Stinkbugs returning to hibernate

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The return of stinkbugs this fall can feel like dealing with a zombie horde.


“Their behavior switches, and they no longer want to mate or feed, so they cluster and get into this hive-like behavior, where all they care about is getting inside your house and getting to someplace warm to hibernate,” said Stephanie Cates, director of communications for RESCUE! bug traps.


Cates, originally from Upper St. Clair, said her company spent the past decade studying the smelly pests and how best to eradicate them.


“This is the last call to prevent hundreds of them from getting inside,” she said, “and the window for them to get inside is mid-August through mid-September. After that, you’re dealing with an infestation.”


Traps, according to Cates and a local hardware store, are the best prevention tool suited for outside placement. If it’s too late, sprays are your best option.


“I prefer the spray,” said Andie Patton, lawn and garden sales associate at Miller’s Ace Hardware in McMurray. “Within a half hour usually, they’re dead in their tracks. And of course you have cleanup, but it’s the most obvious way that you can see it’s working.”


For those with chemical allergies or sensitivities, there are lights and lamps, as well.


“These are good for early on and in the spring, but if you’ve got hundreds on the walls or outside, this isn’t going to make much of a dent,” Patton said.


Regardless of what tool a homeowner uses, the winter season must pass before any impact is made on the population.


“Right now, you’re just killing what bugs are already out there – in terms of prevention, it’s just preventing them from getting inside. But if you want to put a hit into the numbers near your house, you need to go after them in the spring,” Cates said. “That’s when they’re breeding, and each female bug represents potentially hundreds more. Each female can lay 400 eggs.”


The brown marmorated stinkbug is an invasive species to Pennsylvania, first reported in the late 1990s in Allentown. According to Cates, stinkbugs have no natural predators to control their population.


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