Stink bug alert

Mills River, NC September 21, 2011 – Western North Carolina is beginning to feel the effects of a new insect pest: the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. The bug was accidentally introduced from Asia and was first spotted in Pennsylvania in 2001. Since then, the bugs have been slowly increasing their range outward from Pennsylvania and are beginning to make their first forays into North Carolina. Researchers at North Carolina State University are concerned about the stink bug’s arrival because it could potentially have huge impacts on the state’s agricultural crops. In states where the insect has become established, such as northern Virginia, eastern West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and south central Pennsylvania, some farmers in 2010 lost more than half of their crops. Apples, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, berries and soybeans are all vulnerable. “These are all important crops in western NC, so the economic impact could be huge,” said Jim Walgenbach, a researcher at N.C. State University’s Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center, in Mills River.

Unlike the several stink bug species that are native to our area, which are kept mostly in check by natural predators and parasites, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has no natural enemies here. It also prefers to spend the winter indoors, where it causes no harm to people or houses but can be a serious nuisance. “These insects look like our native stink bugs in that they are shaped kind of like a shield,” said Ginger Kowal, a technician working with Walgenbach on the project. “But they can be identified by white patches on their antennae and legs, and they have that unique habit of massing inside of houses and buildings.”

Walgenbach and his colleague Mark Abney, also of NCSU, are working on developing ways to hinder the spread of the insect, and will soon begin testing chemical sprays in the lab. They are also tracking the distribution and spread of the stink bug as it expands its range in North Carolina. So far, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has been found in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Haywood counties in Western North Carolina and several counties in the piedmont. They seem to exist mostly in isolated population patches centered around urban areas. Walgenbach explains that he expects the stink bugs to continue their spread outward from those centers: “This distribution pattern is consistent with the early stages of infestation by an invasive insect,” he says. “Populations are likely to expand more quickly here than farther north, because of our warmer climate.”

At this time of year, the stink bugs are starting to make their way inside buildings and homes where they hope to spend the winter. Walgenbach and his colleagues have set up a website where anyone can go to see a map of confirmed sightings and report a sighting of the insect ( Gardeners and homeowners who believe they have seen Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs on their property are strongly encouraged to report their findings.  “This information from people out in the counties can really help us monitor the spread of the insect, and also target our research during next season,” said Walgenbach.

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24 thoughts on “Stink bug alert

  1. Steve Shanafelt

    Interesting. I found one of these in my kitchen this morning. Little did I know he was a Northern invader.

    • bebe

      ‘damn’ yankee bugs they seem to like it better here and don’t want to go back up north. my daughter has them invading her house in sneads ferry nc

  2. Jake

    Uh oh. I snagged one of these critters just inside my doorway an hour ago.

  3. Anne Fitten Glenn

    Yup, found one on my bathroom floor a couple hours ago. They must be amassing in North Central Asheville!

  4. fliss

    I’ve had hundreds living in my house for three years. Didn’t know they were new to the area; they pretty much predated me in this house.

  5. gail

    There are hundreds in and around my mothers house in the Asheville area. They are UGLY and seem to like to be drawn to lightblubs. Just when you think you have gotten rid of them, they are back again.

  6. WitchDoctor

    I’ve seen several in Woodfin today, and a couple in West Asheville. Never noticed them ever, before today.

  7. Jeff

    These things have DESTROYED my garden. Also there was that forgetting to water and weed it part. But still. These bugs are all over place!

  8. kmcmoobud

    To the folks at the research station: If you need need research subjects, you are more than welcome to come over to my house for abundant species collection opportunities. I removed 14 of the little buggers from my ceiling (via vacuum cleaner) in one night.

  9. Zanna360

    My invasion began last year and is far worse this year. I’ve sealed the house as best I could and I’m not seeing the numbers inside that I did last year, but outside they’re literally streaming over my house looking for crevices to crawl into. I found around 40 jammed into the tops of the blinds around my front porch alone. Also I use ultraviolet light in my work and they are VERY attracted to blacklights- it drives them bananas and when I use the lights I can see them hanging onto my window screens by the dozen. I hear that peppermint oil kills and repels them and I’m going to look into mixing up an herbal stink bug killing spray.

  10. sharpleycladd

    They are all there is to North Asheville if you take away the asphalt and rich white people.

  11. John Barry

    The brown marmorated stink bug has been moving down the coast, and NC is the next big target. I started a web community dedicated to sharing information about keeping stink bugs out of your home: . Good luck this year, everyone.

    -John Barry

  12. Miss Celaneous

    They have invaded Kenelworth! My neighbor has killed approximately 35 a day on her front porch. Today I killed 15 in five minutes on my deck. I am trying out a stink bug trap as we speak. I’ll post the result in a day or so.

  13. Elaine Nelson

    I live on the French Broad in West Asheville. This is my second year with these critters and it is MUCH worse than last summer. I’ve noticed that the infestation seems to be worse closer to waterways.

  14. FishBugg

    The stink bugs have infested my neck of West Asheville over the last two years. I have killed probably 100 over the last few weeks and they are all over the outside of my windows trying to get in. I keep a small plastic yogurt container with soapy water in and use a small stick to push them in. The soap coats their wings and they die. Be careful not to squish them as their smell will attract
    more from what I read online.

    The worse part…leaving work yesterday I went out to my car and one was inside my window…I couldn’t believe it…they are EVERWHERE!

  15. A Saunders

    They’re all over our house in West Asheville. I’ve been noticing them for the (almost) year I’ve been living here. Gross. Since they’re such stinky lil’ buggers, how do we go about getting rid off them?

  16. computerlady

    There were lots of these in my garden this year. I didn’t know they were eating my plants though!

  17. knopfler360

    We have these in our house pretty much daily. We even bombed the house and it did not help. The bugs are getting immune to the pesticides so we just catch them in a jar and release them outside. We live in West AVL and was wondering if anyone else has the same trouble.

  18. EmmaLee

    Why in the name would you release them? Kill them. Drown in soapy water and dump them away from your house. The stink attracts more.

  19. tammy

    I live in Flecter by the Dairy farm.Wow I have hundreds and cant get them out of my house.I all started 3 weeks ago.What a pain!!!!!

  20. R. Ray

    Live in the Foothills near Lenior. In the past couple of days, the number of Stink Bugs has really multiplied.
    There are so many, that it has become very noisy.

  21. Tracy in Winston Salem, NC

    Although I can’t confirm at this time if it was this particular stink bug, just yesterday when the mailman rang my doorbell I found over two dozen lurking between the storm door and the metal door, half dead. It freaked me and him out and I quickly got the broom and swept them back out on the front porch.

  22. Cly

    I have had an infestation of these things for the past three years. I had no Idea why. I just wanted rid of them. I realized this year they were attracted to the yellow colors I had all around the front of my deck. I changed the colors this year and installed a yellow Bug lights about 100 feet from my home at the edge of the Woods to see if they would migrate to the light. There were so many of them at the yellow bug light, that I had to put out a trap for them. I made the trap out of a 64 oz soda bottle. I just put a yellow funnel in the top of the bottle and taped it shut. They love fruit so just put some fruit juice in the bottle. Pour it into the funnel it helps attract them. Once a week the bottle gets almost full. Just pour warm soapy water in the funnel and they all drown quickly.

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