Every year when the weather starts to turn chilly, we notice an uptick in the number of pests that try to come into our homes for the winter. Some of them can be a real nuisance, especially in the case of one particularly smelly uninvited guest—the brown marmorated stink bug. The main threat they pose when they do invade our space is to our sense of smell, but many people also find these insects icky to have around, especially considering they’ve been known to gather in huge groups in houses like a scene out of a horror movie. We've rounded up a few important facts to know about these creepy-crawlers, plus some helpful hints for keeping them at bay.
1. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are Invasive
Numerous stink bug species are native to the U.S., but brown marmorated stink bugs originated in East Asia. They made their way to the U.S. in the 1990s, and were first discovered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1998. Since their arrival, they’ve spread across the country at a rapid rate, and have been spotted in nearly every state. They don’t have many natural predators in North America, so their population has exploded in the 20 plus years since they arrived.
2. They Like to Gather in Groups
Unlike native stink bugs, this species seeks out protected structures like houses and garages to spend the winter, usually by the hundreds and even thousands. So if you start out dispatching a stray stink bug here and there, you may think the problem is solved, but it's likely just beginning. Once one of these insects has found a warm, cozy, spot to wait out the winter, it can release pheromones that attract others to join it (don't worry, you won't be able to smell that). Stink bugs also enjoy close contact with one other and other objects, which is why they don’t mind piling on top of each other in a small space, and why you’ll sometimes find them in snug spots like the folds of your curtains or tucked behind a hanging photo.