The Eric Factor: 11 things you didn’t know about stinkbugs

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Yesterday, I noticed my first boxelder bug. If you’re not from the Midwest, you’re probably wondering what that is. (Here’s a sneak peek.) They are nuisance bugs that come out in the fall that don’t bite but fly around and are downright annoying!

But this is also a sign that we’re entering “Stinkbug Season.” Believe it or not, there are a few facts surrounding these little critters that are quite interesting! Here are a few you probably didn’t know:

stinkbug1. Stinkbugs are a relatively new insect here in the United States. They were first discovered in Lynchburg, Pennsylvania in 1998 and  are now found in 41 states.

2. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the “stink” given off by these bugs is made up of similar chemistry to the herb cilantro.

3. Unlike spiders and many other insects, they like to be around others of their kind! According to Don Davis, a retired agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, when a stinkbug finds a good place to spend the winter, it releases a pheromone which signals others.

4. Stinkbugs can cause dermatitis in some people when they are scratched by the sharp edges of the bug’s exoskeleton. The result is swollen, reddened, and itchy skin.

e_floridanus035. Stinkbug eggs are laid in a neat, orderly fashion.

6. Unfortunate to find themselves floating on top of a creek or a pond, stinkbugs will not be eaten by fish! While fish eat caterpillars, crickets, ants, and flies that find their way to the water, most fish will spit out the average stink bug.

7. They’re not just herbivores. While stinkbugs will feast on plants in your garden and on your counter, did you know that they can suck the juices out of other bugs too? According to howstuffworks.com, when they’re not feeding, stinkbugs hold their needles (beaks) between their front legs. But when they’re hungry, they sink their needles into and suck the liquids from fruits, vegetables, and other bugs.

8. Stinkbugs are a delicacy to spiders, beetles, praying mantises, wrens, bluebirds, and cardinals.

Leaf-footed_Stinkbug9. Stinkbugs are attracted to the color yellow! So at this weekend’s picnic if you’re wearing something yellow, you will be more likely to have one of these guys land on you.

10. They are incredibly resilient and can survive great hardship. Probably one of the reason they have done so well, spreading across North America since 1998!

11. While they don’t bite humans and they move pretty slow, they are actually responsible for millions of dollars in plant damage. USDA researchers say stinkbugs were blamed for $37 million in crop losses to apple growers in the Mid-Atlantic states through 2010.

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