Homeowners across the country have been fighting off an extremely unwelcome pest – the stink bug. The insect gets its name due to an offensive odor they emit when crushed or frightened. This makes dealing with an infestation extremely difficult and unpleasant for residents.
Stink bugs aren't just bothering homeowners in one part of the country – USA Today reported the pests have been spotted in 38 states so far. The area hit the hardest is the Mid-Atlantic region – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C. have experienced the most problems. The source reported that 59 percent of D.C. residents have already experienced an issue with the bugs this year.
The invasive insect has been spreading quickly, and the hot weather this summer didn't do homeowners any favors. USA Today referenced U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist Tracy Leskey who said the long, hot summer increased stink bug populations by allowing two separate generations to breed.
These pests are causing concern among the agricultural community. Homeowners with gardens, organic farmers and commercial growers have all seen stink bugs destroy their crops, and the insects aren't picky eaters – they'll snack on virtually any crop they can find. Even more frustrating for some is when they get indoors and begin to cause problems in a home.
Even though the pests aren't dangerous and don't spread disease, they're still frustrating to deal with. The strong scent they give off can be unbearable, especially if there's a large infestation in a residence. Unfortunately, the bugs are invading homes at a rapid pace. To escape the increasingly chilly weather, they're seeking shelter in houses across the country, where they hibernate and then emerge in the spring.
An infestation can be hard to get rid of, especially once the insects start hiding in walls and attics to hibernate. A few preventative measures can help homeowners keep the bugs at bay. Sealing all cracks around a home can prevent the pests from sneaking in, but they can slip through tiny crevices near doors and windows, which homeowners can easily miss when sealing up their homes.
For homeowners dealing with smaller numbers of the bugs, pest control professionals advise not crushing the pests, but instead vacuuming them and immediately getting rid of the bag. Those dealing with more severe infestations should contact professional exterminators to handle the situation to help ensure the infestation doesn't continue to spread.