The weather may be different all over the world but everyone recognizes stink bug season the same way.
Stink bugs, most commonly known as those triangular-shaped, brown-gray prehistoric pests that feed on crops all spring and summer and invade homes in the fall, have their own worldwide season.
How long does stink bug season last? The 2021-22 Stink Bug season runs from Sept. 1 through April 30, 2022.
Who would have thought this bug, known for its foul odor when you crush them, would have a season?
Read on for more information on these bugs, their look-alikes, and how to rid them from your home.
Who Sets Stink Bug Season?
The official stink bug calendar is set each year by the vessel and cargo industry. Cargo ships have a vested interest in stink bug season because many of the critters’ hitch rides in the cargo hold to various locations during the winter.
The bugs go dormant, or diapause, during winter months while traveling. They wake up in the spring to mate to a new land, crops, and breeding.
The ships also provide something else the bugs could need in food. Even though the bugs hibernate during fall and winter, they could feed well in the cargo holds until they doze off.
Australian cargo companies are among those issuing strict orders for shipping moving once stink bug season starts. They have a list of risky countries that may have stink bugs stowaway and targeted products that would attract them.
The United States is on the list of risky countries as stink bugs that were first discovered in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998 have since migrated and bred in more than 20 states in the Northeast, South, and on the West Coast.
High-risk goods include wood, carpets, textiles, stone, ceramic products, glass, iron and steel, copper, nickel, aluminum, lead, zinc, tin, tools, cutlery, machinery, and vehicles.
Vessel management requires extra cleaning and precautions for cargo ships leaving during stink bug season. This means more inspections too.
It’s an important aspect for cargo companies because they could lose money if products, like fruits, arrive in port with brown spots from stink bugs on them. That makes the product unmarketable.
Stink bugs could cause a global product shortage if left unchecked and completely unmonitored by vessel workers and truckers.
Why Is Stink Bug Season in the Fall and Winter?
While other bug seasons are noted because it’s a high time of breeding, stink bug season is recognized when the bugs start invading homes, buildings, and cargo ships to find shelter for winter.
Stink bugs are a real problem for residents in high-prone areas. The bugs come in through open windows, cracks, and crevices to invade a home and the numbers can be astounding.
They begin their invasion as the weather turns to autumn.
Even though the bugs’ cycles are related to weather, it doesn’t seem to make a difference whether it’s the north, south, east, or west. Generally, everyone starts having issues with stink bugs in their homes in September.
The positive side of things is that stink bugs don’t destroy homes as other pests, like termites, do. They don’t sting or bite and generally will sleep all winter until it’s time to mate.
What Does Weather Have to Do With It?
Weather does play a role in the number of stink bugs arriving during sting bug season. No one is trying to correlate their numbers to climate change, and there isn’t any evidence of a connection.
However, a warmer, muggier summer will mean there will be more of the creatures showing up at your house in the fall.
That’s because stink bugs love heat and water and will see the weather as high breeding time. A long summer of mugginess means more breeding.
Sting bugs are prolific breeders with females laying as many as 500 eggs over their short six to eight-month life span.
Stink Bug Facts
These bugs are different from other types of insects in their lifespan, their hibernation, and their habitat.
Stink bugs are typically found in tall weeds or living in foliage during the spring and summer months. Most people don’t notice them because they tend to keep to themselves and aren’t aggressive like bees or even locusts.
They do two things in warm weather. They eat and they breed. The eggs can be found on the underside of dark, green leaves of plants.
They will also pick spots near moisture, like a muddy spot near the home, a creek bed, or a pond, preferably near fruit like berries or trees, to set up colonies.
Young bugs cluster together while they are small, but adults are solo flyers and separate to different directions when they are grown.
They eat many things from flowers and leaves, crops, and even other insects like caterpillars.
The bugs will eat all summer to store up nutrients for their winter hibernation. They eat little to nothing in the winter, so they typically will not try to get into your food supply as long as it is put away.
Their hibernation, or diapause, allows them to go into a trance-like state where they are sleeping but are vaguely aware of their surroundings. They do not move at all and appear dead.
The bugs find it vitally important to their survival to find a place hidden to sleep, so they will go into hidden corners, closets, furniture, and even under floors and carpet to hibernate.
Is It a Stink Bug?
Some see similar bugs and wonder if it’s a stink bug. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is what people recognize, but there are several varieties and these bugs come in different colors including red and black.
Those in the Deep South have added confusion because there are also potato bugs and kudzu bugs, and people will interchange those names with stink bugs. However, they are all different types of bugs.
The kudzu bug is in the same species as a stink bug and both are known as “true bugs.” They look similar but are actually enemies. The connection between the three bugs has developed as a bit of lore in the South.
The story goes that Georgia agriculture officials went to Pennsylvania to get stink bugs to eat the potato bugs in an attempt to control the potato bug population. That didn’t work and now they had two invasive species destroying crops.
So, as many believe but without any documentation, Georgia Agriculture officials then went to Asia to bring back the kudzu bug, named after the wild vine that grows all over the South.
This bug was supposed to eat the stink bug. However, it didn’t like the taste of stink bugs so now the state has three invasive species.
The stink bug alone feeds on more than 300 types of crops including fruits and vegetables.
The one sure truth to the story is that the kudzu bug arrived in luggage at the Atlanta airport in 2009.
Another truth is that officials do try to introduce predatory species in attempts to naturally control a bug or animal population. Officials are now looking at bringing in a South American wasp to control stink bugs.
What Can You Do?
Stink bugs are an invasive problem but can be controlled if you stay on top of it daily. Be sure to look in hidden spots like vents and under furniture.
They love to hide to sleep the winter away. Here are some other tips to keep them out of your home over the fall and winter.
- Seal up crevices or small openings around windows, doors, and other areas where they could crawl in.
- Caulk your windows. Prevention is worth the trouble.
- Replace screens on doors and windows that have holes or areas that are broken on them.
- Get some food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it inside and outside your home in areas around windows and doors where the bugs are likely entering. This is a product that is harmless to people and pets but acts as a natural barrier to insects.
- Did you know that stink bugs hate garlic? Putting some crushed cloves in a dish on a windowsill will repel them. Sure, it stinks but not as bad as stink bugs!
Get Out the Vacuum
One appliance will save your home from stink bugs or any of the other bug varieties that try to seek shelter this fall: your vacuum.
Bug experts suggest that vacuuming daily is one sure way to keep the stink bug population low in your home.
Another solution is to capture them and put them in a jar of blue Dawn to kill them.
The thing you shouldn’t do is smack them to kill them. These bugs let out a foul order that is hard to escape from and that also calls other stink bugs to their location.
Stink bugs are an annoying nuisance that no one has found a good way to control. So be prepared to spend stink bug season cleaning up the bugs sneaking into your home.
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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