Stink bugs strike

Posted: 8:00 PM EDT Jun 01, 2013   Updated: 6:50 AM EDT Jun 03, 2013

Summer means sun and fun, but for farmers and gardeners, it's also the start of a very "stinky" problem.

They're icky and stinky -- stink bugs.  And guess what.  They're back.

"There are so many of them out there," said Karen Bernhard, an entomologist with the Penn State Ag Extension office in Lehigh Co.  "They are continuing to spread and they are creating great big problems."

This is the time of year stink bugs start feeding on apple, peach, and corn crops.

"They suck juices out of things and that causes damage," said Bernhard.  "In corn, it ruins the corn kernels.  They go right through the husk."

Stink bugs are a fairly new phenomenon.  They first appeared in America in Allentown.  That was 15 years ago.  Since then, they've spread to 33 states.

"People who have backyard gardens should make sure that they know how to identify the eggs and the young and the adults of these accurately," said Bernhard.

You can crush the eggs, but traditional pesticides don't generally work.  Although wasps are starting to feed on stink bugs.

And stink bugs don't just hit crops.  Come fall, they also seek warmth inside your home.  Bernhard said to start preparing your home now.

"It's going to be the same kind of thinking you use when you're trying to keep the air conditioning in," she said.  "Weatherproof your house."

That means checking your weather stripping and caulking, and seal-up any big holes where faucets come out.

"Any openings you know of where they might be coming in, you try to tighten up as best you can," said Bernhard.

That way, you can leave collecting these pesky, stinky insects to professionals like her.