Once again, seasonal insect invaders are making an ugly appearance in homes around New Hampshire. Although their mass appearance in the fall can be quite traumatic, invading insects are easy to forget about in the winter, only making their presence known again in the spring. Gradually rising temperatures are slowly drawing the insects out of hibernation and setting them to wandering about. The good news is that these insect pests are not dangerous to people, pets, furnishings, or the structure of the home. They are simply an annoyance.
There are five common home invading insects in New Hampshire, but only two resemble stink bugs. Western conifer seed bugs have characteristic wide, flat segments on their hind legs. They are not a stink bugs, but they do release a pungent piney odor when crushed that is quite distasteful.
Brown marmorated stink bugs have distinctive shield-shaped bodies, dark and light banded antennae, and alternating dark and light markings on their hind ends. While they are a serious agricultural pest, they are little more than an odorous nuisance in the home.
One of the best ways to deal with invading insects is to simply pick them up with a tissue, flush them down the toilet, drown them in a jar filled with soapy water, or release them outside. Remember, they can’t bite people so there is little harm in picking them up. If you have an overwhelming number of insects, a better option is sucking them up with a vacuum cleaner – just remember to promptly empty the bag and dispose of it outdoors. Crushed stink bugs smell unpleasant, to say the least, and those that survive the ordeal may crawl back out of the vacuum. Insecticides are not recommended for handling these pests as they work too slowly to control the problem and are toxic to humans.
As outdoor temperatures continue to warm this spring, expect the majority of these insects to disperse and leave your house alone until the fall.
Got questions? The Ask UNH Extension Infoline offers practical help finding answers for your home, yard, and garden questions. Call toll free at 1-877-398-4769, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.