Stink bug population exploding in Massachusetts

Stink bugs come from thousands of miles away and now their populations are exploding in Massachusetts.

Boston 25 News first told you about the brown marmorated stink bug in 2012 when scientists in Portsmouth noticed they had made their way into New Hampshire. The theory was they first came into the United States through Pennsylvania on cargo ships carrying cars manufactured in Asia. Now, they're in at least 44 states, including Massachusetts.

"Wooden pallets from China are being transported by the millions across the ocean so they came here in one way or another," said UMass Amherst professor Joe Elkinton.

The bugs are aptly named because they secrete a pungent smell and have a shield-like shape.

This is the time of year when they migrate into homes and when stink bugs find a suitable spot for hibernation, they release a pheromone that attracts their fellow stink bugs to the home.

The best way to prevent them from entering your home is sealing up any crevices.

"Make sure you have screens on your windows and don't leave your doors open," said Elkinton.
With no natural enemies, stink bugs can pose a real threat to local crops, specifically peaches and apples, but they also can impact people.

If you're sensitive to their odor, stink bugs may cause allergic reactions and if you squash them with your bare hands, in rare cases, they've caused contact dermatitis.

"Yes, there are cases where stink bugs cause allergies. There are many things in this world that cause allergies," said Elkinton.

If you're trying to get rid of stink bugs, experts say you can either flush them down the toilet or you can vacuum them, but make sure you throw out the vacuum bag to avoid the odor.

>> Stink bugs are back; here's how to keep the pests out of your home