There is one brown bug experts warn people to keep their eyes peeled for, ones that lurk in flowerbeds, grass, and cracks in the house. It might look harmless, but this pesky insect is known to be a destructive gardener.
Stay alert! If spotted, people should follow these upcoming steps.
It's Just A Tiny Brown Bug
Insects are not always easy to spot, especially if an area is heavily wooded or there are a lot of flowers around. They tend to blend, especially if the bug happens to be tiny and brown.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what experts urge people to keep their eyes out for.
The Body Resembles A Shield
Experts urge people to keep their eyes peeled when outside because a tiny brown bug might be lingering in their yard. With six legs and a body resembling a medieval shield, this bug is unique but still tricky to spot.
Fully grown, they only reach around 0.7 inches long.
Small Does Not Mean Harmless
These brown critters might be tiny, but their small stature does not stop them from wreaking a whole lot of havoc if they go undetected.
That is why people need to be hyper-vigilant because these bugs walk, have wings, and can find themselves in unlikely places -- like a house.
They Will Find Their Way Into The House
These wings are not to be taken lightly. If they feel the need, these bugs will fly up and find their way into a person's house, whether it's the walls, cracks, or even the curtains.
That's why it is so important for people to be aware if they see brown bugs around the yard.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Being hyper-aware of the insects flying around the yard is important, especially when it comes to the Halyomorpha halys, the brown marmorated stink bug.
Yes, it is a horrible name for a horrible bug that wants to do nothing more than infest gardens and homes if they are able to.
It Was Accidently Introduced To The USA In 1998
The brown marmorated stink bug actually originated in Asia, primarily Korea, China, and Japan. It was found in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1998, where scientists believe it was accidentally brought over from its home region.
Sadly, it did not take long for the stink bug to become a huge pest in the Eastern part of the United States.
Max Barclay Has An Idea Of How The Bug Traveled
Backtracking to its origins, though, one expert believes they understand how the invasive stink bug could have made its way across various countries.
The head of the Coleoptera collection at the National History Museum, Max Barclay, believes it all comes down to the bug first finding its way over to the United Kingdom.
He Predicted They'd Arrive Back In 2014
In 2014, Barclay commented, saying he believed the brown marmorated stink bug would make its way from the east to Britain and that it was "only a matter of time."
Well, he was not wrong, as the first stink bug was spotted in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in 2020.
Shipping Crates, Pallets, And Packaging
Sadly, that prediction also came with other bad news -- the stink bugs would come, and they would not leave, establishing themselves quickly.
According to Barclay, "since stink bugs are moving indoors to hibernate during the winter, they will have arrived in shipping crates, pallets, and packaging from global trade."
They Thrive In Warm Weather
These insects do not fare well in cold climates, so they make their way into the shipping crates to sleep through the chilly months, something called "diapause." When the winter months are over, all bets are off.
Stink bugs not only love warm weather, but they tend to thrive in it.
Climate Change Is Helping The Stink Bug Invade New Areas
With the ongoing climate change debate and the Earth getting warmer and warmer each year, humanity could be looking at a major stink bug invasion!
The International Journal of Biometeorology did research, predicting that by the 2010s, the bugs would make their way to Switzerland, making the country a new home.
They Made Their Way To Switzerland
Their research was correct. According to the journal, "In Switzerland, crop damage and increasing populations have been observed since 2017 and related to increasing temperatures."
One of the specialists on the paper, Dr. Tim Haye, is an expert in the stink bug and had a few things to say in relation to the insect and climate.
It Is Bad News For The Swiss People
Working for the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, Dr. Haye knows a think of two about invasive insects, including the stink bug. In the paper, he wrote, "There is strong evidence that climate change is already modifying species."
"It is evident that the number of non-native species will increase and that climate change will promote their establishment. The north-western part of Switzerland could become completely suitable for H. halys."
Higher Altitudes Aren't Safe Either
In the paper, Dr. Haye went on to explain where in Switzerland the stink bugs would infest. He said the insects would head "Southwards, the projected range expansion would reach the foothills of the Alps."
He continued, "And higher latitudes in the alpine valleys could become suitable under future climate conditions. Monitoring the spread and population development in the north-western part of Switzerland, and higher altitudes of the valleys in the south, are recommended."
Infestations Can Reach Into The 1,000s
As the paper suggests, it is only a matter of time before the stink bug population really gets out of hand. So, it is important to keep those eyes peeled for any shield-shaped bug lurking around the yard and house.
There is no need for an infestation of up to 1,000 of these insects.
They Made Their Way From Pennsylvania To North Carolina
In the United States, though, these bugs did not make their way into the country until 1998. They spread from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and even made their way down to Virginia by 2004.
Most recently, stink bugs have made their newest home in North Carolina. But they are not just infesting the eastern seaboard.
25 Years And 44 States Later
Unfortunately, stink bugs have not stuck to the eastern seaboard. They have unfortunately made a lot of moves and have infested a total of 44 out of the 50 states in the United States.
Amazingly, it only took these tiny bugs a short 25 years to hit all of those states.
They Smell Like Cilantro Or Almonds
The stink bug got its name because of the odor it releases. While some say they smell like herbs, namely cilantro, others think they smell like almonds.
Either way, if a person starts smelling either of those items in their garden where none is growing, there is definitely an issue!
There Is No Way To Wipe Out An Invasive Species
Sadly, there is no way to wipe out an invasive species like the stink bug. People can only contain the issue. During an interview with The Guardian, Barclay said, "[The stink bugs] establish [themselves] pretty quickly."
"We've seen this in a lot of invasive species before. You find one or two, and then they are everywhere. The harlequin ladybird from China arrived in [the United Kingdom in] 2006, and now they are enormously abundant."
Solution: Contain The Pest
While there is no long-term solution to terminate stink bugs altogether, people can do a few things to contain the annoying situation.
From plants and crops to the walls and curtains of a house, if any shield-shaped bugs are flying around, keep these tricks in mind.
Solution One: Remove Weeds And Other Obstructions
The first thing a person wants to do if they spot these little brown bugs is to go into the garden and pull out all of the weeds. Stink bugs love to hide within weeds and anything else that will camouflage them.
This means taking away lawn ornaments is also a good idea.
Solution Two: Homemade Repellent
If removing weeds does not do the trick, a homemade bug repellent is a great next step. According to Gardening Know How, the best way to get rid of the unruly stink bugs is to make a homemade repellent made of kaolin clay solution (mineral clay), 15 milliliters of dish soap, and a couple of gallons of water.
Mix it all together, throw it in a spray bottle, and spray it everywhere.
The Mixture Is Harmless To Plants
According to Gardening Know How, stink bugs will not munch on leaves, crops, or even step foot on something sprayed with that mixture. Even better, it also repeals them from laying their eggs!
The mixture is also harmless to plants and crops. Just be sure to rinse fruits and vegetables well with water before consuming.
Solution Three: A "Trap Plant"
Stink bugs are attracted to yellow flowers, such as sunflowers. So, it is a good idea to create a "trap plant" using any yellow flora. This does not mean planting a Venus flytrap near a yellow flower, though!
The idea of of "trap plant" is to guide the stink bugs away from everything else.
Plant The Trap Away From Everything
For a "trap plant" to work, a person is going to want to plant yellow flowers in a different section of the yard, far away from all of the other crops and flowers. This way, the stink bugs will congregate there, away from the garden.
From there, it is up to the person how to handle the bugs.
Next Steps: Disposing Of The Trap Plant
Once the trap is planted and the stink bugs begin to congregate, it is up to the planter to decide what they would like to do. The good news is there are a few options. The first option would be to do nothing and let nature take its course.
This means literally leave the plant alone and let birds and other animals pick off the insects.
Or Dig Up The Plant And Put It In A Plastic Bag
Another option is to wait until numerous stink bugs fin their way to the trap plant. Once that happens, dig up the flower and dispose of it in a plastic garbage bag. Do not throw it away, though -- they will just crawl out!
Instead, place the bag in the sun. The heat will kill the bugs in a few days.
Fruits And Vegetables Are Their Favorite
The thing is, the smell is the least of a person's concerns. These insects are the biggest pests, going straight for the garden.
They love to munch on fruits and vegetables and take out an entire crop if a person is not careful and does not take care of the issue.
$40 Million Worth Of Apples Was Ruined
In 2010 alone, farmers lost around $40 million in apples solely because they did not catch the stink bug infestation in time. Instead of eating down to the core, stink bugs leave a gross-looking brown stain where they eat.
Even worse, they love grapes and can ruin entire wine supplies with their stench.
For a House, Sealants Are Key
When it comes to protecting a house, the method of defense is a bit different. First, it is very important to seal each and every opening there is with a good and reliable sealant.
This way, the stink bugs do not have an opening to creep into and, ultimately, infest the house.
When All Else Fails, Use A Vacuum Cleaner
Sadly, sometimes sealant does not do the trick and stink bugs will get into a home. If this ever happens, there is no need to worry quite yet. The trick is to grab the vacuum cleaner and suck those pesky insects right up!
Just be sure to toss the vacuum bag out as soon as possible, or else their smell will linger.
It Is So Important To Keep An Eye Out For This Insect
Whether it's weeding, a homemade repellent, a trap flower, sealant, or vacuuming, one thing is certain -- no one wants to deal with an invasive species like stink bugs.
It is so important to keep an eye out for this insect, especially before it is too late and the garden or house is infested.
Catnip Works More Than Most Insect Repellants
Although cats love catnip, bugs hate it. In 2001, researchers at Iowa State University compared catnip oil to Diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), found in most store-bought repellents. Catnip oil was ten times more effective at keeping away mosquitoes and roaches than DEET.
The downside? The catnip oil that researchers used was highly concentrated. You'd either need a lot of catnip or the essential oil to keep away bugs. Still, a catnip plant can do wonders for your home.
Clean Out Pests With Baking Soda
Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, is a natural insecticide. When bugs eat the powder, the carbon dioxide inside kills them, according to the EPA. Use it against ants, slugs, beetles, roaches, and other pests.
If you have an ant-covered mound outside, you can sprinkle two cups of baking soda over it. After a while, pour some vinegar on it to finish the job. For roaches, set out an empty coffee can partially filled with baking soda.
How Borax Destroys The Thorax
If you have an ant problem, break out some borax. Borax is a shorter name for sodium tetraborate decahydrate, a compound mined in deserts. The powder is poisonous to bugs when they eat it. Ants will carry borax back to their hive, and it will gradually kill them.
Borax also works against roaches, fleas, beetles, and silverfish. Sprinkling borax where the bugs are should do the trick. Or, you can mix borax with corn starch to create a bug-repelling paste.
Why People Rub Dryer Sheets On Their Arms
An old wives' tale advises people to stick a dryer sheet in their pocket to repel bugs. This tip has some scientific backing. Scientists found that gnats tend to avoid dryer sheets because of their chemical makeup.
Two dryer sheet ingredients, linalool and beta-cintronellol, are toxic to bugs like mosquitoes. However, we don't know if dryer sheets can prevent mosquito bites, but rubbing a dryer sheet on your arms may keep gnats and mites away.
Prevent Bug Bites With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil makes an effective insect repellent, according to a 2018 study in Scientific Reports. For some reason, insects such as ticks and mosquitoes don't like the fatty acids in coconut oil. Researchers say that coconut oil's anti-bug acids are lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid.
Coconut oil is safe to eat and apply topically, and if you rub coconut oil on your skin, it may prevent bug bites. Because it's a thick substance, you may feel oily for a while.
Instant Mashed Potatoes: A Non-Toxic Rat Bait
If you don't want dead mice all over your home, you can try this non-toxic bait. Sprinkle instant mashed potatoes, sometimes called potato flakes, in spots throughout your home. Usually, these flakes expand with water but don't mix them quite yet. Just use the dry flakes.
The mice will eat these flakes, and when they drink water next, the flakes will expand. They will die almost instantly from internal bleeding. No mess and no bloody traps.
Recently, researchers have used cornstarch to fight insects. During their study, the powder worked on termites and plant-eating bugs. Some gardeners swear by cornstarch, claiming that it protects their tomatoes from worms and insects.
Pests don't like the chemicals and smell of it. The fine powder can also suffocate them. Some pesticide companies add cornstarch to their formulas, but you can also sprinkle the powder around your garden and home. You can rub it on your body, but not your face.
Mice Actually Hate Cheese
TV shows tell us that mice will enter a trap if you place cheese there. But a study by Manchester Metropolitan University found that mice actually hate cheese. Because cheese has such a pungent odor, mice would rather eat other animals and even humans.
According to the researchers, mice prefer high-calorie and high-sugar foods that give them more energy. Peanuts, fruit, and bread make ideal mouse trap treats. On the flip-side, you can place cheese in places that you don't want mice to eat.
Stall Ants' Tracks With Chalk
In 2018, a viral Twitter video showed a circle of chalk repelling ants. There's nothing in chalk that ants don't like. Instead, the texture of chalk stops their path, and they have to wander around the drawn area confusingly. It also removes scent trails from the ground.
If you're eating outside, you can draw a chalk circle to ward off ants briefly. It won't last long, but it could save your lemonade. Although insecticidal chalk exists in China, it is illegal in the U.S.
What Do Ants Hate? Cucumber Peels!
Did you know that ants avoid cucumbers? Specifically, they dislike the peels. Cucumber peels have a compound called trans-2-nonenal, which is used in commercial insecticide foams. In simpler terms, it's too bitter for ants.
To get rid of ants, peel a few cucumbers. Find any entrance areas that ants crawl through, such as windows or holes around the door. Wipe the walls or floor with the cucumber skin, and then leave the peel there. You won't find any more ants.
Create A Wormwood Mosquito Barrier
Wormwood is a perennial silvery herb that mosquitoes hate. It has a strong smell and is toxic toward most insect larvae, according to Planta Medica. If you plant a wall of wormwood outside, it may guard against insects.
This only works with common wormwood, or artemisia absinthium. Never rub wormwood against your skin; it could cause irritation or a rash. You can burn wormwood, but know that it has a slight hallucinogenic property. It's best to keep the plant as-is.
Wash Bugs Away With Mouthwash
Although it sounds unlikely, some people swear that mouthwash makes a solid insect repellent. Some brands, such as Listerine, contain repellents such as eucalyptus oil. Although mouthwash hasn't been tested against insects, people still use it.
Before you spray things with mouthwash, dilute it so your area won't smell too minty. Fill a spray bottle with 3/4 mouthwash and 1/4 water. You can spray it around the area's perimeter and furniture legs since it won't disintegrate paint.
Citronella Isn't Effective; Lemon Eucalyptus Is
Although some people advertise citronella oil as an insect repellent, it may not work. Citronella, a naturally occurring oil found in two types of grasses, can only repel insects for a maximum of two hours. And most citronella candles have less than 5% of the oil, making them ineffective.
Instead, use lemon eucalyptus oil, says Eric Hoffer of Hoffer Pest. Lemon eucalyptus stems from the gum eucalyptus tree, and a 30% oil concentration can stave off insects for hours.
For A Nice-Smelling Bug Repellent, Try Lavender Oil
Lavender oil not only smells good; it's a natural insect repellent. Its sweet smell comes from linalool, a compound that bugs don't like, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Studies find that this compound is just as effective-- if not better-- than commercial insecticides.
Before applying lavender oil, dilute it with a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba. Add one drop to every tablespoon of lavender oil. For mosquitoes, combine it with cinnamon or tea tree oil, says Colorado State University.
Spiders Hate Peppermint Oil
Many have found that peppermint essential oil keeps spiders away. Why? We're not really sure. Some people think that since spiders taste with their legs, they stay away from strong-smelling oils.
Whatever the reason, you can use peppermint oil to spray away spiders. Combine water, a splash of dish soap, and five drops of essential oil in a 16-ounce spray bottle. Coat the openings around windows and doors. Apply once a week or every few days as necessary.
Insects Run From Rubbing Alcohol
Just as rubbing alcohol can kill germs, it can also destroy bugs. Many blogs have advertised that rubbing alcohol can prevent bedbugs. However, you have to apply isopropyl alcohol directly to your sheets, which isn't very practical.
You may want to use rubbing alcohol as an insect repellent. If you spray it in a well-ventilated area, bugs won't approach it. It won't work 100% of the time, according to one study. But it may work as a temporary DIY solution.
Use Eucalyptus Oil Against Mice
Eucalyptus essential oil can ward off many critters. According to The Scientific World Journal, eucalyptus oil can repel mites, honeybees, moths, and termites. If used correctly, you can also use this oil against mice.
Drip eucalyptus oil onto cotton balls and place them around the house. You can also dilute it in a carrier oil (such as almond or jojoba oils) and spray the mixture around your home. Reapply it every day, and you may not see pests.
Cinnamon Oil Kills Mosquitoes
A Taiwanese study found that you can kill mosquito larvae with cinnamon oil. As an anti-bacterial, cinnamon essential oil can defeat mites, fungi, and termites as well. It can also keep bugs away from the area.
"We think that cinnamon oil might also affect adult mosquitoes by acting as a repellant," says lead study author Peter Shang-Tzen Chang. Mix two drops of cinnamon oil with lotion or carrier oil before applying it to the skin.