Archive for the ‘Stink Bugs’ Category

Which Annoys You More: Asian tiger mosquitoes, ticks, or stinkbugs?

September 9, 2014

Chikungunya-Mosquito-Virus-Frederick-MDThe Frederick News-Post recently conducted an on-line poll asking which pest is more annoying. Since it was August, they chose to find out if their readers thought cicadas or stink bugs were worse. How curious, we thought. The surprising result was that only 71.6% said stink bugs were more annoying. It would have been more, but 24% said they were equally annoying. Judging by the calls we get from people anxious to get rid of stink bugs, which have been labeled by government officials as the “perfect pest” because they can annoy year round by invading your house in the fall, coming into your home and annoying you all winter, and then coming out again in the spring to hang out on the outside of your house (and start breeding), and then eat the farmers’ crops in the summer. The 29.6% who did not say stink bugs hands down must live in the parts of town where they hardly ever see stink bugs.

brown_marmorated_stink_bug_frederick_marylandIf we were to conduct a poll, we would ask which is more annoying, stink bugs or Asian tiger mosquitoes? The answer would vary by the location of the homeowner. Some might say they are equally annoying because they can’t be in their yard for five minutes without getting eating alive and at the same time have thousands of stink bugs trying to move into their house. But to us, that would be a much more interesting question. Of course, we don’t want to forget the other serious pest control issue in our region: the deer tick, which has infected thousands of people with debilitating bouts of Lyme disease.

lonestar tick in frederick marylandWe at Mosquito Squad of Frederick dislike them all equally. Even one mosquito, tick or stink bug can make our skin crawl; that’s why we love killing them. With stink bugs destroying crops, Asian tiger mosquitoes transmitting West Nile and Chikungunya, and deer ticks transmitting Lyme disease, we can certainly find reasons to enjoy helping people get peace of mind knowing that they don’t have to put up with those pests. Our barrier spray will take care of all of them. After a barrier spray, there will be no more annoying Asian tiger mosquitoes, deer ticks or stink bugs in your yard to annoy you.

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Stink Bug Traps May Have Unintended Results

July 31, 2014

stink bug control frederick md

It is not unusual for us to get calls from people who have severe stink bug infestations. Some of those customers have tried everything to get rid of those stinkers, including commercially marketed stink bug traps.  We can recall at least one time where the customer admitted that they had dramatically more stink bugs on their house after they put up a stink bug trap than they had before.   She even complained that the stink bugs were on the outside of the trap, but very few made it into the trap.   The reason she had many more stink bugs after using the trap was easily apparent to us.  The trap is designed to work by mimicing a pheromone that stink bugs use to attract other stink bugs to them.  The natural pheromone is very effective.  People have reported finding thousands of stink bugs clustered together, evidently because they followed the scent of the pheromone.  Stink bug traps operate very much similar to how mosquito magnet traps work.  In a previous blog, we discussed the problem with mosquito traps.  In fact, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has reported that mosquito traps help to count mosquito populations, but is not effective in controlling them. That is likely the case with stink bug traps.

On the other hand, one frequent question we get about our service is: does it repel the stink bugs?

stink bug control frederick mdThose two scenarios set up the key question about stink bug traps. Do you want to repel or attract stink bugs to your home? Unless you are a scientist wanting to do some experiments on them, or you get some, dare we say weird, pleasure out of counting and killing stink bugs in your home, you would prefer to repel them.

Based on our experience, and a recent story we read, we think that stink bug traps are a risky way to deal with a stink bug invasion. In the study reported in Entomology Today, 15 homeowners placed stink bug traps near their tomato plants. A control group of 14 other homeowners did not place traps near their tomatoes.  The researchers claimed that they saw as many stink bugs on the tomatoes in all yards, but noticed that there was more damage to the tomatoes where the stink bug traps were placed.  The researchers said perhaps it was due to “spillover” from the trap.  In other words, the trap may not have been able to hold all the stink bugs it attracted? Or stink bugs came to the area and were on the tomatoes before going into the traps? In our opinion, stink bug traps may capture some stink bugs, but if they successfully mimic the pheromone that attracts stink bugs, it can make the problem worse.  Sometimes, much worse. Your chance of success with a trap may also depend on several other factors requiring great expertise and timing.

stink bug control frederick mdWhen we treat for stink bugs, we have received anecdotal reports of stink bugs not coming back for a while and we have more commonly heard stories of thousands dying when they arrive at the front porch.  It’s hard to say if it is repelling stink bugs, or just killing them when they come. We do know that our product in general does have a repellent effect on many insects, including mosquitoes.  So, it may repel some stink bugs, but it will kill those that are not repelled.

Our product will eliminate your stink bug problem, not exponentially increase, which is the risk of using traps.  For any questions about stink bug control, or to request our expert services, call us at (301) 263-7220.

Conflicting Reports on Stink Bugs’ Mortality Rate Due to Our Cold Winter

July 11, 2014

stinkbug_frederick_md2In February of this year (2014), Virginia Tech researchers did studies to test stink bugs’ resilience in extreme cold temperatures. According to their research they concluded, “…about 95 percent of them were exterminated (when temperatures hovered around zero degrees for several days)”, due to the renowned “polar vortex” much of the Northeast experienced extreme cold for a longer than average duration. The research, unfortunately, was only limited to Blacksburg, Virginia where temperatures were closer to the zero degree mark, unlike Maryland.

stinkbug_frederick_md1According to another article by the Washington Post, Mike Raupp disputed the mortality rate of stink bugs. He remained more guarded in his prediction of the stink bug population in Maryland. While Blacksburg had a few days at 4 degrees below zero, Maryland did not. A research entomologist for the Agriculture Department also believes that stink bugs were not as greatly affected by the colder than average winter. Entomologist Tracey Leskey stated, “Unfortunately, they’re (stink bugs) doing just fine”. According to Leskey, “Even if they did die in bunches, they enter winter with an enormous population, so plenty of survivors rush out in spring to multiply”. Compounding the lower than expected mortality rates of stink bugs in the elements is the fact that many stink bugs make their way into homes during the cold months. Mike Raupp stated, “Every day I’ve had a stink bug wandering across my desk; they’re doing fine in my house”.

stinkbug_frederick_md3Just last week we had a customer reporting a large number of stink bugs on his house.  He noticed hey were smaller than usual, but stinkbugs nonetheless. This created the potential for an explosion of the stink bug population on this customer’s property, as there were now 2 generations of stink bugs (adult stink bugs and nymph stink bugs). A nymph (stink bug) looks extremely different than an adult stink bug; in most cases it looks so dissimilar that people think they are seeing an immature tick or other small insects. According to a research article, the brown marmorated stink bug, or BMSB, has a life cycle which consists of the following:

Eggs: The white or pale green barrel-shaped eggs are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. Egg masses have about 25 eggs that are only about 1 mm in diameter but become apparent when nymphs have recently emerged, as they will stay at the egg mass for several days. In Pennsylvania, eggs first appeared in late June, but females continued to lay egg masses until September. Although only one generation was observed, multiple generations are likely as the distribution spreads to the south (Bernon et al. 2004).

Nymphs: As with all immature stink bugs, the nymphs lack fully developed wings and have been described as tick-like in appearance, ranging in size from 2.4 mm (1st instar) to 12 mm (5th instar). Nymphs need to molt, or shed their outer skin (exoskeleton), as they progress through five different stages or nymphal instars. First instars are colored orange or red and remain clustered around the egg mass, sometimes until they molt to the 2nd instar stage. The 2nd instar begins to develop an almost black appearance, and subsequent instars (3rd, 4th, and 5th) begin to acquire more of the adult BMSB coloration.

Adults: Adults are 12 to17 mm long (approximately 1/2 inch), and have a mottled appearance. Alternating dark and light bands occur on the last two antennal segments. Additionally, the head and pronotum are covered with patches of coppery or bluish metallic-colored punctures and the margins of the pronotum are smooth as compared to the toothed, jagged pronotal margin of Brochymena (Hoebeke 2002). The exposed lateral margins of the abdomen are marked with alternate bands of brown and white. Faint white bands are also evident on the legs.

Don’t let stink bugs take over your house, refer to our previous blog about the best way to remove them from your home. As always, if you have any questions regarding stink bugs and how to best protect your home, call us at (301) 263-7220.

The Best Way to Kill Stink Bugs

December 19, 2011

On October 28, 2011 I attended a conference for pest control professionals where the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) was the main topic of discussion.  Some highlights from the conference.  The University of Maryland says that exclusion is the best way to control stink bugs.  In other words, they suggest that homeowners simply seal their house.  Many of our customers report having tried everything to seal their homes, but their homes were still infested with stink bugs.  Sealing your house can only get you so far.  One of my customers told me that he heard a BMSB can shrink down to the size of two pieces of paper stacked on top of each other.  The BMSB can enter your home from various places, including vents, chimneys, windows, under the siding, the eaves, doors, etc.  Of course, sealing the house only gets you so far.  I have met several people who stopped using doors to their homes because they knew that if they opened that door, stink bugs would come in in droves.   What good does it do to seal a house, if they swarm into your home when you open a door to go in or out?

The University of Maryland extension recommended that homeowners simply use a vacuum on any stink bugs that enter their home.  If you choose to do this, you run the risk of ruining the vacuum for any other purpose because the vacuum will smell horrible and, if you have a large infestation, you will spend hours a day vacuuming.  Many of my customers have reported that before they called Mosquito Squad of Frederick they would spend hours a day vacuuming up stink bugs during peak periods.

Our experience confirms that it is best to keep them out.  We find that our comprehensive treatment has helped hundreds of happy customers live without stink bugs invading their homes.  To see one customer’s video testimonial click here.  To see another, click here.

University of Maryland Predicts This Year Will Be the Worst for Stink Bugs

February 17, 2011

We just found this article in the Courier-Post out of Southern New Jersey.   Not only does the article say that we should expect billions of stink bugs this spring, it actually suggests that they will start mating later this month.   Our information is similar to the articles, except that we anticipate that the stink bugs will start mating in the spring, perhaps April or May.  If the weather stays warm the rest of the winter, perhaps they will come out sooner.   You may want to get some stink bug treatments in the spring to prevent as much mating as possible. 

I found it interesting that the person they chose to quote about how bad his stink bugs are happens to live right here in Frederick. 

The article says “In his 90-year-old farmhouse south of Frederick, Md., Doug Inkley is already under siege. He’s a biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, and he loves bugs.”  Poor Mr. Inkley has actually counted the number of stink bugs that he has vacuumed up inside his home, more than 12,000 since January.   According to the article the brown marmorated stink bug, plaguing this area, are at least one bug he does not like, or love for that matter. 

Brace yourself, the experts discussed in this article, say this year should be the worst.  “Michael Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland who’s been studying the bugs, predicts this year will be the worst so far.” 

Here are some tips from the article:

How to kill stink bugs

You may be tempted to crush them, but you’ll be rewarded with an odor you won’t like. Instead:

– Vacuum them. This also will help kill stink bug eggs. But dispose of the vacuum bag, maybe dousing it with some insecticide as you set it in the trash can.

– Attract them. Use a wide-mouth can. Fill with an inch of water, sweet-scented dish soap, and a little cooking oil on top. Make sure that pets cannot lick this trap. The sweet smell lures the bugs; the oil smothers their discharge; the soapy water smothers them as they sink.

– Exterminate them with commercially available insecticides. But apply the chemicals outside. If you do so when they are in your walls, you could attract carpet beetles that feed on their carcasses and potentially your woolens.  (At Mosquito Squad, we use a product that kills the stink bugs as they land on the treated area for two to three weeks, and sometimes longer.  This product is only sold to certified applicators.). 

– Repel them. They don’t like the smell of garlic – if you can handle it.

– Block them. Caulk small openings and cracks in your house or elsewhere to keep them out of structures. Repair damaged screens.

Sources: Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences, city of Burkittsville, Md.

Information about Stink Bug Life Cycle

January 7, 2011

People have been telling me recently that they are starting to notice stink bugs in their house in the first week of January. As one person put it, it got a little warmer and now I am seeing them in my house. They wonder why that is. Others have asked me about the stink bugs’ life cycle. I thought I would share this information for anyone who is interested. Stink bugs are generally hatched in August. In September they notice that the temperature is getting colder so they start coming to your house to overwinter. They continue being heavily concentrated around certain homes, mostly in more rural areas near soy or corn farms or wooded areas, from September to November. By mid November the temperature has dropped enough that the stink bugs are inside where they will hibernate, or as some have called it, semi-hibernate. As it gets warmer to the stink bugs, they may start to get more active indoors. Though one of my customers told me that they saw stink bugs outside their home last February after the major snow fall. In April and May, they will start going outdoors. That is when they will mate. So, when is the best time to treat for stink bugs? Some may want to treat in April thru June to kill them before they breed and lay eggs. Definitely, from August through October is the time to treat to keep as many as possible out of your house.