By Katie Demeria
Virginia Tech researchers recently confirmed the efficiency of homemade stink bug traps in removing the pests from residences -- and the technique may be the only effective way to be rid of them.
Harriet Harris, owner of Best Exterminating Services in Front Royal, said this time of year homeowners are more likely to see the annoying bugs.
"They hibernate in people's houses over the winter, and in the spring they leave," Harris said. "Then in the fall they'll return again."
Researchers from Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences found that homemade traps, such as those commonly demonstrated in online videos, are even more effective in trapping stink bugs than the store-bought alternatives.
A news release stated that the researchers "found that the best way to get rid of the little buggers is to fill a foil roasting pan with water and dish soap and put a light over the pan to attract the bugs in a dark room."
It added that the technique eliminates 14 times the amount of stink bugs than store-bought traps.
Harris confirmed that she has seen homemade traps work well. She suggested putting an insect light into an empty 2-liter soda bottle, cutting off the top, inverting it, then wrapping the bottle in black electrical tape with a few strips of masking tape on top.
The stink bug will see the light, she said, climb up the masking tape, and fall into the top.
One of the best ways to ensure the bugs do not get into homes at all, Harris said, is to seal the house off in the summer, after they have leave the residence in the spring and before they return in the fall.
"The more effectively they seal it the less likely the stink bugs will be to come in," she said.
Harris started seeing the Asian bugs around six years ago, she said.
"They are out of control," she said. "There is no natural predator for them."
Because there is no natural predator, she added, stink bugs are multiplying quickly. They also hitchhike well, latching onto cars so an individual may inadvertently carry them back to their home.
The bugs are largely nuisances to people, she said, and do not cause much harm. But to farmers they can be devastating.
The news release stated that the trap is really only practical for homeowners.
"Farmers around the mid-Atlantic have seen millions of dollars in damage to their crops since the brown marmorated stink bug invaded the region in the late 2000s," it stated.
While one benefit of the home remedy is that it does not require insecticides, the release stated, farmers do not have the same luxury -- and insecticides can be quite costly.
By remaining proactive, however, Harris said most homeowners should be able to keep the bugs out of their homes.
"The homeowners must do stuff themselves, you can't expect them to stop coming," she said. "And those measures aren't going to get rid of them entirely, of course, since they don't have a natural predator. They're just preventative."
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org