You’ve experienced this before: the horror of finding a stink bug in your Lancaster area home, the fear of not knowing how it got in, and the rush as you try to get rid of it before it can smell up your house.
Stink bugs are one of my favorite things to talk about. That’s because people have many misconceptions about them, including these two common myths.
Common Myths About Stink Bugs
Myth # 1: There is nothing that can kill stink bugs
It is amazing to me how many people still make this statement “I thought there was nothing that kills stink bugs.” To explain how this myth got started, I first need to briefly explain the pesticide label and how it works. Each label has a list of pests for which you are permitted to use the product. If you use a pesticide to control a pest that is not listed on the label, then as a commercial applicator you have violated the law. However, each label also contains a list of sites (places or parts of a structure) where you are allowed to apply the material. So if you treat a structure, or a portion thereof, for spiders and there happened to be stink bugs on that area, you have made a legal application as long as the site is listed on the label. Make sense?
About the Stink Bug
OK, now part two. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a fairly new insect species in the U.S. It was imported back in the late 90’s and was first confirmed in the Allentown, PA area. Even as late as 2010, which is the year that stink bug activity peaked in our area, there was not a single insecticide that listed the stink bug on their list of approved insects. Someone in the pest management industry must have told someone in the media about this. I am sure they explained the application site “loophole” to the media as well, but “There is no spray that kills stinkbugs” is a much better headline or story than “Commercial applicators have to rely on the application sites portion of the label to kill stink bugs”. The reality is that any insecticide will kill stink bugs. They are not super bugs, they are just bugs. The media loves to create drama. I remember reading articles and seeing television news stories about how stink bugs were going to be a “plague of Biblical proportion”.
Tomlinson Bomberger Pest Control has been successfully helping our clients with stink bug control for many years. Controlling them is no different than controlling any other pests. You determine how they are getting into the home and eliminate or reduce the entry sites via physical exclusion and judicious use of insecticides where needed.
Myth #2: Stink bugs can flatten themselves to the thickness of a piece of paper and squeeze in around your closed windows
This is complete nonsense. You could hit a stink bug with a hammer and it would not be as thin as a piece of paper. While they can flatten themselves and squeeze into some pretty small cracks, they are not able to squeeze in through most modern windows (I am sure someone out there can find an old window that may be able to allow entry). I believe this myth was started because stink bugs are attracted to light once they enter into your home or business, so they are often found around the windows, doors, and skylights.
Side note: Many, many people have told me they think stink bugs are coming in through the skylights. I ask them if water comes in through the lights when it rains, to which they of course reply “no”.
It is a very common to assume that an insect must be entering in the areas that they are most often seen, so people (likely some of them working in the pest management industry) were quick to jump to the conclusion that stink bugs must be flattening themselves and somehow squeezing through the cracks in a brand new, air tight, top of the line window. They will be looking through this air tight window from the inside that has stink bugs on it and wondering how they got through the window, while at the same time not even considering the wide open doors that exist in the room, or in nearby rooms, or other openings such as chimneys with open flues or window air conditioners.
Stink bugs are attracted in cool weather to the areas where significant heat is escaping from the home. The two most common places are chimneys, especially gas fireplaces with a pilot light burning and an open flue, or through the wall air conditioning units. If you exclude stink bug entry from these two key areas of your home, you are well on your way to ending your stink bug frustrations.
Other very common entry points are ill-fitting windows and/or screens in bad repair. Once again, the heat is escaping from your windows on cool autumn nights and drawing the stink bugs towards the heat (I swear they must see in infrared). If they can get around or through your screens, then they only have one more step to take to get into your home. In the fall, when stink bug invasion is most common, cool nights turn into beautiful days. Windows are opened to let the fresh air in and the stink bugs that are between the screens and windows once again have a wide opening.
For best stink bug management results, always address your wide open doors before contemplating the tiny cracks through which stink bugs may (or may not) be able to squeeze.
About the Author: Robert Braden
Rob Braden is the Pest Control Supervisor for Tomlinson Bomberger and has been involved in the Pest Control Service industry for over 20 years. He has extensive knowledge in all areas of pest management and leads a team of well-trained, certified pest management pros who are eager to provide solutions for your concerns.