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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
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Olathe, KS 66061

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Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are a common insect in Kansas. There are green stink bugs, there are brown stink bugs. They are usually more of an outdoor pest, and not too much of an issue inside the home. However, we are seeing more and more evidence of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in east central Kansas. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an exotic, invasive insect that made its way to the United States unintentionally from Asia.

Like our domestic stink bugs, this exotic invader isn’t a destructive home pest. Their destructive qualities are focused on crops and other outdoor plants. They are an indoor pest in that they have an odor that earns them their ‘stink bug’ name. They do not transmit diseases to humans and don’t bite, so they are not the peskiest of insects we can find in our homes, but they are a smelly one.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs have a routine life cycle where they overwinter outdoors in protective covering. This protective covering could be tree bark, wood and brush piles, leaf litter, and other places where they are least likely to be disturbed. In the spring, they emerge from their sleeplike state and start looking for warm, protected areas in search of food sources. This is where we currently are.

Our weather pattern has been a series of warming temperatures followed by a return of winter weather. Warmer weather means the invasive stink bug is emerging and looking for that warm, protected shelter. They will make their way indoors as that is the warmest and most protected area that they will find until true spring weather is here.

While they are indoors, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are not destructive and will not be chewing on fabric or destroying the home. They will be a pest in that they stink and are not easily controlled in the home. Because their source is outside of the home, insecticides will not be a successful method of control. The best control is to make sure all gaps, cracks, and crevices are sealed with caulking and bigger gaps filled with steel wool. To help control them inside, a dish of soapy water under a bright light can be used to attract and trap the insects that made their way indoors. Vacuuming the insects is also way to easily collect and dispose of them, but their odor can remain in the vacuum.

If you can find their source outdoors, an insecticide treatment can be used on the host plant/overwintering site to control them at the source. Researchers have listed over 170 plants that are used for food and reproduction, so finding their host plant could be a tricky endeavor.

Now for the good news! Once warm weather is truly here to stay for the year, we should see a reduction in the pesky invaders as they find outdoor host plants to complete their life cycles. The cycle will continue again next year, but that will give us a few more months of good weather to get outside so we can find the cracks and gaps in our homes and get them sealed.

Should you want to find more information on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, and their threat to specialty crops (where they are a true pest and a growing concern nationwide), I would suggest checking out this website: http://www.stopbmsb.org/index.cfm for resources on how to identify the insect, more control methods, details on the life cycle, and the work that is being done to help control this invasive species in the United States.


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Amy Keigher

Natural Resources Agent