tailgating a pleasure. But with all of the sights and sounds that make fall so great, one pest goes out of its way to make a stink. Yes, we’re talking about stink bugs, and if you’ve stuck around through that barely bearable pun, you’ll learn quite a bit about how to identify them, their habits, where they can be found, and how to help prevent them.
First and foremost, it’s helpful to know what stink bugs look like. Stink bugs have the following distinguishing features:
As the seasons turn and the temperature starts to drop, stink bugs start to search for a warmer place to live. Mid- to late September and early October mark the time when stink bugs typically begin seeking indoor shelter. These pests land on the outside of buildings and begin to search for entryways. They can often be found perched on the south and west sides of building exteriors, as this is where the sun hits and provides the warmth they desire.
Stink bugs are incredibly persistent, and will search for safety within your walls where they are tough to find. Once they feel safe enough, they emit a chemical aggregation to alert other nearby stink bugs in the area, which is why you often see them congregating in large numbers. In general, stink bugs remain largely inactive once they have entered a building for the winter. It’s when they reemerge in the spring and try to get back outside that they usually become a nuisance. This takes place around mid-April to mid-June.
Aside from the nuisance of having stink bugs crawling and flying around, these pests don’t pose a direct threat to humans or structures, but don’t forget that they can, well, stink. Stink bugs emit an unpleasant odor when they sense danger or are crushed. If they do release their signature smell, it can be so pungent it may take hours to dissipate. With that said, it’s best to avoid crushing them.
If stink bugs are a fall pest, why are we talking about them now? Because it’s important to pest-proof your property before stink bugs start looking for a way to get inside. Now is the time to help shield your home or building from this smelly pest.
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent a stink bug invasion. Stink bugs can find entry points through a number of different avenues, including small cracks and crevices around air conditioning units, chimneys, attic vents, door and window frames, and gaps or holes in the foundation, so exclusion is a key component of prevention.
Here are some specific measures you can take to help keep stink bugs away:
The tactics mentioned above should be maintained throughout the year as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. An IPM program focuses on prevention methods like exclusion and sanitation to help keep pests out, utilizing chemicals only as a last resort. If you don’t already have a program in place, work with a pest management professional to implement one.
Removing an infestation can be a lot more difficult than preventing one, so it’s best to stay one step ahead of potential pest problems. Working with a pest management professional to create a proactive, tailor-made plan for your home or building will have numerous benefits. It can give you peace of mind to know that pests have a tough time infiltrating your space, especially when those pests are notoriously smelly.
Jennifer Brumfield is a Training and Technical Specialist and Board Certified Entomologist for Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.