There are lots of insects that look for nice warm places to overwinter. Unfortunately, some of them find your home to be the ideal place to send the long New England winter. Two of the bugs we are seeing more of are the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and the Western Conifer Seed Bug. While neither of them is harmful to humans or pets, both can emit unpleasant odors if disturbed and/or crushed.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)
This is a recently introduced invasive species of pest here in Massachusetts. It is characterized by being shield-shaped and typically between 5/8 and 3/4 inches long. It has a marbled or mottled brown appearance, hence the name. It is a pest mainly in orchards or farms and becomes a nuisance in the fall and winter as it tries to enter homes to seek shelter and warmth.
There is little stink bug control that can be done around homes at this time. As in most cases, the best pest management is prevention. Making sure there are no gaps around doors and windows is the best way to keep them out of your home. Also make sure to repair or replace damaged screens. Any that do get in you can simply vacuum up and then dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag. While not poisonous, if your dog swallows one, they may drool excessively for up to 12 hours due to chemicals in the bug’s body.
Western Conifer Seed Bug
This insect is native to areas west of the Rockies but has recently been expanding its range. It is now found in most New England states. As the name suggests, this is a pest of seeds of conifer trees. It could be considered a look-alike to the BMSB except that while it is shield shaped, it is much more elongated in the body and the antennae lack the prominent white stripes of the BMSB. It is also “leaf-footed” in that there are flares on the lower legs that look like leaves.
Pest control measures are focused mainly on the forest trees that they can damage so there is no chemical control to keep them out of homes.
Not unlike the ladybug, these two insects will be with us for the foreseeable future. Keeping them out of your house will be the greatest challenge.
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