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There are brown bugs that have been coming in my house lately that look like they have shields on their backs; what in the world are they? Jill, Ledyard

Answer

What you have is called a "Stink Bug" or "Shield Bug". Stink Bugs, which are native to China, Japan and Korea, first showed up in this country in the late 1990s in the Philadelphia area and since then have spread across the US. Adult Stink Bugs are about 3/4" long and have a broad body that protects them from predators, hence their other name, "Shield Bugs". While Stink Bugs can't sting or bite, they can produce a terrible smelling liquid from their bodies as a defense mechanism when they are threatened. Kristin, one of our landscape designers, had a Stink Bug on her shirt and after she brushed it off, there was a permanent odor that couldn't be washed out of her clothing.

Stink Bugs hibernate in the winter and look for places where they can stay warm, which is why you often see them, sometimes in great numbers, in your house. They can enter your house through small cracks and crevices, around window air conditioners and doors. When one Stink Bug finds a nice, warm spot it sends out a pheromone that attracts others to the same spot. That's why you can often see many of them. They will not lay their eggs inside during the winter, so if you see a lot of them, they all crawled in!

Although they are becoming an agricultural pest to fruit trees and other plants, they do not cause any structural or even cosmetic damage to your home. Unfortunately, there is no good strategy to control them; insecticides have a temporary effect. The best approach is to seal up those cracks and keep them out in the first place.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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