Although stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) are listed as occasional pests by Pest World, there have been infestations and having one stink bug can mean there are more around if favourable conditions exist. Stink bugs are six-legged insects with a partly triangular thorax that extends halfway down its back. It is brown, grey or dark green and is commonly found in the Eastern United States.
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If you live in a cold climate, one stink bug could be a sign there are more around. Stink bugs breed in warm weather and need external heat to stay alive. If they have migrated into a house to stay warm, they will congregate any place where the sunshine enters the house, such as a doorframe or windowsill. They are commonly more attracted to light-coloured houses. If they are gathered in a windowsill or door and there is no infestation, they can be vacuumed out. The bag with the stink bugs in it should be disposed of immediately because there will an odour if it remains in the house.
The stink bug cannot fly in its early stages and feeds on the host plant that the female left it on until it is able to fly. If you see young, non-flying stink bugs on a major host plant, you're certain to have more because the female attaches large masses of eggs to the underside of leaves and stems. These major hosts include birch, serviceberry, catalpa, butterfly bush, pecan, redbud, hackberry, pepper and dogwood.
Many species of stink bugs are attracted to light. Homes that are well lit at night have been targeted. Since they are active for several months, spring through late fall, sealing the house well so that they cannot get in may help keep them from entering and infesting a house. Homeowners should make sure the screens on their windows and doors are tight and undamaged, and caulk areas where the 3/4-inch bug might find entrance. If an infestation has occurred and more stink bugs are present than can be reasonably vacuumed, it may be wise to call an exterminator.
Stink bugs love juicy fruits -- tomato, apple, pear, plum, grape -- and if you have a fruit in your yard that they may be attracted to and you see one bug, it's smart to look for more. They can destroy a variety of crops by piercing the fruit with their mouth, sucking the juice and creating necrotic areas on the fruit's surface. They can also pass plant-pathogens. For some crops the stink bug is helpful because though it is basically a herbivore, it will attack and suck the juices out of locusts and other pests that destroy crops.
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