The Stink Bug Meets Its Match

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CREDIT FREEIMAGES.COM/THOMAS LICHTBLAU

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Maybe you’ve seen it in your home; the oval-shaped brown marmorated stink bug. It’s hard shell looks like a shield. It gets its name from the strong scent it releases as a defense against predators. Some compare it to the aroma of cilantro.

The insect has permeated the northeast and upstate New York in recent years and some of them may have spent the winter inside your house.

“But now they want to get out, they want to eat, they want to go through their reproductive cycles and get back to business,” said Cornell University entomologist Peter Jentsch.  He says the stink bug won’t harm humans but it’s a real agricultural pest. It likes to munch on legumes and fruit trees, and that’s a problem in this apple-growing region.

The good news is Jentsch thinks he’s found the silver bullet to reduce the stink bug population.

It’s an insect called the Samurai wasp, and like the stink bug, it’s native to Asia. The wasps kill stink bug eggs and have been known to wipe out 60 to 100 percent of the pests.

“And we’re moving the wasp to western New York, in and around Rochester and Syracuse throughout the apple growing region along Lake Ontario, as well as in the Hudson Valley,” said Jentsch. We’re really hoping this is going to help reduce the angst people are experiencing from these things being in their homes, and certainly so apple growers don’t have to spray late in the season when the insect becomes a real problem.”

Jentsch said the stink bug, besides irritating people by seeking refuge inside their homes, has been causing damage to agricultural crops across New York State since 2011.

They’re not difficult to remove from the home. If you toss them outside, Jentsch said they’re unlikely to come back in because they’re looking for food at this point. It’s the progeny of the ones you send packing who will try to get back inside in the fall.

“One of the things we recommend is to try to seal up the house as best as possible with either screening or removing the air conditioner from the window, or sealing the air conditioner in the walls so they have no of getting in; sealing the soffits and the fascia as best as possible,” he said.

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