You may have already noticed them hanging out around doors and windows at your home, and experts say it's only likely to get worse over the next few weeks. Matt Hunter takes a closer look at the tiny pests known as stink bugs.
SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. – Tiny, brown and shield-shaped, they are not the type of visitor you're likely to welcome through the front door, but in many parts of the Capital Region, stink bugs are quite familiar.
"Here in Saratoga County, we've actually had a stink bug problem for a number of years, so they are not new to us, whereas some locations, they are a lot newer," Sue Beebe said.
Beebe oversees the Master Gardener program at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County. She says this is the time of year stink bugs start looking for places to hibernate for the winter. As temperatures cool, don't be surprised if you see more of them trying to get inside through your home's windows, doors and chimneys.
"It is like many insects, they call out to others,” Beebe said. “Once you have a large population in one area, they actually let off a pheromone that that draws others to the area, so all of a sudden, that small amount of insects becomes a massive amount of insects."
The good news for homeowners is stink bugs are not harmful to buildings. They are, however, a danger to local crops.
"It is especially troublesome on things such as tomatoes, pears, apples,” Beebe said. “In the agricultural community it is a very, very serious pest."
Many in the region have reported seeing more stink bugs recently, especially people living near orchards, farms and plants where the insects can feed. Beebe says that's a product of the weather and not a growth in the population.
"With this warmth we are having, they don't really want to go into hibernation yet, so they are just hanging around a lot more, so you are really noticing the numbers," Beebe said.
Beebe's best advice is to seal up any cracks near windows, doors and chimneys that could allow them to get inside. For more advice and information about stink bugs, visit Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County’s website.