CARSON CITY — A little green bug is causing a big stink in some areas of rural Northern Nevada.
According to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Say’s stink bug is invading yards and fields, with the agency receiving numerous calls about the insect from people in rural areas of Smith Valley, Douglas County, Carson City, the north valleys area of Reno and Pershing County.
“The majority of our calls have been from homeowners on the outskirts of town,” said Jeff Knight, state entomologist at the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Knight said the invasion is a phenomenon that occurs when the woody plants the insects develop on dry up, as they have amid persistent drought and high temperatures this summer.
“This is something that occurs periodically,” Knight said Wednesday. “This just happens to be a pretty high year for it.”
Stink bugs are not new to Nevada. They develop on a weed called tumble mustard that is found in disturbed and burned areas. “As these areas dry up the immature insects will migrate to adjacent greener areas,” Knight said.
He said the bugs don’t usually feed on horticultural plants in yards and flowers. They prefer to feed on developing seeds and may occasionally feed on grain crops, various fruits and potatoes.
While farmers could see damage, for most homeowners the bug is more of a nuisance. As its name suggests, it releases a smelly odor.
“They stink when they’re disturbed,” Knight said. “If you start handling them, sweeping them up, they’ll release the odor,” a smell Knight described as “rather offensive.”
The bugs can be found in high concentrations, sometimes several hundred per square yard. And they become more difficult to control once they become adults.
Adult stink bugs are also good fliers and are highly attracted to lights. If outdoor lighting becomes a stink bug hangout, Knight said homeowners should install amber or yellow light bulbs that are less alluring to the insects.
He also suggested homeowners try using an insecticidal soap and over-the-counter products containing carbaryl to control stink bug numbers.