You’ve no doubt seen them. You probably noticed them once or twice a few years ago and didn’t give them much thought. At the time, they just seemed to pass by unnoticed, like any other unusual bug. You don’t want to know them. And you certainly don’t ever want to know them. Nor do you care. But if you have been noticing them a lot more recently, then you are not imagining things. These little critters are seemingly everywhere now. And try as we might, we just can’t seem to ever shake them.
What Are Stink Bugs?
What on earth (or are they really even from earth!?) are stink bugs? Where did they come from? How did they get here? Why did they get here? Why has no one ever heard of these little critters before? In a nutshell, the scientific name for this category and classification of insects is halyomorpha halys. And if you think that these bugs are out of place and don’t look like they belong here in North America, then you are right. That is because they don’t belong here.
Where Did They Come From?
In fact, stink bugs are native insects from the Asian subcontinent. These “illegal immigrants” are native to Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea, where they are a common pest. If you live in one of these Asian countries, then they are a common, every day nuisance, posing as a threat particularly to the indigenous agricultural industries of that region. Up until recent times, they had remained confined to the Asian subcontinent. It was only recently that they accidentally made their way to the North American continent. And once they got here, they began to multiply in numbers very rapidly. Stink Bugs were first discovered in Pennsylvania. And then gradually, over the course of time, reports of these bugs began emerging in the adjacent states. Year after year, the number of states reporting infestations is increasing as the population of these little buggers continues to spread out in all directions. After years of sitting back and watching helplessly as they began to infiltrate our homes and our crops here in North America, government agencies commissioned to study pest control are just now beginning to get a grasp on understanding these bugs.
How Did They Get Here?
While nobody can pinpoint exactly when or how stink bugs first infiltrated the western hemisphere, the most prevalent theory is that they may have accidentally come over in one of the millions of boxed crates that gets shipped into North American harbors, carrying imports from Asia. While there are indeed very strict standards to inspect shipments that are brought into our borders, it is highly probable that a cluster of stink bugs must have some how inadvertently slipped through the cracks (literally) during the freight inspection process and become stowaways on their journey overseas (the old “hide in the baggage compartment trick”).
Characteristic Traits of Stink Bugs
Bearing a resemblance to the dinosaurs from Jurrasic Park, stink bugs have a uniquely reptilian appearance, which makes them unsightly and frightening to most entomophobists. But apart from their appearance, they are actually harmless to humans. They don’t bite. They don’t suck your blood. But the one distinguishing characteristic that makes stink bugs unique is their patented defense mechanism: the foul stench that they emanate from their bodies when they become frightened. This odor is unmistakably rank enough to drive away just about any predator, including human beings! If you have ever tried to squash a stink bug, then you know from first hand experience what it smells like. (Some people liken the smell of their odor to that of cilantro. I used to love the smell of cilantro until I came into contact with my first stink bug. Now I tend to lose my appetite when I smell either of the two!)
Their Impact On Domestic Human Life
So if stink bugs are purportedly harmless pest control richardson to human beings (apart from being the stuff that nightmares are made of, for those who can’t stand the sight of them), then what is there to be concerned about? Why all of the fuss? It seems that for the average every person, the issue with stink bugs is that they are just plain annoying and unsightly. Most people will not even bother to think twice, flinch, or even bat an eyelash when they come across an ant or a common housefly. But when it comes to these bugs, these little critters can wreak havoc on many a person’s psyche. What is worse is that stink bugs can often show up in clusters. And just knowing the fact that squashing them (the preferred method of dealing with most other types of insects) will yield in foul odors that can often leave permanent traces on the surface where said squashing occurred can render some of us humans to feel defenseless against them.
Stink Bugs Are Heat Seekers
More often than not, you will find stink bugs congregating on window screens during the autumn season. This is because as the weather begins to turn cooler during autumn, stink bugs instinctively search for warm places where they can escape from the cooler air. When they fly by your home and detect the heat emanating from within, they will quite naturally gravitate toward your windows, on the hopes that they might be able to try to get into your house. And guess what? If you have any rips or tears in your window screens, or if you have any cracks in your window sills, then those bugs who are determined to get into your house for the sake of the warmth, will find a way in. Perhaps this itself is one of the most frightening characteristics about them: how they somehow manage to infiltrate your home despite your best efforts to keep the house sealed off.
Stink Bugs Have Infiltrated Your Home – Now What?
And once stink bugs get into your home, they will either generally tend to gravitate toward sources of heat and light (if you have ever noticed, once stink bugs get into your home, they like to linger on your windows, because they want to bask in the sunlight). Fortunately, they are not known to reproduce indoors, so at least you need not have to worry about that. Perhaps one thing that can be extremely frightening and annoying about stink bugs is their characteristic “kamakaze” style manner of making an entrance into a room. They will “dive bomb” from their hiding places into the middle of the room, making a distinct buzzing sound, and land on whatever surface they are interested in.
While stink bugs may not have an impact on urban populations, they do pose a threat to agriculture, as they are known to destroy crops. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with scientists to develop standards for safe and effective pesticide solutions as a deterrent against them. However, further research and development is still needed and continues to be an ongoing effort.