Ah, the good old stink bug – or to be more technical, the brown marmorated stink bug. In recent years, this pesky insect has become quite the nuisance in the United States. They are not native to the U.S. and were introduced from Asia back in the late 1990s. Not a friend to landscapes, they feast on a wide variety of fruits, seeds and berries produced by trees and ornamental plants. In Pennsylvania, reported losses of 25 percent in apples and stone fruits were attributed to stink bugs in 2010.
Much of the United States saw some periods of extreme cold this past winter due to that now-very-familiar polar vortex. In February of 2014, Virginia Tech researchers did studies to test stink bugs’ resilience in extreme cold temperatures (hovering around zero degrees for several days) and found that about 95 percent of them were exterminated. However, the United States Department of Agriculture visited outdoor sites in Maryland where stink bugs spend the winter and found only about a 50 percent mortality rate. In the fall months, stink bugs become very active and begin to make their way into structures through gaps in windows, doors, vents, chimneys and eves to survive the winter. Activity can peak again in the months of April, May and June when they start to head outside in warmer months to feed on fruits.
Are you noticing more or fewer stink bugs than previous years? Be sure to join the Eyes on Central PA Mission on Project Noah to share your photo observations of stink bugs or other wild insects. Your photo may be featured on this blog or in Chief Meteorologist Joe Murgo’s next on-air broadcast!