Stink Bugs Invade Homes, Are Called Menace to Agriculture

VIDEO: Bugs are homeowners nuisance, menace to
WATCH What to Do About Stink Bugs at Home

It's spring and that means the stink bugs are back, invading homes with their peculiar odor.

Stink bugs are invasive insects from Asia that first were spotted in Pennsylvania in the mid 1990s.

Entomologists say the brown marmorated stink bug is now in 33 states. And this year they expect them to turn up in other places.

Tips for fighting stink bugs in your home

Doug Inkley uses a vacuum cleaner to hunt the stink bugs that invaded his Maryland house by the thousands.

"Good Morning America" visited Inkley, and Mike Raupp -- an entomologist from the University of Maryland -- met us there.

Attic Hideaway: 8,000 Bugs in Single Day

With sick fascination, Inkley counts the stink bugs as he vacuums them up.

"Here I work for the National Wildlife Federation as a senior scientist and I work on this issue of invasive species, and my home has become an example of the huge problem of invasive species," Inkley said.

He's gone through 30 tubes of caulk for cracks and spent $10,000 on new windows. And still, they are everywhere.

"I wear a night guard at night, and I didn't realize one was on my night guard, and I put it in my mouth. And closed down on it," he said.

Inkley dares us to crawl into the eaves of his attic where he once found 8,000 stink bugs in a single day.

When we peel back the insulation, we find lots of bugs.

Raupp collects dozens of live stink bugs for his research colony. Entomologists are searching feverishly for creative solutions such as stink bug birth control.

Raupp told "GMA" that stink bugs don't hurt people.

"You know they don't bite," Raupp said of the bugs. "I've handled thousands of these things. Never been bitten."

Bugs Are Menacing Agricultural Pests

But they do suck -- suck the juice out of plants, that is. Inkley can't grow tomatoes in his garden anymore. Researchers say stink bugs are the most menacing agricultural pests in 40 years.

"When it's finished feeding outside, guess what, it's coming into your house. So this is an invasive pest that will touch everybody," Raupp said.

And you will smell them coming. Raupp has devised an experiment just for us.

He uses a blow-dryer on the bugs, warming them so they'll release their scent.

At first the smell isn't that strong. So we decide to blow-dry the bugs some more.

The smell is too much for us.

And poor Dough Inkley lives with these pests 24/7. Because he's a biologist, he's been keeping tally.

"The grand total, as of day 97, is 21,965 stink bugs collected from inside my home," he said.

One house, 21,965 stink bugs, just since the beginning of the year.

Tips for Fighting Stink Bugs

The brown marmorated stink bug is a fearsome agricultural menace and a disgusting home nuisance. The shield-shaped insects suck the juice out of fruits, vegetables and house plants and congregate on window sills in alarming numbers.

If you have stink bugs in your home, unfortunately, insect experts do not have a "magic bullet" that will solve your problem. Entomologists are working to come up with creative solutions. A couple of possibilities: They may be able to engineer a form of stink bug "birth control." There also has been talk of introducing predators, like hornets that will consume stink bugs.

However, none of those efforts is well-developed yet, so here are some intermediate steps you can take to try to control the stink bugs in your home:

Vacuum up stink bugs. They will release their scent when you do this, so you should empty your vacuum bag often. They also can live for a few days in your vacuum canister, so you may want to tape the hose end shut so they don't crawl back out.

Caulk cracks. Stink bugs can flatten themselves down to a very narrow profile in order to wiggle through the smallest household cracks and get inside your home. Caulking all cracks helps and is good for energy savings, as well.

Use window screening. You can cover ridge vents and other necessary openings in your home with window screening so there is still air circulation, but so that stink bugs cannot get in. Consult a knowledgeable contractor to make sure the screening won't cause any harm.

Treat your attic? Stink bugs like attics. Some pest control contractors are experimenting with setting off pesticide "bombs" in these uninhabited spaces, but you should know that studies have shown stink bugs have the bizarre ability to appear dead from pesticides and then come back to life a few days later.

Use insecticidal soap. Making your vegetable garden and house plants unpalatable to stink bugs may help. Insecticidal soap sprays are available at nurseries and less toxic than full-fledged pesticides.

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