Invasive stinkbug population on the rise in the Tri-State

CINCINNATI - As temperatures rise, so have complaints about a new, stinky pest in the Tri-State – the brown, marmorated stinkbug.

"We're getting quite a few calls about that exact insect," said Kurt Scherzinger, of Scherzinger Pest Control. "The calls this year have tripled."

Scherzinger said the reason for the increase now is due to the nature of the invasive species that originated in Asia and was first reported in the United State in Allentown, Pa. in 2001.

"They more or less hibernate up in siding and attics during the winter months," Scherzinger said.

With warmer spring temperatures, the bugs are waking up and seeking to get outside.

More of a nuisance for homeowners now, Gene Kritsky, an entomologist and professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph, said the Asian stinkbugs will become a bigger problem as their numbers continue to grow since they lack natural predators in North America.

"About three years ago in New Jersey, they were shoveling them up in snow shovels," Kritsky said.

Additional problems with larger numbers of the insect will be damage done to fruits and vegetables.

"They do feed on a lot fruit," Kritsky said. "There is significant discoloration of apples, cherries. Now there are reports they are eating things like soy beans, sweet corn and things like that."

Confirmed reports of stinkbugs found in homes in Boone and Kenton counties occurred within the last year or so, according to Andrea Dee, a UK, Kenton County Extension Agent for Horticulture.

Dee reports no damage done to the one or two orchards located in Kenton County due to the bugs.

Kritsky said the likelihood of damage to farm and garden crops will happen in Kentucky and Ohio if the insect population growth continues unabated.

"So far they have only been an incidental concern," he said. "There will be greater interest in control as they start to affect peoples' commodities."

Kritsky said researchers are currently looking for ways to protect those crops from the bug, but for homeowners, the answer will be finding crevices where the bugs enter and to seal them up.

"It's definitely something that just doing an application of pest control and expecting them go away won't work," Scherzinger said. "The biggest thing with the pest, is to seal up any crevices. The best way to do it is to get some sort of preventative measure in place by late summer, early fall."

And for any bugs found in the house right now? The vacuum may be a homeowners best friend, since squishing the little pests could be a smelly affair.

"If you do vacuum them make sure you take that vacuum bag out right away," Kritsky advises. "If you have a nice expensive vacuum, you don't want to have those dead stink bugs in there."

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