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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Summary: Brown marmorated stink bug is a relatively new nuisance and agricultural pest in certain parts of the US. The bugs are harmless but may enter homes in the fall seeking shelter and then enter living spaces during fall-winter months. This behavior is very similar to the more familiar boxelder bugs.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Stink bug identification

Adult stink bugs are relatively large (~3/4") and usually described as "shield-shaped", broad at the top with sides that curve toward a pointed bottom. In fact another common name for these bugs is "shield bugs". The common name "stink bug" comes from their scent glands which can emit a foul odor. The brown marmorated stink bug is brown in color, has the typical stink bug shape and is easily identified by alternating dark and light stripes around the edge of the wings (see photo). Immature stink bugs (nymphs) look like a smaller version of the adults but without wings.

brown marmorated stink bug
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

A variety of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants are damaged by the feeding of adults and nymphs. Feeding on fruits causes damage that may make the fruit unusable for the fresh market.

In cool climates there's only one generation per year, eggs are laid in the spring, nymphs feed and develop during summer months. In fall as the weather turns cold adult stink bugs may seek shelter in homes, much like the more familiar boxelder bugs. In the spring they will leave these protected spaces and resume their life cycle outside. 

While inside a house the bugs cause no damage whatsoever except for some minor spotting on interior furnishings, and of course the odor if they are smashed. Despite this, any large insect flying around inside the house can be disturbing to some homeowners! Don't panic! Follow the suggestions below to keep them outside in the first place.


Stink bug control and prevention

Your first step should be to exclude as many bugs as possible. Screen attic vents, caulk windows and doors, and otherwise weather-seal the house. Once you have sealed every crack and screened every hole use the money you've just saved on utility bills to buy a garden sprayer and some wettable powder (WP) or microencapsulated insecticide, one that is approved for this use, of course.

If you still find stink bugs or boxelder bugs indoors even after your best efforts at exclusion then your only recourse is to treat the exterior of the house with insecticide when the bugs are congregating in the fall. Treat areas of the siding where these bugs land and repeat at intervals specified in the package instructions, or "label". Both wettable powder (WP) and microencapsulated insecticides like Onslaught (tm) will give you the residual activity that is needed. A variety of materials for stink bug control are available here (DoMyOwnPestControl.com), including traps that can be used indoors. Bugs found indoors should be simply swept up or trapped, insecticides are not needed nor will they be very effective for bugs inside the house.

Some people advocate treating the inside of walls where these bugs tend to congregate. However, doing so can cause a build-up of dead bugs which can lead to other pest problems down the line. It is better to treat these bugs before they enter the walls, not after.

See also: boxelder bugs, yellowjacket baits (for an Onslaught label), and common household pests


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Jack DeAngelis, PhD,  , email: [email protected]

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