September 26, 2010

Are Stink Bugs The New "Vassar Bug"?

[via Flickr]
Over the years, the term "Vassar bug" has been applied for a number of insects that seem to exist only in the dorms of Vassar. (The term is also used for the cough that all students seem to get right before midterms.)  But if you ask most students, the Vassar bug probably refers to the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which according to yesterday's Washington Post, is becoming a major problem.

Don't worry, the stink bugs aren't aren't the new bed bugs. Despite their intimidating shield-like appearance, they actually don't bite, sting, or transmit disease. They do release an odor when they're crushed though, hence the name "stink bug."

Some people are pessimistic. "I think this is going to be biblical this year," says an expert in the Post article. The problem is particularly bad right now as the bugs seek warmer climates, i.e. the inside of houses. "What's happening now is a massive population shift from orchards, cornfields and gardens to suburban homes," the article states.

Unfortunately the stink bugs have no natural predators and resist pesticides. The only way to avoid them are by sealing cracks in doors and windows.

Update: A commenter is right, the Scutigera coleoptrata is also often considered the "Vassar bug." We had the misfortune of coming across one too many times.