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Master Gardener’s Corner Garden pest: Stink bugs


Published: October 5, 2016 • By: UCCE Colusa County Master Gardeners

Stink bugs are a nuisance, but the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is more than a nuisance. In 2013, large populations were found in Sacramento and Yuba City. Colusa County has not had a confirmed population but it has been found in all surrounding counties. The BMSB is visible in the fall because they are looking for a warm place to overwinter.
Identification
The adult BMSB is a typically-shaped stink but, about 5/8-inch long and marbled brown. It has the following characteristics: The antennae have two white bands; the “nose” is blunt; the legs have faint white bands. All stink bugs stink but this one STINKS.
Life Cycle
In the fall BMSB adults aggregate in large numbers on the sides of buildings or on trees. They then move to protected places (such as your house) and overwinter.
BMSBs are an agricultural, garden, and household pest. They damage many plants including tree fruit, vegetables, shade trees, and legume crops.
Nuisance Pest
In many home landscape situations, the greatest concern may be the movement of BMSB into buildings (such as your house) as they congregate in late summer and early fall.
BMSBs are not harmful to people, houses, or pets. They do not bite, sting, suck blood, or spread diseases. They do not eat or bore into wood structures. Residents may become alarmed when the bugs enter their homes and noisily fly about when lights are on.
Management
Stink bugs are naturally attracted to lights. They will often fly around light posts in large numbers at night; therefore, turn off unnecessary lights.
To trap stink bugs that have come indoors, the most effective and inexpensive method is to place a foil roasting pan filled with some water and a few drops of dish soap, point a light into the pan, and place it in a dark room. Bugs will be attracted to the light and will fall into the water and drown.
If you think you have BMSB take it to the Master Gardener office or the Ag Commissioner’s office. ■

— Contributed by The Master Gardeners of Colusa County. They can be contacted by phone (530) 458-0570, email glhernandez@ucanr.edu, or at the office 100 Sunrise Blvd., Ste. E, Colusa.