Stink bugs are not directly harmful to humans or animals since they will not bite or sting. On the other hand, they present different types of danger to homeowners and farming businesses.
The brown marmorated stink bug, or simply “stink bug” as they are commonly known, has become a natural pest in many parts of the world.
If you’ve noticed the appearance of these little shield-shaped bugs, you’re probably wondering if they pose any threat to your, your pets, or your home.
Keep reading this short article for all the stink bug facts, stories, and personal accounts you need to discover whether you need to be concerned about finding stink bugs on your property.
- Why do Stink Bugs Come into Homes?
- Will Stink Bugs Harm Humans?
- Can Stink Bugs Destroy Property?
- A Couple’s Terrifying Encounter with Stink Bugs
- Stink Bugs and Agriculture
Why Do Stink Bugs Come Into People’s Homes?
The good news is that our homes and properties don’t provide the kind of environment stink bugs will thrive in over the long term, but that doesn’t make them any less of a nuisance when an infestation does take place.
In the warmer months, you might be able to spot the bugs around the sunniest sides of your home. If you see catch large numbers out there, you’ll be wise to take some measures to deter them before the fall and winter come around.
During the colder months, stink bugs seek structures to shelter themselves from the harsher conditions, and homes can be the perfect place for them.
You might not even notice their presence during the winter until it warms up and they re-emerge en masse to make their exit.
Signs of a Stink Bug Infestation
Stink bugs aren’t overly discrete about their presence most of the time, and you will probably find them hanging around your home on curtains, picture frames, and perching on window sills.
Other signs that the bugs have made their way into your property include the foul odor they are named for releasing, staining to your walls or curtains, and damaged fruits with brown staining inside.
Will Stink Bugs Harm Humans?
Even though there are species of stink bugs in parts of the world that will bite, the brown marmorated stink bug found in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe will not bite or sting.
The worst defense mechanism a stink bug will employ is praying a foul-smelling mixture of chemicals from their abdomen.
The bugs release their odor when they feel threatened so take care when vacuuming or sweeping them away.
The chemicals stink bugs release are not toxic and won’t cause serious harm to humans or animals.
In some instances, an allergic reaction to the compound could take place, so be aware of any adverse effects if you come into contact with it.
Are Stink Bugs Toxic to Pets?
Veterinarians agree that stink bugs and their chemical secretions will not do any serious or lasting harm to your pets.
If your pet eats a number of the bugs, they can have a severe reaction to them, so you might see drooling and vomiting, but they will be fine.
In most cases, cats and dogs will be fast to discover that eating stink bugs is not pleasant.
Can Stink Bugs Destroy Property?
Now that you know stink bugs pose little physical threat to yourself or your pets, you have probably turned your attention to other items inside your home.
After all, many pests do indeed leave a trail of destruction behind them once they take residence inside a property.
When it comes to stink bugs, they don’t actively seek to damage property by chewing or eating it like some insects might. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you won’t be left with a mess to clean up.
Because stink bugs secrete chemicals, the most common damage they’ll cause is staining. You will usually find yellow, brown stains over curtains, couches, and carpets.
The stains can be difficult to remove, and hydrogen peroxide solutions are often needed in combination with some good scrubbing.
One item in your home that stink bugs certainly can destroy is your fruit and veg. Brown marmorated stink bugs are known to eat over 100 varieties of plants.
Fortunately, stink bugs don’t tend to eat much during the winter, so this might only be a major problem if the bugs are roaming your gardens during the spring and summer.
One Couple’s Terrifying Stink Bug Encounter
A news report in the New Yorker magazine recounts the skin-crawling tale of how tens of thousands of stink bugs descended on the home of a couple in South Carolina.
During the initial days of Autumn several years ago, Paul Zimmerman was startled by a scream from his partner, Pam, who had headed upstairs to close a set of French doors she had left open the previous evening.
When Paul joined Pam upstairs, they were confronted with a room packed full of hundreds upon hundreds of stink bugs.
Pam described the scene as “something from a horror movie” as the bugs covered the couple’s walls and ceilings.
After an entire night of clearing bugs from every conceivable orifice in their bedroom, Pam and Paul were finally comfortable enough to go to sleep.
However, their stinkbug nightmare wasn’t over as they found numerous bugs in unwanted areas over the following days.
In fact, the article states they have never been entirely free of stink bugs ever since that evening.
As you can see from Pam and her partner’s experience, it does not take long for stink bugs to take hold inside a building.
In just one night, their home had become overrun with them and, even years later, the problem wasn’t fully rectified.
The very same New Yorker article also mentions an account from a wildlife biologist in Maryland who had a stink bug problem in his home. The biologist decided to count every single stink bug he killed in his house.
After six months, he decided to end his experiment with the count at a staggering 26,205 dead bugs! Yet another example of just how quickly an infestation can reach staggering proportions.
Stink Bugs and Agricultural Damage
Not only can stink bugs become a domestic pest and a horror story for homeowners, but they can also spell even bigger trouble for farmers and their crops.
As I’ve already discussed, the colder months are the time of year when you can expect stink bugs to wreak havoc on residential properties.
During the warmer months, the bugs become a completely different kind of pest to an entire industry.
Since they were first found in North America during the 1990s, brown marmorated stink bugs have become a severe threat to millions of acres of American and Canadian farmland.
Brown marmorated stink bugs will eat such a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including apples, corn, tomatoes, grapes, and so many more.
When the bugs eat fruits and vegetables, they do so by piercing the skin and sucking out the juice through a straw-like appendage.
Fruit that stink bugs have eaten is left blemished and sometimes rotten.
Even though eating such damaged fruit wouldn’t be harmful to humans, it isn’t the kind of fruit people want to purchase, so its’ resale value and use-cases reduce dramatically.
Often, damaged fruit ends up in juices, which means farmers are paid much less than they would be if the fruit had ended up on supermarket shelves in its natural form.
In some instances, whole bugs can find their way into products derived from fruits and contaminate them.
For example, wine contaminated by stink bugs that have infested a grape crop is unsellable because of the foul taste stink bugs cause.
Such an example can result in an entire crop being rendered totally useless and cost farmers their profits.
Stink Bugs Not Just a US Problem
Stink bugs have been involved in causing millions of dollars worth of damage to US crops, and other countries are very concerned about them potentially crossing their borders.
New reports have been coming out of the UK in 2021, where they are monitoring the rise of shrink bugs in the country. This article reports the bugs are “likely to get a permanent foothold in the UK in coming years.”
UK scientists are also urging members of the public to get in touch with them should they come across brown marmorated stink bugs in an attempt to more closely monitor their numbers and breeding activity in the country.
Elsewhere in Europe, Stink bugs have been a problem for Italian farmers since initial detection in 2012 but have become a significant problem during a time when the global pandemic is already putting a strain on many livelihoods.
The Italian government passed a law that approved the use of a predatory wasp, known as a “samurai wasp,” for combatting stink bug problems in Northern Italian fields.
In addition, over 10 million euros has gone towards protective measures like nets. Still, farming experts feel more needs to be done to compensate farmers that have already seen “significant losses” thanks to the bug.
Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:Are Stink Bugs Poisonous? – Well, It’s Complicated
What Are Stink Bugs Good For? 7 Things You Didn’t Know
Where Are Brown Stink Bugs From?
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