stink bug and elder bug invasion

Asked February 8, 2017, 1:32 PM EST

how can I get rid of the stink bugs and elder bugs that are clumping up on out buildings?

Pike County Kentucky

1 Response

This web page contains information about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys ) in Kentucky. The first findings were reported in October 2010. If you suspect that this insect is present in an area not marked on the map, please take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension office or sent it to the UK Department of Entomology, S-225 Ag Science North, Lexington, KY 40546-0091

Counties known to have brown mamorated stink bugs: 2015 (dark green) Hardin; 2014 (light purple) Warren; 2014 (light green) Anderson, Breckinridge, Christian, Clark, Jessamine, Nelson and Powell; 2013 (blue) - Breathitt, Boyle, Campbell, Daviess, Franklin, Garrard, Grant, Henderson, Jackson, Laurel, McCreary, Madison, Martin, Montgomery, Perry, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Scott, Shelby, Taylor, and Trigg; 2012 (yellow) - Bell, Boone, Harlan, Henry, Johnson, Kenton, Letcher, Magoffin, Mason, Oldham, Pike, and Whitley; 2011 (orange) - Floyd, Lewis; 2010 (brown) - Boyd, Carter, Fayette, Greenup, Jefferson, Lawrence, and Rowan

BMSM known occurrence

Identifying the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

brown marmorated stink bug

(Picture from Rutgers - New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station)

The brown marmorated stink bug has the characteristic shield-shaped stink bug body. The adults (with wings) are approximately 5/8 inch long with a mottled brown-grey body. The next to last (4th) segment of each antenna has a white band. Edges of the abdominal segments that extend laterally from under the wings are alternatively banded with black and white. The underside of the body is white to light gray with grey or black markings, and the legs are brown with faint white bands.

BMSB Look-Alikes

These brown bugs can show up at homes and structures (left to right - leaf footed bug, spined soldier bug, and brown stink bug). The leaf footed bug has distinct flat areas on the hind legs. The brown stink bug does not have expanded edges of the abdomen with black and white bands. The spined soldier bug has a distinct sharp spine on each "shoulder" and a short dark band on the wing tips that extend beyond the end of the abdomen.

leaf footed bug brown stink bug spined soldier bug

Potential Impact in Kentucky

  • Fall Accidental Invader - The BMSB ultimately can cause pose problems for all Kentuckians, similar to that of the multicolored Asian lady beetle, a familiar fall sight in many homes and buildngs. Adults are attracted to homes and structures in the fall as they move to protected overwintering sites. Large numbers may enter through cracks and crevices. These insects produce a stain and unpleasant order when mashed. They will leave protected sites in the spring to resume their life cycle.
  • Plant damage - BMSB feeds on the sap of a wide range of plants including fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and some field crops. Significant losses to the insect have been reported from apple and peach orchards, blackberry, field and sweet corn, tomatoes, lima beans, and green peppers from other states.

Management For BMSB In Homes and Structures

Before Stink Bugs Enter a Building

Mechanical exclusion is the best method to keep stink bugs from entering. Cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath the wood fascia and other openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Damaged screens on doors and windows should be repaired or replaced.

Exterior applications of insecticides, may offer some minor relief from infestations where the task of completely sealing the exterior is difficult or impossible. Homeowner products containing the active ingredients deltamethrin, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, or permethrin are options. They shoud be applied in the fall as the bugs begin to congregate. These insecticides are broken down by sunlight so the residual effect will decrease and may not kill the insects much beyond several days or a week.

After Stink Bugs Enter a Building

If numerous bugs are entering the living areas of the home, attempt to locate the openings where the insects gain access. Typically, stink bugs will emerge from cracks under or behind baseboards, around window and door trim, and around exhaust fans or lights in ceilings. Seal these openings with caulk or other suitable materials to prevent the insects from crawling out. Both live and dead stink bugs 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.

It is not advisable to use an insecticide inside after the insects have gained access to the wall voids or attic areas. Although insecticidal dust treatments to these voids may kill hundreds of bugs, there is the possibility that carpet beetles will feed on the dead stink bugs and subsequently attack woolens, stored dry goods or other natural products in the home. Although aerosol-type pyrethrum foggers will kill stink bugs that have amassed on ceilings and walls in living areas, it will not prevent more of the insects from emerging shortly after the room is aerated. For this reason use of these materials is not considered a good solution to long-term management of the problem. Spray insecticides, directed into cracks and crevices, will not prevent the bugs from emerging and is not a viable or recommended treatment.

Brief History in US

The BMSB, native to China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, was first collected in September 1998 in Allentown, PA but is suspected to have arrived several years earlier. It is an agriculturial pest in that area. It has been detected in localities in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia

The BMSB is not a regulated pest so there is no quarantine program to limit its movement.

Modified from information written by Steve Jacobs, Senior Extension Associate, Pennsylvania State Univ.



Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist

According to a statewide poll of Kentucky householders, 93%

expressed concern over finding insects within their home.

More than half indicated that a single cockroach, cricket, or

spider would prompt them to use a can of bug spray or call an

exterminator. Despite their "high-profile" presence within the

home, most pests encountered indoors have either flown or

crawled in from outdoors.

One of the best ways to limit unwanted intrusions by insects,

rodents, birds, squirrels and other pests is to deny them entry

-- a procedure known as pest proofing. Many pests seek refuge

in homes and other buildings in response to changes in

weather, such as extended periods of rain or drought, or the

onset of cooler temperatures in autumn. Taking steps to block

their entry before they end up inside can greatly reduce the

chances of future sightings.

Outlined below are six useful tips for pest proofing one's home

or place of business. Steps 1-3 will also conserve energy and

increase the comfort level during summer and winter.

Equipment and materials mentioned can be purchased at most

home improvement or hardware stores.

1. Install door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all

exterior entry doors. While lying on the floor, check for

light filtering under doors. Gaps of 1/16 inch or less will

permit entry of insects and spiders; 1/4 inch-wide gaps (the

diameter of a pencil) are large enough for entry of mice;

1/2 inch gaps are adequate for rats. Pay particular attention

to the bottom corners as this is often where rodents and

insects enter.

Apply caulk (see #3 below) along bottom outside edge and

sides of door thresholds to exclude ants and other small

insects. Garage doors should be fitted with a bottom seal

constructed of rubber (vinyl seals poorly in cold weather).

Gaps under sliding glass doors can be sealed by lining the

bottom track with 1/2 to 3/4 inch-wide foam


2. Seal utility openings where pipes and wires enter the

foundation and siding, e.g., around outdoor faucets,

receptacles, gas meters, clothes dryer vents, and

telephone/cable TV wires. These are common entry points

for such pests as rodents, ants, spiders and yellowjackets.

Holes can be plugged with caulk, cement, urethane

expandable foam, steel wool, copper mesh (Stuffit®), or

other suitable sealant.

3. Caulk cracks around windows, doors, fascia boards,

etc. Use a good quality silicone or acrylic latex caulk.

Although somewhat less flexible than pure silicone, latextype

caulks clean up easily with water and are paintable.

Caulks that dry clear are often easier to use than pigmented

caulks since they don't show mistakes.

Buy a good caulking gun. Features to look for include a

back-off trigger to halt the flow of caulk when desired, a

built-in "slicer" for cutting the tip off of new caulking

tubes, and a nail for puncturing the seal within. (Hardware

stores sell guns with these features for less than $10.00.)

Prior to sealing, cracks should be cleaned and any peeling

caulk removed to aid adhesion. For a professional look,

smooth the bead of caulk after application with a damp rag

or a moistened finger.

4. Repair gaps and tears in window and door screens.

Doing so will help reduce entry of flies, gnats, mosquitoes

and midges during summer, and cluster flies, lady beetles,

and other overwintering pests in early fall. Certain insects,

in particular leafhoppers and hackberry psyllids, are small

enough to fit through standard mesh window screen. The

only way to deny entry to these tiny insects is to keep

windows closed during periods of adult emergence.

5. Install 1/4-inch wire mesh (hardware cloth) over attic,

roof, and crawl space vents in order to prevent entry of

birds, bats, squirrels, rodents, and other wildlife. Be sure to

wear gloves when cutting and installing hardware cloth, as

the wire edges are razor sharp. Invest in a chimney cap to

exclude birds, squirrels, raccoons and other nuisance


6. Consider applying an exterior (barrier) treatment with

insecticides. While sealing is the more permanent way to

exclude pests originating from outdoors, comprehensive

pest-proofing is labor-intensive and sometimes impractical.

For clients requiring an alternative, pest proofing can be

supplemented by an exterior treatment with an insecticide.

Homeowners will get the most for their efforts by applying

longer-lasting liquid formulations containing synthetic

pyrethroids such as Spectracide Triazicide, Ortho Home

Defense and Bayer Advanced Multi-Insect Killer stocked

by some hardware/lawn and garden shops.

Using a compressed air or hose end sprayer, treat at the

base of all exterior doors, garage and crawl space

entrances, around foundation vents and utility openings,

and up underneath siding. It may also be useful to treat

around the outside perimeter of the foundation in a 2 to 6-

foot-wide band along the ground, and 2-3 feet up the

foundation wall.

Clients who choose not to tackle these activities may wish to

hire a professional pest control firm. Many firms are beginning

to offer pest proofing as an adjunct to other services. When all

else fails, a vacuum cleaner or broom is often the best response

to the occasional bug that wanders in from outdoors.