Autumn and spring in the mountains means something not so sweet: stink bugs.Wondering how to kindly kick these critters to the curb? We spoke with Jim Walgenbach, NC State Professor of Entomology at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, for the scoop.
First things first: while they’re an irritating inconvenience, stink bugs are nothing to fear. “Stink bugs are an invasive species that can cause a lot of damage to the fruit and vegetable industry,” Jim says, “but they cause no harm to structures or humans.”
After overwintering inside our homes, stink bugs emerge to feed and reproduce, “which is why we see the largest numbers of them from April to May,” Jim notes.
Native to Asia, stink bugs were introduced to the US in the mid 1990s, and the first documented stink bug in our state showed up in 2009 in Forsyth County. Now, their presence has been confirmed in 75 of NC’s 100 counties. Stink bugs thrive in the mountains because “WNC’s climate is ideal — they don’t do well with very high temperatures, which is why there are many more in WNC than Eastern NC,” Jim says.
When it comes to stink bugs, your best defense is a good offense. “It’s best to prevent them from getting in in the first place,” says Jim. That means caulking windows + doors to keep them out.
If they’re already in your home, Jim says the easiest, most humane way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up. You can also throw them into soapy water or flush them. And if your dog loves chomping on them like Editor Brook’s does, well, that’s ok, too. Just don’t step on them or you’ll trigger that odoriferous scent.
Want more stink bug resources? See StopBMSB.org.