The word "marmorated" does not appear in many dictionaries. The closest etymological relative I found was "marmoreal" meaning "relating to marble". During the last few autumns, many homeowners in Washington County near Hagerstown almost lost their marbles when their homes were invaded by hordes of unruly stink bugs. The invaders accumulated in large numbers indoors near windows and along baseboards. When disturbed by a predator or a broom and dustpan they live up to their name, stink bug, and emit a memorable foul odor.
Where are they found?
The brown marmorated stink bug is a member of a large family of bugs that include the Harlequin bug and green stink bug, important pests of vegetables. The brown marmorated stink bug is a native of China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. This pest was first observed near Allentown, PA, in 1996. Since then it has been found in several counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Oregon. The extent to which this pest has colonized North America remains a mystery.
In Asia it is a serious pest of fruit trees including peaches, apples, cherries, figs, mulberries, and persimmons. It is also an important pest of soybeans. In North America it has been observed feeding on more than seventy species of plants including herbaceous annuals and perennials and many species of woody trees and shrubs. This is a sucking insect. It inserts needle-like mouthparts into leaves and fruit, injects digestive enzymes into the plant tissue, and slurps the liquefied food into its belly. The life history of this pest is similar to many of its native relatives. Adults overwinter in protected locations outdoors or in homes or other buildings. They become active in April and move outdoors to find food. From June until August the mottled gray-brown females lay green, barrel shaped eggs in clusters of 20-30 on the undersides of leaves. The young nymphs sport black patches and lines against a background of yellow-orange, magnificent to behold. They are often gregarious and found in large numbers. Older nymphs are the gray-brown color of the adults with alternating light and dark bands on their abdomen, legs, and antennae. These alternating bands of dark and light on antennae, legs, and abdomen are diagnostic for this pest and give them a marbled appearance.
Controlling stink bugs
What can be done to control this invader? Officials around the nation are still attempting to delimit the distribution of this pest. If you suspect that you have an infestation of brown marmorated stink bug indoors or out, contact your State Department of Agriculture or Cooperative Extension Service. Ultimately, you will prevent these from becoming a nuisance in your household much the same way you prevent invasions by camel crickets (bug of the week, October 24) or Asian multicolored lady bird beetle (bug of the week, May 23). Eliminate points of entry around your foundation, windows, facer boards, and eves by screening, caulking, and repair. If the little devils are already in your home, sweep or vacuum them, and send them to the great beyond in an environmentally appropriate and satisfying way.
For more information on the brown marmorated stink bug visit the following web sites.