NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 4, 2012

A banner year for bad bugs

First came spring and the ticks, bearers of Lyme disease and destroyers of worry-free walks in the woods or fields.

Then, the mosquitoes in summer’s heat, carrying the potentially deadly West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses and forcing people to change their outdoor habits.

Now, with fall comes the stink bug. It is invading local homes in unusual numbers, looking for a cozy crack or cranny nook to spend the winter.

Say this for the stink bug, though: At least it’s not a threat to humans.

The bug it is certainly an unwelcome house guest.

The stink bug is a brownish, spindly legged bug with a shield-shaped body, about three quarters of an inch long. When threatened or squished, it emits an odor that has been compared to the smell of sweaty socks — or cilantro.

The bug has been chewing its way across the United States and is now documented to exist in most states, including Massachusetts. Its domain is steadily spreading, as recent reports from Derry, N.H., attest.

Maureen Heard of Derry said that in the past, she might see one stink bug in her home in a year. Now, she finds several a day, though she takes steps to try to keep them out of her home.

“I noticed one in my shower, then I started seeing them in the corners of my room,” Heard said. Larry Johnson, the owner of Absolute Pest Management in Derry said he is fielding more calls from homeowners about the pests. “They are very bad,” he said.

While they don’t do any damage to your home, “they get into everything,” he added.

The most common advice for keeping the pests at bay is to seal cracks around doors and windows and repair or replace damaged screens.

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