Tips from Oregon Department of Agriculture

It’s the annual rite of late autumn. Insects jump at the chance, or more likely crawl, to find safe harbor in homes as the temperatures drop.

For Oregonians, the list of unwanted house guests now includes the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive pest that is a nuisance for residents and a huge economic threat to agriculture.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is beginning to get more calls from homeowners noticing the stink bug. That’s to be expected since the population of the crop-eating bug is increasing and spreading fairly quickly throughout the state.

It appears the exotic stink bug is here to stay in Oregon. The pest has been found in such agricultural production areas as the Willamette Valley and Hood River.

“We believe the initial infestation was in Southeast Portland, but at this point, we have 10 counties we know are infested with the brown marmorated stink bug and another six where it has been reported to be found,” said ODA Entomologist Josh Vlach. “It hasn’t even been a decade since it was first found in Oregon.”

The brown marmorated stink bug is native to Asia and has no natural predators, parasites or diseases in the United States to help control its population.

ODA is the lead regional agency for conducting research on finding a biological control agent to work against the bug, but results may be a few years away.

While the insect has caught the attention of officials because of its potential to damage a wide array of agricultural crops, it is the homeowner this fall and winter who might see more immediate evidence of the brown marmorated stink bug.

“Oregonians might find several hundred coming into their homes, but back east, where the stink bug has become well established in high populations, some homeowners are seeing up to 50,000 of these bugs inside their house,” Vlach said.

As creepy and crawly as the stink bugs may be, they won’t cause harm to humans although, as the name implies, they can release an unpleasant odor when disturbed. The best advice for brown marmorated stink bugs is the same advice for any insect potentially becoming your housemate — keep them out in the first place.

The bugs can easily enter through gaps under and around doors leading outside. They can also wiggle their way through poorly fitting windows, dryer vents and other points of access into a residence.

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