How to control stink bugs

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (photo by Chris Hedstrom)

You know these little suckers (literally). They creep into the nooks and crannies of your house, seeking winter shelter during the fall, then fly out to plague you on warm, sunny days. If you suck them up with a vacuum or Dustbuster, you’ll have to live with their malodorous presence for days thereafter. Yes, we’re talking about stink bugs, those shield-shaped pests who come by their common name honestly, emitting a foul odor as a defense mechanism when threatened or disturbed. More specifically, we mean the species that has become common in the Hudson Valley in recent years, having arrived in the US from East Asia around 1998: the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys.

As much of an unwelcome guest as it is in the home, stink bugs can inflict significant economic damage on farmers and affect home gardeners. Stink bugs cause the deformity to apples that’s known as “catfacing,” and they also attack peaches, apricots, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits, persimmons, beans, corn, tomatoes, soybeans, peppers and okra, not to mention a variety of ornamental plants.

Strategies for controlling stink bug invasions include caulking around cabinets, light fixtures, pipes, exhaust fans, baseboards and window frames, but they are not easily controlled by pesticides. The Hudson Valley Research Laboratory, associated with Cornell University, has been doing research on ways to stop the pests at the source: targeting stink bug egg clusters when they appear, from May through August.

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To learn more about this unwelcome visitor and how to discourage it, come hear entomologist Amy Walker, who has been assisting Hudson Valley Research Laboratory scientists in their fight to control the stink bug invasion, at 1 p.m. this Saturday, March 16 at the Plattekill Historical Preservation Society headquarters at 127 Church Street in Plattekill, just off Route 32. Admission and parking are free, and light refreshments will be served. For more info, call (845) 883-6118 or (845) 401-9469.

Stink bug talk, Saturday, Mar. 16, 1 p.m., Free, Plattekill Historical Preservation Society, 127 Church St., Plattekill