The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

It’s stink bug season again: how bad are they where you live? (POLL)

Yuck!  My Bugzooka’s insect chamber is full of stink bugs that were caught buzzing around the house during the past week. The Bugzooka is an insect vacuum gun that catches stink bugs without having to handle and smell the little stinkers. (Kevin Ambrose)

The cicadas are long gone but the 2013-14 stink bug season is now upon us.  Summer has transitioned to autumn which has sent stink bugs scurrying to hibernate inside of the walls and attics of our homes, apartments, and office buildings.

When we get warm spells of weather, like during the past week, the stink bugs become active and emerge into the living spaces of homes.  During cooler weather, the bugs settle down and don’t move around as much.  It’s an ugly cycle that continues through the winter months as we experience thaws and freezes.

If you’re one of the unfortunate stink bug sufferers like me, you may have noticed the correlation of warm-ups and stink bug activity.  Basically, warm fall and winter weather equates to more stink bugs buzzing around our dwellings.

The stink bug continues to spread across the eastern United States from its first sighting in Allentown, Pennsylvania 15 years ago.  Ohio is suffering as much as the Washington area and stink bugs have moved into North Carolina.  The bugs have even spread across Long Island.  Entomologists are stating that stink bugs will be with us for many years to come.

Recent stink bug reports from exterminating companies like HomeTeam Pest Defense indicate the stink bug issue is particularly bad in the counties west of D.C.  I have a friend who lives near Front Royal and he confirmed the report and said the bugs have swarmed into his garage by the dozens during the past two weeks.

I thought it would be interesting to poll our readers to see which area in the Washington region has the worst stink bug problems.  I divided a map into west, central, and east zones.  Check the map for your zone and take the poll below.  Let’s see which area has the biggest bug issue.

Stink bug zone poll – refer to zone map above to determine which poll to take:

Stink bugs harm crops but they are harmless to people.  The bugs are easy to catch and they don’t bite.  For most people, the bugs are a nuisance because they buzz around the house and crash into walls.  If you sit still, they will even land on you.  Throw in the fact that the bug is ugly and smelly, it ranks near the top on the home pest list.

Stink bugs seem to prefer light colored homes, but there are plenty of examples of dark-colored homes with stink bugs.  Landscape lighting and gardens also attract the bugs.

When the weather cools and the days shorten, the bugs will seek out houses and find windows, doors, eaves, and soffits to use as portals of entry.  It’s amazing how the stink bug can squeeze through closed windows and extremely narrow gaps.

I have found the best prevention for stink bugs is to seal and weatherstrip windows and doors, and caulk around wall fixtures that have gaps which provide an opening into the living area of a house.  It’s a lot of work, but the effort can dramatically reduce the number of bugs that find their way into your living room, kitchen, or bedroom this fall and winter.


Stink bug season 2011-12

Stink bug meets spider

Will the Winter’s volatile weather kill of the stink bugs?

Traps for fighting the inevitable stink bug invasion