Seal Leaks To Save Energy And Stem A Stink Bug Invasion

Oct 12, 2010 by

After devastating apple orchards and other fruit and vegetable farms throughout the mid-Atlantic states, stink bugs are staging home invasions. There’s no need to panic; these little brown bugs don’t bite or carry diseases, but they can make your bedroom smell like a locker room. When irritated or crushed, the bugs emit a pungent “sweaty socks” smell.

An example of a typical brown stink bug

Technically known as the brown marmorated stink bug, this pest originated in Asia and was first discovered in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998. Today stink bugs can be found in at least 30 states. Unlike the green stink bugs that are kept in check by birds and other predators, the brown stink bug has no natural enemies, so its population seems to be on the rise.

The Department of Agriculture is experimenting with pheromone-laced traps and other techniques to limit the damage that brown stink bugs wreak on apples, grapes, soybeans and other crops. But this research hasn’t yet spilled over into the residential area, so we can expect these bugs to seek shelter inside when the weather turns cold. Homes in farm areas bear the brunt of these invasions, but experts say that the bugs can show up anywhere.

How to defend against this unwelcome, foul-smelling guest? One of the best ways to keep stink bugs outside is to seal the cracks and gaps that are identified during a home energy audit. That’s right: The same small breaches in the building envelope that cause energy-wasting air leaks also admit insect pests. When energy technicians perform a blower door test, they find it becomes easier to pinpoint these gaps and cracks,  and perform far more proficient air sealing. So here’s another reason to have an energy audit –it helps keep bugs outside.

If you’ve already found brown stink bugs in your house, don’t worry. Just watch where you step, and capture the critters in a bag-type vacuum. Seal the vacuum bag inside a plastic bag before throwing it in the trash. Then call about that energy audit.

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