Ooh ooh that smell! Can’t you smell that smell?

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 4, 2013

SALISBURY — As the weather gets cooler, we often receive phone calls on insects coming into clients’ homes. Some of the most notorious violators are lady beetles, stink bugs and now kudzu bugs.
Lady beetles are also known as ladybugs. The primary species that inhabits homes during cooler months is the Asian multi-colored lady beetle. Since this was an imported species (to reduce aphid populations), they have had to adapt to our surroundings. In their native area they usually over-winter on cliff sides; since we do not have this type of environment, homes, sidings, windows, etc. seem to be the next best thing.
Ladybugs do not eat furniture, clothing or other homeowner items, they are just looking for shelter for the winter. They are a beneficial insect so we do not typically recommend any insecticides. Vacuuming can remove the dead lady bugs and helps prevent stains that can be caused from squishing them.
Some of the worst offenders are the stink bugs and kudzu bugs. One of the most problematic stink bugs is the brown marmorated stink bug. This pest was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2001 but made its way to North Carolina in 2009. What makes this stink bug so problematic is that it is one of the most devastating stink bugs, they cause damage to landscaping plants such as butterfly bushes, sunflowers and zinnias. The most costly damage they do is on apples, peaches, cotton and soybeans. Luckily for the homeowner, houses typically do not have their favorite snacks indoors.
Brown marmorated stink bugs are very similar to the Asian multi-colored ladybug in that they enjoy over-wintering in people’s homes. They are looking for shelter and somewhere nice and warm to make it through the winter. If crushed, they can cause an unpleasant odor that most homeowners find offensive.
As for the last offending over-wintering insect, it is the most recent offender and has caused quite a stir since its first appearance in 2009. Almost all 100 counties have experienced the kudzu bugs. Most of the calls we receive describe the insect as being camouflaged, smelling horrible and having certain plants engulfed by them such as wisteria, soybeans and figs just to name a few. Kudzu bugs are shaped quite similar to lady beetles but they have an olive green color with brown specks. The problem with being in close proximity is that they can also cause painful welts if squished using bare hands.
Kudzu bugs like to overwinter in homes, attics and inside walls. Once temperatures begin to warm up, large masses of the kudzu bugs are sometimes seen on light-colored siding and cause a flurry of concerns. There are just a few recommendations to rid homes of the kudzu bugs — for homeowners, pyrethroid insecticides can help reduce their numbers.
To help reduce the instances of lady beetles, stink bugs and kudzu bugs, routinely check your home for cracks, crevices and small entrances into your home. If able, seal off the cracks and holes and caulk around doors and windows.
For more information on kudzu bugs visit http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/kudzubug.htm or http://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms-kudzubug/
For more information on the brown marmorated stink bug, visit: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note148/note148.html
Information on ladybugs/beetles: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/note74/note74.html