Be aware of the brown marmorated stink bug

Thursday, October 4, 2018

They’re back! And it seems to me that there are more of them and have come earlier. We have had a new pest the last couple of years invading our homes in late fall and wanting a place to stay the winter. This insect is the brown marmorated stink bug and currently it can be found around homes trying to find a place to get in. An invasive insect, it has been in the US since 1996 and can now be found throughout Tennessee. It feeds on a wide range of tree fruits, vegetables ornamental plants and crops, however, apples and peaches are affected the most.

The brown marmorated stink bug is grayish brown speckled shield-backed bug that is about three quarters of an inch long. An identifying feature for this stink bug is the white stripes on the 4th antennal segment and black and white bands on the sides of the abdomen. As for its life history, it overwinters in protected places including houses as an adult. It does not reproduce during the winter months and thus does not reproduce while it is invading your home. In spring, adults hunt host plants such as fruit trees, redbuds and other flowering trees to lay eggs. Nymphs feed on fruit and seedpods and molt into adults in late summer. Injury to tree fruits and vegetables appear as discolored and sunken areas.

As far as control this fall from this invading insect, preventing access into homes is the most effective. Products containing pyrethroid ingredients (bifenthrin, beta-cyfluthrin, cyfluthrin and lambda cyhalothrin) have been effective chemical insecticides when applied around windows, doors and other entry points if applied before insect entry. However, insecticides have limited persistence when used outdoors due to sunlight and rain so reapplication may be warranted at times. Sealing with caulking around doors, windows, utility penetrations, and any other cracks is advisable. Repair or replace door and window screens and install screens behind crawl spaces, attic vents and chimney openings. Window unit air conditioners are a common entry point. Any hole or crack where light is present needs to be filled.

Removal of the brown marmorated stink bugs once they enter the home can be done with a vacuum cleaner. They will have a smell if vacuumed in large numbers. Virginia Tech researchers have developed a very easy approach to catching this insect in the home. You will need a deep sided pan filled half full with soapy water and place a desk lamp over the pan. Leave light on overnight and you should have a pan of bugs in the morning. A video of this demonstration can be found at or visit the UT Extension Marshall County Facebook page. It is not advised to spray an insecticide indoors for this insect. Dead bugs can accumulate behind walls and attract carpet beetles and spiders.

If you have questions about the brown marmorated stink bug, you can call the UT Extension Marshall County office at (931) 359-1929.