Lights out, stink bugs in

Last fall Carol Coleman couldn’t open the front door to let her dogs out because thousands of stink bugs were blanketing it.

“It was terrifying to see thousands of bugs packed together trying to get inside my house,” she recalls from her home in Kennett Square, Pa. “I had to call for help because my dogs and I were trapped.”

Coleman resorted to pesticides, but the stink bugs resisted and still got indoors to overwinter with hundreds appearing again in spring to munch and mate and mow down her garden.

Declaring war, she switched tactics and placed several stink bug traps around her home this summer. “I’m catching as many as I can outside before fall,” she says. “And I’m setting up indoor traps throughout my attic and basement ready to catch and kill them. This is bug war!”

Coleman’s case may be extreme, but she’s not alone in battling stink bugs hiding in attics, crawling up curtains, dive-bombing the dinner table and ruining gardens.

If you think you’re safe, beware. Researchers predict that if one out of 10 homes had stink bugs last year, nine in 10 homes could have them this season. According to Dr. Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, adult stink bugs are moving inside and looking for places to spend the winter.

“Now is the time to fight stink bugs,” says Rod Schneidmiller, president of Sterling International, developer of the RESCUE! Stink Bug Traps. “Whether you use a homemade trap or one of ours, do something this fall to break the cycle and reduce their numbers.”

By Halloween, most stink bugs will have moved inside to hibernate. Experts say a good indoor stink bug trap with an LED light works best to attract stink bugs indoors.

To prevent stink bugs from taking over your home this winter, follow these tips from the pros:

* Seal up your castle. The first line of defense is to close your windows and doors, and seal up any openings where the bugs can enter. They can flatten out and slip through the cracks to hide in your house for winter.

* Create a barrier outdoors. Outdoors stink bugs are attracted to scent. Indoors they move to light. Place traps on porches, posts and trees around your home. New traps on the market catch both young and adult stink bugs with a pheromone attractant that lures them from up to 30 feet away. Coleman says she placed her traps around her home and near her garden and is “catching stink bugs by the hundreds.”

* Check traps frequently. Make certain your traps are catching stink bugs. If not, move them to another spot. “Be vigilant,” says Doug Oster, author of Grow Organic. “You have to out-smart them.”

* Pick them off. When you see them on your plants, deck or curtains, pick them off with a tissue, drop in a cup of soapy water and flush down the toilet. Do not release outside. “These aren’t lady bugs,” says Oster. “A dead stink bug is the only good stink bug.”

* Seek and destroy them indoors. Once they migrate indoors, the bugs congregate in warm dark areas. Indoors they are attracted to light, not scent, so place your traps in attics, living areas and basements where the bugs gather to hibernate through the winter.

Stink bugs naturally walk up so they collect in high points on your house, says Leskey. So, be sure to check behind drapes, vents and even ceiling tiles.

“Once they’re indoors, move fast to capture and dispose of the bugs,” says Oster. “Light is what works indoors,” he says. RESCUE! just introduced a new Stink Bug Light – an attachable LED proven to lure the bugs into the trap. The light easily snaps onto the Stink Bug Trap and plugs into either a wall outlet or battery pack.

* Don’t vacuum. If you vacuum, you’ll scare them and they will emit a foul odor that will linger in your vacuum cleaner and home. If you do, change and dispose the bag immediately.

This is an all out bug war, and like Coleman says, “Don’t wait like me to be trapped by stink bugs in your own home!”

For more information and great tips on how to beat stink bugs, visit RESCUE! Stink Bug traps are available in home improvement centers, hardware stores and lawn and garden retailers. Visit the site for a list of retailers near you.

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