North America is home to several native stink bug species that belong to the plant-feeding insects in the Homoptera suborder of the Hemiptera order of insects, which are commonly known as “true bugs.” While some true bugs are pests of cultivated plants, very few species within this order are considered home-invading pests. The one big exception in this regard is the bed bug, which is an atypical species in the Hemiptera order. However, bed bugs are unique insect pests, as they do not invade homes on their own accord; instead, they travel into homes on their human blood-hosts.
At their worst, some true bug species may inflict significant damage to turfgrass, garden plants, ornamental plants, and on rare occasions, one or multiple true bug specimens may wander indoors inadvertently. One last exception in this regard is the brown marmorated stink bug, which is a non-native true bug species that has established an invasive population within the US. These insect pests have become well known for swarming into homes in massive numbers during the fall in order to establish warm and dark indoor harborages for overwintering purposes. Brown marmorated stink bugs are particularly common house pests in the northeast, and in addition to being a nuisance within homes, the pests are also well documented as causing allergic reactions that affect those living within infested homes.
Documented evidence describing brown marmorated stink bugs as inducing allergic disease date back to 1900. Much like cockroaches, brown marmorated stink bug body fragments, excrement, and secretions become abundant in dust that gathers within the homes that they infest. These remains and byproducts float on dust particles, resulting in their inhalation by humans. Continued exposure to stink bug allergens causes allergy sensitization and the eventual development of chronic runny nose, headaches, head congestion, difficulty concentrating, dermatitis (skin rashes) and even pink eye.
The allergenic potential of stink bugs became clear after many northeastern Americans began experiencing the above mentioned symptoms in response to stink bug invasions into their homes during the fall. Eventually, allergy studies proved that stink bugs serve as medically significant indoor allergens, and the rate of doctor visits among people experiencing stink bug allergy symptoms increases every fall when the pests indulge in their annual home invasions. Stink bug allergens likely circulate throughout homes in abundance during much of the winter season in cases where the invasive pests establish a significant presence within heating vents.
Have you ever experienced allergy symptoms that you believe were induced by a large indoor presence of brown marmorated stink bugs?