As the season changes, pests seek shelter for the coming winter, and the brown marmorated stink bug is no exception.
The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive pest that feeds on many crops and ornamental plants during the growing season and then continues its pest status as it invades homes to overwinter, said Karen Vail, University of Tennessee Extension urban entomologist.
“Mechanical exclusion is the most effective approach to provide long-term control. Think of all the places that stink bugs can enter the home and then deny them entry,” Vail said. “Seal cracks around door frames, windows, utility penetrations, siding and wood fascia and other openings with appropriate materials such as quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk.” Vail adds that homeowners may need to add or reinforce weather stripping around doors and windows to provide tighter seals or add door sweeps if light can be seen under a door.
The entomologist also recommends repairing screens on doors and windows and installing screens behind crawl spaces and soffit and attic vents. “Use chimney caps or screens when appropriate and remove window unit air conditioners, if possible, as this is a common entry point,” Vail said.
The brown marmorated stink bug is shaped like a shield, mottled brown and gray and has characteristic white bands on the fourth antennal segment as well as alternating dark and light bands on the sides of the abdomen.
Vail said the bugs can be removed with a vacuum cleaner, but she cautions that you should be prepared for an unpleasant odor if large numbers are vacuumed at once. “Another removal option takes advantage of the bug’s dropping behavior,” she said. “A straight-sided, one-half - to 1-gallon plastic container with an end cut off can be placed under the bugs and the bugs brushed into the container using a piece of cardboard or a broom. This container can also be dragged up a vertical surface, such as a wall, window or drape, where the bugs have aggregated so they will drop into the container,” she said. After capture, the bugs can be put in a sealable storage bag and discarded or drowned in soapy water.
Vail recommends against indoor application of insecticides for several reasons. “Bugs that die may provide food for other pests such as carpet beetles, which in turn could damage woolen clothing and dried, stored products. Foggers may kill bugs that are present at the time, but won’t provide much control after the room is aerated. Misapplied foggers have resulted in fire or explosions,” she said. Vail also noted that sprays directed into cracks and crevices will still allow bugs to emerge. She recommended sealing cracks and crevices instead.
If exclusion methods aren’t working completely, Vail recommended professionally applied outdoor treatments of indoxacarb, dinotefuran, pyrethroids or pyrethroids combined with neonicotinoids around windows, doors and other entry points as is done for other occasional invaders. “In general, pyrethroids are faster acting than other chemistries; however, new pesticide labels limit professionally applied pyrethroids to 1-inch bands around windows and doors when the surface is over a hardscape,” she said. Vail adds that it is best to spray perimeters in the fall before the bugs start aggregating on structures.
Insecticides will have limited persistence outdoors in the sunlight and rain and may have limited effectiveness against preventing the brown marmorated stink bug from entering structures.
UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issue at the local, state and national levels.
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