Indiana’s Newest Stinky Invader

Indiana’s Newest Stinky Invader

Ever wonder why you’ve been seeing so many of these unfamiliar creepy crawlies in the house lately and what on Earth they are? Crawling all over the walls and ceilings and seemingly everywhere lately, they can be quite a nuisance; and if you think your house is bad, one house was once found to have over 26,000 of the bugs overwintering in it according to the Journal of Entomological Science.

They’re called Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs and the reason you’ve been seeing so many lately, is because they are an invasive species not native to Northwest Indiana. In fact, they are not native to this continent at all.

Originally from East Asia (China, the Koreas, and Japan), they have been making their way east since their presence was first confirmed in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998, though they are believed to have made landfall around 1996.

We’re not alone though, Europe and even South America have also become victims of this agricultural pest in recent years. They feed on anything from soy beans to peaches, apples, green beans, cherries and more. The fact that they can feed on virtually any agricultural crop is part of what has led to their success in the United States and made them such a devastating force on our agriculture.

It’s a “sucking insect” meaning it uses a proboscis to feed, and can cause widespread damage to crops as they leave behind dimples and necrotized areas in the fruit or vegetable.

As for the smell, that’s from pheromones they release to ward off predators which many claim smells like coriander, though I suppose that depends on the nose of the beholder. 

The reason we’ve been seeing them is because they started being sighted in Indiana as early as 2010 and it seems they are here to stay. They survive the cold by wintering inside warm houses and waiting until spring. Now in at least 40 states and with a population increasing exponentially, it looks as if these foreign invaders may be here to stay.

Do we tolerate our new neighbors or reach for the spray can? Don’t get too pesticide crazy; most won’t work on them, as they have developed a resistance to many, and others are ineffective because they don’t eat the outside of fruits. Fortunately, birds are beginning to prey on them more as they get used to the new food source. So, start making friends with some birds.