Stink Bugs: Record Numbers of Bugs Expected This Year in Parts of US

    Stink bugs in record numbers are expected in multiple parts of the United States. Here, a brown marmorated stink bug feeds on a red pepper plant in an Oregon State University lab in Corvallis. (Lynn Ketchum/Oregon State University)

    Stink bugs in record numbers are expected this year in multiple parts of the United States.

    A well-established and quickly growing population of the stink bugs was recently found in Sacramento, to the surprise of researchers. It’s the first reproducing population in California outside Los Angeles County.

    “This is one of the worst invasive pests we’ve ever had in California,” said Chuck Ingels, a University of California Cooperative Extension adviser, in the announcement.

    “These bugs aggregate in such numbers that there are reports of people using manure shovels and five-gallon buckets to dispose of them,” Ingels said. “The strong, unpleasant odor the insects emit when disturbed makes cleanup still more daunting.”

    The quickly rising stink bug population in Dayton, Ohio, has led one local exterminator to deem it the “bug of the year,” reported the Dayton Daily News.

    “Some years it’s wasps … Asian Lady Beetles were a problem for a couple years,” said Ken Packard of Bugs or Us Pest Control Inc. “This year it’s stink bugs.”

    In Oregon, record numbers of stink bugs could threaten many late-season crops, including blueberries, raspberries, and apples, according to Oregon State University

    Statewide surveys collected by university researchers show that the bug has higher population densities this year in nearly every region in the state, including urban counties.

    Even low levels of stinkbugs can result in crop losses, according to Vaughn Walton, an entomologist at the university. 

    Populations are increasing faster than thought and are peaking around this time.

    “Pre-harvest is a time when stink bugs are more likely infest crops and lay eggs because late-stage crops are an attractive food source,” said Nik Wiman, a research entomologist with the university. “The adults and nymphs cause blemishes when they feed on ripening fruit, nuts and vegetables, rendering them unmarketable.”

    The brown marmorated stink bug arrived in the eastern Unites States in the late ’90s and has since spread to more than 39 states.

    “Red zone” states with the highest concentrations of the bugs are Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

    The bugs have damaged over $21 billion in crops since their arrival.

    The research extension at the University of Maryland said in a September blog post that it has seen “exploding numbers” of the stink bugs at its research plots in central Maryland.

    Baby stink bugs and eggs.  (Maine Department of Agriculture)


    At the beginning of the year, the USDA predicted a record year because of a strong recovery by the bugs.

    “Stink bug populations have recovered and in larger numbers,” said Tracy Leskey, an entomologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. “We’re seeing populations that are about six times larger than they were the previous year.”

    The bugs are extremely hard to get rid of. In its native lands of China, Japan, and Korea, parasitic wasps are used to control the pests. USDA researchers have collected some of the wasps from Asia, but they must be tested extensively before they can be released, a process that will take until 2016, according to the University of California.

    “Parasitism is our best hope for reducing populations,” Ingels, of the university, said. “Chemical control of BMSB [brown marmorated stink bug] is very challenging.”

    The best way to keep the bugs out of homes is to seal off any potential entry points, especially around window air conditioning units.

    If you suspect you have seen the bugs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends contacting your state’s Department of Agriculture, University Diagnostic Laboratory, or Cooperative Extension Service for advice on effective treatment and control recommendations.

    Follow Zachary Stieber on Twitter.

    Category: US US News

    • 2 manycritters

      Hate to say it, but so glad others are finally beginning to suffer, now maybe there will be a concerted effort to deal with these wretched insects. Here in N. VA, we’ve dealt with apocalyptic numbers of the pests for the last 4+ years and they have no natural predators. At the stable today, had at least 2-3 stink bugs land on me at any given second; it is totally out of control. Have had an exterminator spray in the past and yes, had to remove the dead bugs with snow shovels, there were that many. Do not like pesticides and they are not totally effective. We control flies at the stable with predator wasps, can’t some non-invasive predator be developed to deal with these horrible pests? Used to look forward to the fall, the last few warm days and the crisp mornings and evenings…it’s now stink bug season, you don’t want to be outside here in the country!

      • Mike DeAng

        I read the above article, and yes, they are working on a non-invasive predator:

        “In its native lands of China, Japan, and Korea, parasitic wasps are used to control the pests. USDA researchers have collected some of the wasps from Asia, but they must be tested extensively before they can be released, a process that will take until 2016, according to the University of California.”

      • Michelle Ward

        Really? You are SO GLAD others are finally BEGINNING to suffer ! ! ??? How old are you?! Do you really think that others would wish this on you? OH i cant go on, I am so mad, I am sure to say something I will regret. If you hated to say it, you sure loved to feel it!

      • Helene

        Complaining about bugs

      • bugs bugs bugs

        I am also in nova and it is bad. I have seen a natural predator tho…..SPIDERS!! spiders dont cae what gets caught up in their web….they just eat it. I have seen quite a few stinkys caught up and being eating in webs.

    • vimless

      i found tons when replacing the siding on a friends house. im not afraid of them but have a thousand of them crawling on you, you will creep out.

    • elleanna

      I was just outside scraping paint around my windows, saw a stink bug and came back in the house. gross.

    • Chunkylovemuffin

      These things are creeping into my house. They freak out my teenage daughter and my 20 year old son (which is quite funny).

      • donna

        thinking about investing in mosquito nets for sleeping. As soon as the lights go off, and I start to go to sleep, it sounds like helicopters in my room. they are so gross!!!!

      • Anna Almy

        Please consider using this tool: stinkbugchute.com It works and is ridiculously easy ..and efficient. My family in Virginia tried everything, with the exception of pesticides. This has helped them manage the infestation mainly in the house. They, along with my grandmother, have several of these strategically placed. A neighboring garden nursery keeps running out of them!! ~ good luck

    • Helene

      people stink, why shouldn’t bugs?

    • marianne robinson

      I live in Hudson Valley NY We have thousands of these awful stink bugs Nothing kills them Its awful & they do bite