Despite rumors that the Polar Vortex chill early this year eliminated the stink bugs, I’m here to tell you that, in Buncombe County at least, that is not true! After spending the summer feeding on a variety of plants in our landscape including butterfly bush (Buddleia), pawlonia, hibiscus, zinnia, and sunflower, plus a few fruit trees (ornamental or otherwise) the Asian Stink Bug is shifting its priorities and seeking a cozy site to sit out the winter. And our houses can fill that bill nicely if we let ‘em in.
Adults are a little larger than ½ inch. The overall coloring varies from brown to gray. The distinguishing markings are those black and white bands along the outer edges of the thorax.
Although there are other stink bugs, these are the only ones that aggregate on or in houses in large numbers. And they do stink. Squish them with your fingers and an unpleasant odor will be with you for a while.
If you go on-line searching for “stink bug control” you’ll find quite a few offerings of killers and repellants, using lights, and buckets of soapy water into which to toss them after hand-picking. Some may work to some extent but, and this will sound familiar to folks who have been hosting the annual invasions of oriental ladybugs for the last two decades, the most effective way to keep stink bugs out of the house is to stop up, cover over, seal, caulk, or otherwise eliminate any aperture in your home’s outside surface. And you’ll probably reduce your heating bill too.
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.