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Nature Notebook – Stink Bugs

Fall is here. Time for your house to fill up with winter boarders:  box elder bugs, ladybugs…and stink bugs.

Those pesky brown bugs with a triangular-shaped back are called brown marmorated stink bugs. They are a relatively new emigrant to Michigan but are rapidly making themselves at home. Their arrival from China, Japan or Korea was documented in Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s. Well established populations now exist in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula and many other parts of the U.S.

The stink bugs are harmless to humans unless you squish them or try to vacuum them up. The basis for their name will then become readily apparent. At this time of year, the adults just want a nice protected place to “hibernate.” If they can find their way out in the spring, they will begin looking for mates.

Until they enter the winter resting phase, the stink bugs are serious agricultural pests. They pierce the skin of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and legumes to feed on sap. The wounds damage or kill the plants. Our native stink bugs also feed on plants but there are far less of them than the BMSBs (the abbreviated name form).