Scientists research solution to stink bug infestations

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– The brown marmorated stink bug originated in Asia but migrated to the United States in the 1990s. Now, they’re found all around the nation and they’re growing uncontrollably.

“They will lay their eggs on the underneath side of leaves, about twenty to thirty, and they look like little pieces of rice. Then when they hatch, they go through five molting stages in the course of one year, get to three quarters of an inch, and then they start looking for warm places to hibernate during the winter time,” said garden expert Charlie Stocker.

“Naturally they’re hanging out in corn fields and soybean fields and as those get harvested, they’ve found out that we have built a nice little structure for them to live in throughout the winter, so they start moving inside,” said Brian Ranes with Mahon Exterminating.

Ranes said the cooler it gets, the more likely you are to find the bugs in your homes. 

Usually an attic or a wall void or a chimney or something like that, where it’s very difficult to find them and eliminate them from those locations,” said Ranes.

But Ranes said even if you don’t see them, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. “These insects can actually be frozen to some point and then survive,” said Ranes.

It’s a process called diapause. The insect enters a motionless, dormant stage which blocks developmental growth in anticipation of a harsh seasonal change. There are several species of stink bugs native to the United States, but their predators won’t kill this particular pest. Therefore, scientists say we have to look overseas for the solution. 

“Trissolcus Japonicus. We’ve been studying this in the laboratory for some years to determine if specific enough to brown marmorated stink bug to introduce,” said Dr. Kim Hoelmer, USDA Research Entomologist

Hoelmer said the wasp should help reduce numbers, but stink bugs are here to stay. 

Samurai Wasp ( Trissolcus Japonicus )
Courtesy: E. Talamas, USDA

“It may take some time because it may take some years for the population to grow to the point where they occur everywhere the stink bugs occurs,” said Hoelmer. 

Other than a foul odor, experts say the stink bugs are relatively harmless. Some tips for keeping them out of your homes include: making sure your doors and windows are securely shut, keeping your lights off when they’re not in use and caulking any crevices.

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