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The brown marmorated stink bug is seen on an apple, a fruit that it likes to eat. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/John Obermeyer)
Stink bug invasion a smell problem for homeowners

Posted on Oct. 9, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 9, 2013 at 9:55 a.m.

ELKHART — As the weather turns colder, a swarm of uninvited house guests are searching for a warm place to spend the winter.

The brown marmorated stink bug, also known as the East Asian stink bug, is showing up in many Elkhart County area homes.

According to a report from the Purdue University News Service, the first sighting of the brown marmorated stink bug in Indiana was in October 2010 in Elkhart County.

While stink bugs won’t damage a home, they can be a nuisance and release a smelly chemical when disturbed.

Roger Shipley has owned R.S. Pest Control in Goshen for 33 years and said this year has been the business’ busiest year for stink bug infestations.

“We had a few calls last year,” he said. “The marmorated stink bug is not native to the U.S. The first sign of them was in Pennsylvania in the late ’90s and we’ve been seeing more and more each year. This year has been the worst and the most calls generated.”

“Last week we were inundated with (calls),” Shipley said. “We had about 20 of them.”

Some of the worst cases he saw were homes in Granger in which homeowners were encountering 30 stink bugs a day.

“Some people can put up with five or six (stink bugs) a day, but 20 or 30 in a day is a lot,” he said.

Shipley said last week’s warm weather, with high temperatures in the 80s, made the bugs more active. Cooler temperatures this week have slowed down both the bugs and the calls.

The average cost to treat a home for stink bugs is between $150 and $250, he said.

To treat an infestation in a home, Shipley said he sprays an insecticide on the house’s eaves, any cracks in the foundation and around all windows and doors. Inside the home, he sprays around windows, doors, fireplaces and any other entry points he can find.

“Every house is a little different as far as the entry points,” he said.

If a homeowner finds the smelly insects in the house, the best way to remove them is to suck them up in a vacuum cleaner and immediately dispose of the vacuum bag, which will start to stink.

“When they’re stressed is when they secrete (the odor),” Shipley said. “A vacuum cleaner would be pretty stressful on them.”

The best way to prevent a stink bug problem is to block off their entry points to the house. Shipley recommends checking all window and door seals as well as screens on dryer vents and fireplaces to ensure there are no holes large enough for bugs to crawl through.