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Stinky Houseguests

~A note from Larry Dapsis, Extension’s County Entomologist

I was approaching my front door recently and noticed a group of western conifer seed bugs, a relative of stink bugs by my front door. It reminded me that fall is when a number of insects choose our homes as an overwintering resort…they don’t know the difference between bark on a tree or the shingle on the side of a house. Once inside they stay out of site and are inactive but at some point they wake up…January/February is when I get calls from people who are seeing these slow moving bugs on their window sill. To remove them just grab them by the antennae since, like stink bugs, they have an oil gland on their sides which they use for defense.

Western Conifer Seed Bug
Brown marmorated stink bug.

Stink bugs basically do the same thing…entering houses during the fall and becoming active later on. We have a new one on the Cape…brown marmorated stink bug. I started finding it on the Cape eight years ago. They were first found in 1998 in Pennsylvania. As with many invasive species they have no natural enemies so populations can get very large. As a home invader people have found upwards of 30,000 in their attics. They vacuum them up but unfortunately the vacuum cleaners smell like stink bug for a long time.

Other potential housemates include crickets, ladybird beetles, and cluster flies. and wolf spiders. The good news is that deer ticks do not look to come indoors in the fall. The best way to discourage home invaders is to seal up around windows and door jambs but also think about air conditioners and dryer vents.

If you have any questions about what’s crawling around your yard or home, feel free to reach out to me at ldapsis@capecod.gov or submit your questions at my website, www.capecod.gov/bugs. Feel free to attach a video or picture file!