The brown marmorated stink bug has become a well known nuisance pest within households in the eastern United States. These invasive insect pests have been known to infest homes in the hundreds and even thousands, and infestations can be difficult to eradicate, as these bugs often sneak their way into wall-voids and other hard-to-access indoor areas. In addition to invading homes in high numbers, the brown marmorated stink bug is notorious for its foul-smelling defensive secretions, which can leave infested homes smelling unpleasant long after the bugs have been eradicated. The bugs secrete the odorous chemicals when threatened, but the greatest stink tends to be produced when specimens are squished, making these insect pests difficult to control within homes. In many cases, pest control professionals are called upon to eradicate brown marmorated stink bug infestations.

There are around 200 documented stink bug species within the US and Canada, and many of these species secrete foul odors just like the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, but the brown marmorated stink bug is the only species that makes a habit out of invading homes in massive numbers. Infestations can occur during the summer, but they are more common during the fall when the insects are desperate to find indoor shelter in an effort to survive the cold of winter. Luckily, the brown marmorated stink bug is not dangerous to humans, as they rely on their foul secretion, rather than venomous bites and stings, to fend off predators. This secretion is composed of many odorous chemicals that are stored within specialized organs on the insect’s thorax. When threatened, a cocktail of chemicals are emitted onto a rough part of the insect’s exoskeleton, allowing the unpleasant-smelling odors to disperse into the air. However, the brown marmorated stink bug is far from being the only insect pest that secretes odorous defensive chemicals. A variety of insect species known as “true bugs” rely on odorous chemicals in order to survive. Some of these true bugs include water striders, giant water bugs, leaf-footed bugs and other stink bugs that are native to North America. These bugs have been known to invade homes in rare cases, but most true bug pests infest outdoor gardens and lawns.

Have you ever smelled a brown marmorated stink bug’s odorous secretion?