The change of seasons from summer to fall means many things: leaves changing colors, dropping temperatures, and—depending on where you live—stink bugs sneaking into your home. Stink bugs were named for their distinct ability to emit an unpleasant odor when they are threatened or disturbed by predators like lizards or birds. This also means that if stink bugs enter your home and feel threatened, you’ll be faced with dealing with their strong smell in your house. As we head into fall, you might find yourself with more active stink bugs than usual, so it’s important to know the basics about these smelly insects.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Where do stink bugs come from?

The brown marmorated stink bug was initially found sometime in the late 1990s, most likely hitching a ride in shipping containers, and was previously only found in its native home of China, Japan, and other East Asian countries In the United States, it was initially found in northern states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But now that the brown marmorated stink bug is in the United States, it seems it is here to stay. The stink bug’s adaptability and ability to breed in a range of climates means it has spread across the country, and it has been spotted in almost all 50 states. Considering how common they’ve become, some people are surprised to learn that the brown marmorated stink bug is not native to the United States.

When is stink bug season?

Stink bugs can live year round, and their activity varies based on the climate of where they’re living. However, fall is often seen as stink bug season because that is when brown marmorated stink bugs become particularly active in homes. In the summer, the temperature is warm enough for stink bugs to live comfortably outdoors. But the fall means that winter is rapidly approaching and temperatures are about to start dropping—so stink bugs need to search for a place to spend the colder months. 

Though stink bugs tend to be very active in the fall, it is not usually when they breed. Brown marmorated stink bugs like to breed when the temperature starts to get warmer. After about two weeks of feeding in the springtime, brown marmorated stink bugs will begin to mate. Female brown marmorated stink bugs lay their eggs in clusters, with each cluster containing about 20 to 30 eggs. In one lifetime, female brown marmorated stink bugs can lay anywhere from 212 to 486 eggs. In warmer climates, more than one generation can occur in a single year. In addition to the ability to lay many eggs in one lifetime, brown marmorated stink bugs can also hitchhike on vehicles (and planes). These two attributes have helped this invasive pest spread

Are stink bugs dangerous?

The smell that a stink bug releases can’t cause physical harm, despite its rather foul odor making it seem otherwise. But if you’re a farmer or someone that relies on crops, stink bugs, including native species, are not just an olfactory nuisance—they’re an agricultural danger. Young stink bugs—nymphs—and adult stink bugs both feed on over a hundred different types of plants including popular crops. This can mean devastation for lots of farmers, especially family-owned businesses who rely on each and every yield. By some estimates, brown marmorated stink bugs have caused millions of dollars in damage to crops like apple orchards making them a costly economic, invasive species.

What can you do?

Like we mentioned, fall is stink bug season so now is the time to prevent a stink bug infestation and keep your home from becoming a stink bug’s next overwintering site. Check the exterior of your house for places where stink bugs could enter, including door gaps and window cracks, and make sure these are properly sealed. 

If a large group has already entered your home and made themselves comfortable, they can be difficult to remove. So if you suspect a stink bug problem, don’t wait - contact the professionals. A Terminix pest control professional can help you manage and remove any and all stink bugs that may have found their way into your home.