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Friday
Apr152011

Stink Bugs Invade Homes, Called a Menace to Agriculture 

Hermera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's spring and that means the stink bugs are back, invading homes with their peculiar odor.

Stink bugs are invasive insects from Asia that first were spotted in Pennsylvania in the mid 1990s. Entomologists say the brown marmorated stink bug is now in 33 states. And this year they expect them to turn up in other places.

Mike Raupp, an entomologist from the University of Maryland, told ABC's Good Morning America that, while stink bugs don't hurt people, they do suck -- suck the juice out of plants, that is. Researchers say stink bugs are the most menacing agricultural pests in 40 years.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a fearsome agricultural menace and a disgusting home nuisance. The shield-shaped insects suck the juice out of fruits, vegetables and house plants and congregate on window sills in alarming numbers.

If you have stink bugs in your home, unfortunately, insect experts do not have a "magic bullet" that will solve your problem. Entomologists are working to come up with creative solutions. A couple of possibilities: They may be able to engineer a form of stink bug "birth control." There also has been talk of introducing predators, like hornets that will consume stink bugs.

However, none of those efforts is well-developed yet, so here are some intermediate steps you can take to try to control the stink bugs in your home:

* Vacuum up stink bugs. They will release their scent when you do this, so you should empty your vacuum bag often. They also can live for a few days in your vacuum canister, so you may want to tape the hose end shut so they don't crawl back out.

* Caulk cracks. Stink bugs can flatten themselves down to a very narrow profile in order to wiggle through the smallest household cracks and get inside your home. Caulking all cracks helps and is good for energy savings, as well.

* Use window screening. You can cover ridge vents and other necessary openings in your home with window screening so there is still air circulation, but so that stink bugs cannot get in. Consult a knowledgeable contractor to make sure the screening won't cause any harm.

* Treat your attic. Stink bugs like attics. Some pest control contractors are experimenting with setting off pesticide "bombs" in these uninhabited spaces, but you should know that studies have shown stink bugs have the bizarre ability to appear dead from pesticides and then come back to life a few days later.

* Use insecticidal soap. Making your vegetable garden and house plants unpalatable to stink bugs may help. Insecticidal soap sprays are available at nurseries and less toxic than full-fledged pesticides.

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ABC News Radio