DALLAS — The biggest pests in Washington, D.C. this fall may not be politicians. According to a national survey from HomeTeam Pest Defense, Washingtonians have more problems with stink bugs than any other region of the country. Fifty-nine percent of metro residents say they've experienced a problem with these smelly pests, compared to the national average of 21 percent.
Bolstering the stink bug 2012 campaign to invade homes this fall, the unusually warm winter, early spring and summer heat wave may cause the stinky pest to reproduce more and live longer.
"Stink bugs begin to move indoors in late September and early October," said Russ Horton, entomologist and national technical director for HomeTeam Pest Defense in Dallas. "They go into hibernation during winter and emerge in early spring."
The appearance of stink bugs creates a nuisance for homeowners. Hundreds of stink bugs could be seeking refuge in your home in the next couple of months. Stink bugs cause no harm to humans, but their defense mechanism against predators (and the humans they have often been living with) is to emit a pungent smell through glands on the sides and undersides of their bodies when disturbed.
With an abundance of stink bugs ready for invasion like a bad political ad, Republicans, Democrats and Independents should prepare their homes now. HomeTeam recommends sealing potential entry points, like cracks and crevices in doors, windows and siding, to prevent stink bugs from entering a dwelling.
Brown marmorated stink bugs (the variety common in Washington, D.C.) are slightly smaller than the size of a dime and are identified by their shield-like shape and brown color. They first arrived on the Northeast coast of the United States nearly 15 years ago, presumably from Asia. During the warmer months stink bugs feed on flowers and trees, or "just about any plants they can get their mouths on," says Horton.
Scientists are currently looking for biological ways to control stink bug populations. The best method is to keep them outdoors, but if you find them indoors, vacuum them and discard the bag. Some infestations may require the help of a pest control professional.
HomeTeam's survey also discovered that more Washingtonians know that stink bugs stink when they are crushed than the rest of the country, and over half think stink bugs are disgusting. Nearly two-thirds of Washingtonians said they would have reservations about buying a house that has stink bugs. Overall, 80 percent of Washingtonians said they are concerned about pests in their home, and 82 percent of them experienced pest problems in the last 12 months.