Know your stinkbugs

Oct 22, 2009, 16:20 PM by User Not Found

Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009
By: Tony Di Domizio

To have these pests in your home really stinks.

The prehistoric-looking, shield-shaped brown marmorated stinkbug resembles something of an alien - but its presence in homes in the area is anything but uncommon.

The insect first appeared in Allentown in 1998, even though it is an insect native to east Asia.

They are not harmful - loud and excellent flyers, but not harmful - and they don't carry diseases.

And when you squash them, it's then you realize why their name is so apropos.

"They get their name from their scent glands. If they are threatened or crushed, they will give off that wonderful odor," said Rebecca Boylan, consumer horticulturist for the Penn State Cooperative Extension of Montgomery County. "You don't want to crush them, obviously. When you catch them, gather them in your hand and flush them in the toilet or throw them back outside."

Boylan said stinkbugs can be recognized by white bandings on the legs and tannish markings around the shield on the body.

They mostly feed on apples, peaches, figs, citrus fruits, as well as asparagus, raspberries and string beans.

Their lifespan is one year, but adult stinkbugs lay 20 to 30 eggs on the underside of leaves in the spring.

This is the time for stinkbug season. It's nothing unusual, Boylan said, to have them in the home.

"It's getting colder and they are looking for places to hibernate," she said. "On a warm day, in the spring, they will congregate on the sunny side of houses and buildings to gather heat. Once they get into your house, they will go along the cracks and crevices around windows and doors or where pipes enter a building and that's how they get in."

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