Brown marmorated stink bugs are non-native insect pests that were first discovered in the US when specimens were collected from Allentown, Pennsylvania during the late 1990s. Since then, these pests have established an invasive population in most US states, but they continue to be most abundant and problematic in the eastern US, particularly the mid-Atlantic and northeastern regions. Many residents of the northeast have had first hand experience with brown marmorated stink bugs swarming into their homes during the fall season. These pests swarm into homes in order to find a suitable location for “overwintering.” A pest that successfully overwinters is a pest that manages to survive the cold of winter before becoming active again during the spring.

Many insect species, including native stink bugs, overwinter outdoors, but since brown marmorated stink bugs are native to Asia, they cannot find proper overwintering sites in the North American landscape; instead, brown marmorated stink bugs make an effort to overwinter within dark and obscure areas within heated homes before swarming back outdoors come spring. Unfortunately, once brown marmorated stink bugs begin swarming into homes come fall, the pests cannot be controlled with common store-bought pest control products.

During their seasonal dispersal flights, brown marmorated stink bugs gravitate toward artificial light sources, like street lights and porch lights. However, during the fall, brown marmorated stink bugs are driven solely by their instinct to survive the winter by securing shelter within warm conditions. This is why the invasive pests cannot be deterred from swarming indoors by incandescent light traps and other homemade and store-bought insect pest traps. Once indoors, brown marmorated stink bugs congregate in dark areas that are not easily accessible, such as in wall voids and beneath baseboards. Most stink bugs that secure indoor shelter during the fall will not live to see spring due to a lack of indoor food sources and predation from other arthropods, especially spiders. While few residents are ever happy to find spiders and spider webs within their home, it should be known that spiders are the most effective form of stink bug control available to residents short of professional pest control treatments.

Have you ever found brown marmorated stink bugs in your home during the winter?