Another fall pest for Texas homes?

An aggregation of brown marmorated stink bugs outside a window. These kinds of invasions are not uncommon in states where this bug has become established. Photo by Leske, 2010.  (not from Texas)

The brown marmorated stink bug is the latest in a string of unwelcome foreign pests that want to share our homes during the winter months.  A couple of weeks ago I posted a description of the hackberry nipplegall maker, which is a native insect pest that enters homes in the fall.  The brown marmorated stink bug (let’s call it BMSB) is from Asia and has been settling into its new home in the eastern U.S. since it was first noticed in Pennsylvania in 1998.  It was spotted in south Texas one year ago, and hasn’t reappeared since.

According to a recent A&M AgriLife news release, homeowners, ag producers and professionals alike are encouraged to keep alert for these bugs.  Besides being a nuisance in homes, where they seek shelter in the fall, the BMSB is a likely pest on pecans, tomatoes, peppers, beans, fruit trees and other crops.  They readily hitchhike in vehicles from infested states.  In fact, the one Texas sighting came when a Corpus Christi resident noticed bunches of the bugs hiding out in his travel trailer after a trip to Pennsylvania.

How to modify your vacuum cleaner to safely suck up lady beetles and other pests you which to release outdoors. Insert a nylon stocking into the nozzle tip or flexible hose of a vacuum and secure it with a rubber band. When finished vacuuming simply pull out the stocking and release the insects outdoors (away from your home). Another option is to insert a stocking, with both ends open, into the long tube to soften the impact of beetles on the intake tube walls and keep the suction tube clean. The stocking used to catch the beetles is then secured inside the flexible hose to catch the beetles before they enter the vacuum engine.

The BMSB joins several other foreign insects like the multicolored Asian lady beetle and the kudzu bug (not yet in Texas) that like to invade homes in the cooler months.  Over the past few weeks I’ve had several calls about what appears to be a better than usual year for lady beetle invasions.

The best solution for unwanted fall invader insects is your vacuum cleaner.  Sprays that kill large aggregations of insects indoors or in attics may result in odors from masses of the decaying pests.  A vacuum allows you to remove (and even preserve, if desired) the unwanted pests and dispose of them outside the home. Remember to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag after use, or use a capture method like the one illustrated here.


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