The uncommonly mild winter has made the stink bug, a winged insect from Asia, rear its flat, ugly head in homes across Western New York. During the winter, the half-inch long creatures camp out and retreat from the cold in crevices and other small openings in homes, only to emerge once the weather warms up.
And according to Cornell Cooperative Consumer horticulture educator, Karen Klingenberger, it’s going to be a prolific year for stinkbugs.
“They actually came in the fall,” Klingenberger said in an interview with Democrat and Chronicle. “They are waking up and trying to find a way out.”
While certainly not pleasant to have in the home, stinkbugs are less of a problem than any other pest invasion, such as termites, fleas, or bedbugs.
The brown, marmorated creatures can easily be classified as “creepy crawlies” for the faint of heart. But resist the urge to squash them, lest you want to discover why they’re called stink bugs in the first place.
According to Chris Hahn, vice president of the Rochester-based exterminator company Bugman, the sighting of one means that there are likely more to be found.
Typically, these insects are found in older homes and are attracted to sunny, light-colored homes.
“If they can’t go outside, they are going to work their way into the interior of your home,” Hahn said.
Hahn also notes that the best way to combat stink bugs is by making sure they aren’t able to infiltrate your home in the first place. One of the best ways to do so is to insulate or weatherize your home. You can do this by either sealing openings of windows and door jams with caulk.
If your windows are especially outdated, it might be time to replace your windows. Not only will it keep unwanted pests like stink bugs out, but replacement windows can yield a 78% return of investment for homeowners.
Thankfully, they don’t pose any danger to humans, and although they’re hazardous to crops, they shouldn’t wreak any havoc — beyond reeking — indoors.
“If a pet eats a stinkbug, they’ll probably spit it out after the first bite,” said Walter Nelson of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County. Instead, what the bugs really want is a warm window where they can sun themselves.
The bugs aren’t unique to New York State, either. Native to Japan, China, and Korea, the species first appeared here in 2010 and has been found in 42 states as of last year, up from 39 in 2013.