Let’s talk about Michigan stink bugs: Why are they here? What should you do about it?

Invasive species found all over Michigan

They’re here. Stink bugs. Crawling out of their hiding spaces and into view. Ugh.

There’s good news and bad news about seeing stink bugs this time of year. The good news is they’re on their way out of your house -- the bad news is they’ve been there all winter. Gross.

So far I’ve washed one down the sink, released one into the yard and sucked a third up into a vacuum. That is not how you’re supposed to handle stink bugs, but I panic around certain bugs. Panic is something you’re not supposed to do, according to Michigan State University.

So, what should you do? MSU say the first step is “try not to panic.” I already failed that step. What’s next? You should look for gaps around window air conditioners or holes in window screens. Block those off. Anything that could serve as an easy access point for stink bugs should be closed off.

After you’ve secured your home, the next thing you should do if you find a stink bug is drown it. If you’re like me, it’s not an ideal option, but marmorated stink bugs are invasive. MSU says to use soapy water in a bucket and drop them in. The soap prevents them from escaping. After they’re dead you can dump them outside.

What even is a stink bug? How do you ID it?

Now that we’ve covered what to do if you find a stink bug (drown it!) -- here’s what a stink bug actually is.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a 0.5-0.625-inch shield-shaped insect that uses its piercing mouthparts to suck plant juices from fruits, seed pods and nuts on many plants.

It’s scientific name is Halyomorpha halys. Below is a graphic that will help you identify it.

The brown marmorated stink bug. (Michigan State University)

First stink bug detected in Michigan in 2010

It was accidentally brought to North America from Asia in 1996. It was first detected in Michigan in 2010 and is now a major pest for farmers.

Stink bugs have been since been found in all Michigan counties but is well established in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula.

Got stink bugs in your home?

The good news is stink bugs will not cause structural damage or reproduce in homes. They also do not bite people or pets.

They are not known to transmit disease or cause physical harm but they have their name for a reason -- they produce a pungent chemical that -- well, it stinks.

MSU suggests making sure your home is secure. If bugs are still getting in, you can caulk around outlet and switch boxes, ceiling fixtures, heat ducts and other openings in interior walls. That could help keep them out of your living space.

You can sweep them up or vacuum them up once they’re inside. MSU suggests using an older vacuum, maybe not your usual one, as they can stink up a vacuum.

It might also help to spray a pesticide on the outside walls of your home, especially the south and west facing walls in September and October.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.