They certainly lack the great PR ladybugs enjoy — no pretty name, whimsical pattern or usefulness for keeping garden pests at bay — but just like the cute little ladies the Halyomorpha halys loves to snuggle into warm homes when the weather turns cooler.
And they may be coming soon to your abode.
The stink bug invasion well known elsewhere has officially moved into the Hudson Valley with confirmed reports of the six-legged pests finding winter vacation stops in areas throughout Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties, as well as the northwest tip of Westchester, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which is looking for help in tracking the bugs this fall. (See map for more detail.)
"Homeowners will begin seeing them over the next few weeks in larger numbers than last year as they were very successful this season in building populations," said Peter Jentsch, senior extension associate.
Stink bugs, which are brown, black or gray and shaped like a shield, can easily march through cracks, briefly opened doors and windows. They are also attracted to light, so blazing up your home at night may serve as a beacon, experts say. And, as the name suggests, they do emit an odor when squashed, which has been explained as everything from foul to almond- or even cilantro-like.
They snuck in from Asia around 2008 and while harmless to humans and pets have since caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops such as apples, soybeans and peaches. One farmer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania told reporters that they ruined 40 percent of his crop this year. Locally, Jentsch said, the apple and bell pepper crop in the Marlboro Ridge along the Hudson River was affected this year.
There are many schools of thought on how to get rid of them, from dish soap to flushing them down the toilet to applying pesticides to the perimeter of your house.
You can help track the stink bug two ways: following the instructions below for scientists and in the poll/comments to help forewarn your neighbors.
If you see them, send a sample for identification to the Cornell Cooperative Extension to help document its distribution. Place captured specimens in a small plastic container such as a plastic medicine bottle or film canister.
Be sure to fill out the Submission Form and include it with your sample. Provide the complete information listed so we can document the distribution of this insect AND let you know if your sample contained any BMSB (Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.) Live specimens will be added to the research colony being established for the project (we cannot return any samples). Mail samples to:
Attn: Peter Jentsch, BMSB Project
Cornell Hudson Valley Lab
P.O. Box 727
Highland, NY 12528