Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

BMSB – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Don’t smash it! Don’t ever try to squish it. If you do, your nose will know; it is called a stink bug for a reason. The stink bug, when threatened, releases a liquid. This liquid has a strong smell and is used to discourage predators, but is not dangerous.

BMSB - Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Stink Bug photo by Paul Redwine

In the United States, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB for short; Halyomorpha halys) has become a major agricultural pest. Similar to the Southern Green Stink Bug, the BMSB was first reported in 1998 in Pennsylvania, first found in Allentown. It came from (like many other insects) Asia. It did not come into our country legally, and because of westward expansion and its desire to travel this great land of opportunity, the brown marmorated stink bug is now present in at least 41 states. It plans on visiting more states in the land of purple mountains and fruited plains.

As far as its lifecycle, the pest has shield-shaped morphology. Adults measure a half inch in length. They lay eggs under the leaves in masses of about 25-28 eggs in late spring / early summer. The eggs are pale green in color and barrel-shaped, or elliptical. In the north, females continue to lay eggs until late September with only one generation per year. In the south, however, multiple generations are observed. Nymphs (2.4 mm) emerge from the eggs within 3 to 7 days and are orange to red in color which remain clustered around the egg mass. These nymphs lack wings and have a tick-like appearance. The nymphs undergo four moltings and become adults after five instars. This instar molts to appear as a winged, dark-colored adult. The adult female lays up to 400 eggs during her lifespan.

BMSBs Suck!

BMSB - Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Photo courtesy of Mohammed El Damir ~~ Bugwood

The BMSB is a pest of many garden vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants. It has been found to infest flowers of hibiscus, celosia stems, malabar, apple, cherry, citrus, fig, mulberry, peach, pear, soybean, and others. It becomes quite a nuisance to homeowners as the stinkers enter homes when the weather gets colder, usually in the fall. Its purpose in doing so is to simply overwinter until the weather warms up again.

See also Coming Attractions: How to help keep out the stink bugs that are attracted to your home.

The BMSB has piercing and sucking mouthparts and inserts its thin needle-like beak into the plant pith or fruit and sucks the sap, causing damage to plants. The sucking leaves the plant unhealthy and the produce inedible. It also affects the beauty of ornamental plants, leaving them weakened and withered.

Control of the BMSB

The pest is very offensive if it enters the house. To carefully manage the pest infestation in your gardens and homes, the following control measures should be taken:
Pesticides are available to control the pest. It is important to contact a pest control professional when dealing with the BMSB, as pest management professionals know best how to apply the materials.

Advise from a pest management sage: Don’t let them in.  This ingenious advise may sound a little simplistic, but it is certainly true. The best thing a homeowner can do to help prevent the stink bug from entering the home is to seal off cracks and other openings. This can be done using silicone caulk. Check around doors, windows, and other openings for potential entry spots. Larger areas may need more work to seal out the BMSB. Windows and doors of houses should be kept closed. Since stink bugs are attracted to light, the homeowner can help prevent them by turning off exterior lights.

Stink bug traps are also available. The traps typically contain lures or lights to attract the stink bug, where it gets trapped inside the device. They can be used inside and out, but if the stink bugs are not inside the home, it is best to use them outside only.

BMSB Facts:

  • Stink bugs are eaten around the world, as they are edible and provide a high amount of protein.
  • “Brown Marmorated” refers to the marble like brown coloration of the bug.
  • “Stink Bug” refers to its characteristic of emitting a very pungent and offensive odor from its abdomen when it is disturbed.
  • If the bug crawls on your body or skin, it can cause redness and itching.
  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is attracted to the color yellow.
  • “Marmorated” means having a marbled or a streaked appearance.