Taking an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management


Missouri Environment & Garden


Jaime Pinero
Lincoln University
(573) 681-5522

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in Homes

Jaime Pinero
Lincoln University
(573) 681-5522

Published: October 11, 2016

By Jaime Pinero
Co-authored by Richard Houseman

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a significant agricultural pest of foreign origin. It was first discovered in Missouri in 2013. Since then they have been slowly spreading throughout the state, mostly in the eastern (including St. Louis area) and the southern regions. In addition to causing damage to many types of plants and fruit in the spring and summer, BMSB becomes a nuisance pest both indoors and out when it is attracted to the outside of houses on warm fall days in search of protected, overwintering sites.

The adult BMSB is about 5/8 inch long, and marbled brown. It can be distinguished from other stink bugs of comparable size and color by the following characteristics: the antennae have two white bands, the legs are marbled brown with faint white bands; the membranous parts of the forewings have dark bands at the tip; and a banded abdominal edge is visible to the side of the wings.
Picture credit: Steven Valley, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org.

High numbers of BMSB result from the release of an aggregation pheromone (a scent that attracts other BMSB to the area). The aggregation pheromone is not the same chemical that causes them to stink. During the winter months BMSB enters a type of hibernation called diapause. During this time they do not feed and do not reproduce. The BMSB is the only stink bug known to congregate inside houses and other buildings the fall.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is not harmful to people, houses, or pets. They do not bite, sting, suck blood, or spread diseases; and they do not eat or bore into wood structures. However, adults emit an offensive odor if disturbed or crushed.

Mechanical exclusion is the best method to keep BMSB from entering homes and buildings. This also applies to the Multicolored Asian lady beetles, another insect species that is known to congregate in and around homes and buildings in the fall. Placement of screens over windows, doors and vents, removal of window air conditioners and caulking cracks in windows and doorframes will deter the adults from entering. Removal of window air conditioners is important, as numerous BMSB will enter this way. Insecticide foggers or sprays are not recommended for eliminating BMSB indoors. Both live and dead BMSB can be removed from interior areas with the aid of a vacuum cleaner - however, the vacuum may acquire the smell of stink bugs for a period of time.

Virginia Tech researchers developed an easy method to trap BMSB inside homes: (1) place a foil roasting pan filled with some water and a few drops of dish soap, (2) point a light into the pan, and (3) place the pan in an area where BMSB is present. Bugs will be attracted to the light and will fall into the water and drown. Empty the pan and repeat as necessary. See this short video produced by Virginia Tech.

(the link is https://vimeo.com/92354801)

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REVISED: November 1, 2016