Halyomorpha halys is an exotic insect species from Asia, but since its accidental introduction in the US during the 1990s, it has become very well known in the northeast as the “brown marmorated stink bug” (BMSB). For decades, port inspection authorities along the east coast have been regularly intercepting BMSB-infested goods within commercial vessels that depart from east Asia. These large and unsightly insect pests were first discovered inhabiting the US a little more than 20 years ago when specimens were recovered from Allentown, Pennsylvania. BMSBs rapidly spread throughout the entire east coast where they established a thriving invasive habitat. During the 2000s, BMSBs terrorized homeowners throughout the northeast. These large and foul smelling creatures swarmed into homes in massive numbers in order to secure a warm, dark and protected indoor harborage for overwintering. Although these pests do not bite, sting or damage property, they emit a foul odor when they become disturbed.
Once BMSBs enter a home, they congregate in wall voids, attics, crowded storage closets, and other largely inaccessible locations. After securing shelter, BMSBs emit their foul odor in order to attract additional stink bug pests indoors. In Massachusetts, these annual stink bug home invasions occur during the late summer and fall, and infestations cannot be easily eliminated. Pesticide applications are inadequate, but perimeter pesticide applications around homes have proven to be somewhat effective as a preventative control tactic. Since the BSMB is invasive in the US, they have no natural predators to keep their population size in check. Because of this, stink bug populations have been growing exponentially in the US, which explains the tremendous increase in BMSB-related pest complaints made by Massachusetts residents over the past 10 to 15 years. Luckily, there is one insect species in the US that preys upon BMSBs, and it is commonly known as the “wheel bug.” While this species is only found in the southern states, researchers have found that wheel bugs are quickly migrating to new northern habitats. This northward migration may be due to climate change, but experts are hoping that the predators are moving north to feed on the BMSB population.
Are you familiar with the wheel bug (Arilus cristatus)?