(NEXSTAR) — One bug, aptly named the brown marmorated stink bug, is an invasive species already found in much of the United States. They could become even more common thanks to climate change, a team of researchers found.
The stink bug, which seems to find its way into your home no matter what you do and produces a pungent odor when killed, was introduced to the U.S. in the mid-1990s, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Agriculture notes that the bug was first confirmed in Pennsylvania, much like another invasive species officials are asking people to kill.
Stink bugs, native to eastern Asia, feed on a variety of plants like fruit and ornamental trees and some crops. While found in 46 states, the EPA says the highest concentrations of stink bugs are found in the mid-Atlantic region.
But, as researchers from Washington State University recently found, stink bugs could become more prominent amid changing weather, which could increase the suitable habitat for the bug by 70%.
In a study published in Pest Management Science, researchers reviewed stink bug monitoring efforts in 17 states and “several potential climate scenarios,” to formulate a model showing how climate change may impact the bug’s presence.
“Every system will change with climate change, so the fact that you can grow garbanzo beans, lentils or wheat without these pests now, doesn’t mean that you will not have them in a few years,” said study lead author Javier Gutierrez Illan, a Washington State University entomologist, in a press release.
Researchers say overall, conditions suitable for stink bugs are likely to shift northward, stretching into areas around the Great Lakes (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio) and into West Coast valleys like California’s Sacramento Valley and Idaho’s Treasure Valley.
There were two main factors researchers pointed to that contribute to a stink bug’s preferred habitat — the insect’s dislike for cold weather and its need for water.
As colder weather begins to settle in, you may already see stink bugs trying to work their way into your home. While your home — and populated areas in general — are ideal for the stink bugs as it provides them a place to spend the winter, researchers found that once the insects have reached an area, they’ll be able to thrive without them.
And if rising temperatures mean warmer winters, it could mean success for the bugs. But, researchers say that if higher temperatures leave areas dry, the bugs are less likely to thrive there.
Researchers found that states in the south, especially along the Gulf of Mexico, may see a decline in the bug’s preferred habitat.
Still, the insect “may expand its range considerably in future decades, threatening crops in regions where it has not yet been detected,” researchers write.
“There are mitigating things that we can do, but it is wise to prepare for change,” Gutierrez Illan added.
Some states are working to combat the invasive bug. Researchers at Washington State University, for example, have found that samurai wasps can be used to control stink bug populations. The wasps will lay their eggs in stink bug eggs, effectively killing the bug and producing wasps that will eat other stink bugs.
If you’re trying to prevent a stink bug invasion in your own home, experts at Pennsylvania State University say the best method is to seal any openings the bugs can enter through, whether it’s in your windows, doors, chimneys, or siding. Insecticides outside your home may also help, but their effect can be worn down by sunlight.
Once inside your home, the EPA suggests vacuuming stink bugs whether they’re dead or alive, but know that that may cause your vacuum to smell for a short period of time. You can also make a trap using a metal pan with soapy water placed by a light source, which can attract the bug. Aerosol and fogger insecticides can kill the bug but won’t prevent others from coming in.