Big, bulky, and annoying are three words that often come to mind when mentioning stink bugs. They can be found in many different regions in the United States and Canada.
Despite being built like tanks, these critters are quite fast and can enter your house through cracked doors, broken screens, and open windows. But how do they get inside? Can stink bugs fly? Can they jump? Let’s find out.
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Stink Bugs 101
Stink bugs are large insects with shield-shaped bodies that belong to the Pentatomidae family. Typically, they’re brown, but can also be green or gray. There are more than 4,700 known species of stink bugs. An invasive species, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is perhaps the most common home invader.
Not only are stink bugs generally annoying, they’re also considered agricultural pests. A swarm of stink bugs can cause major damage to crops, fruit trees, and ornamental plants.
However, the most distinguishing feature of stink bugs is the offensive odor they release when threatened, which is reminiscent of cilantro or coriander. This smell is produced by a defensive gland under their thorax. While generally harmless, the chemicals released are known to cause allergic reactions in some sensitive individuals.
Because of the foul odor produced when one’s crushed, stink bugs are commonly confused with boxelder bugs.
Do Stink Bugs Fly?
Adult stink bugs can fly fairly well, although they’re not exactly graceful. In fact, they seem to fly in a random pattern, landing by smacking into surfaces such as light fixtures and walls.
Where they excel is in distance, with a few specimens of H. halys making it nearly 73 miles!
They have two pairs of wings, with the forewings being hardened into partial covers called hemelytra. Beetles, such as the Asian lady beetle, have full elytra.
Flying is an important mode of travel for these bugs as they often search for food sources, shelter, and mates.
Do Stink Bugs Jump?
Stink bugs simply aren’t built for jumping. However, it’s not uncommon for them to spread their wings and fly a few inches to get from one surface to another. The sudden movement can sometimes look like they’re hopping.
What Does a Stink Bug Sound Like?
Stink bugs generally don’t invade your home looking for food. However, once inside, they can become extremely annoying.
When at rest or trundling around, they’re quite silent. It’s when they spread their wings that the noise begins.
Here’s what a stink bug sounds like when in flight:
Do Stink Bugs Fly at Night?
Marmorated stink bug adults like to sneak indoors in order to survive the cold winter months.
They can enter any crack or hole in the house and hibernate in the new space, waiting for warmer weather.
Be careful opening doors at night if you’ve noticed stink bugs hanging out around. Like moths and other insects, they’re attracted to light and can easily fly through open windows or doors into lit rooms.
Dealing with Stink Bugs
If you’re only dealing with one or two stink bugs, it’s easy to coax them onto a piece of paper or cardboard and usher them outside. Cats and dogs will sometimes play with one, which may end up in eating the bug.
This isn’t harmful, although you may wish to avoid their breath for a while. Chances are, your four-legged friend won’t try to snack on another one during play.
Of course, if you’re an orchard or crop owner, there’s more reason to worry about these pests. Don’t be afraid to contact a pest control company before these critters can do any major damage to your crops.
Some Final Notes
While a flying stink bug may be annoying to most of us, scientists have spent a lot of time studying their erratic flight patterns with interest. Understanding how they get around may one day help in population control.
In the meantime, you can avoid them bumbling into things by shutting off external lights when not in use and making sure any lit windows are properly screened.