• How to deal with hidden infestations of stink bugs


    LIGONIER, Pa. - Paul Stafura is waging a war inside his Ligonier home. The enemy is stink bugs.

    "You come up knowing that you're going to have a battle on your hands," Stafura said. "I was killing 25 stink bugs every time I would come up here."

    While Stafura's infestation may have started in the summer, it only gets worse in the winter, and according to exterminators, that's not uncommon in the Pittsburgh area.

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    "With stink bugs, it's an issue of hibernation," Stephen Repasky, owner of Bee Control Pittsburgh, said.

    Stink bugs head indoors before the first frost and often hide inside the walls of homes, according to Repasky. They can go unnoticed for weeks or even months, but that changes when homeowners turn their furnaces on. Repasky said the heating of the home tricks stink bugs into thinking it's spring.

    "They want to start their breeding biology and their breeding cycle," Repasky said. "The warm sun beating down on the walls where they hibernate makes them believe that it's much warmer than it really is."

    Stafura had to hire Bee Control Pittsburgh twice to tackle his stink bug problem, and it's still not resolved. Stafura is still finding the insects on his windows, in his bathroom and hiding under the covers of his beds.

    "When you picked up a pillow from the top of the bed, you'd find two or three there," Stafura said. "The bed rails? Twenty-five there. Picking up a comforter? Could be 5-10."

    While first documented in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998, the invasive species is thought to have arrived in the United States years earlier on the Asian cargo ships.

    Penn State Ph.D student Hillary Peterson studies stink bugs. In Pennsylvania, she said they're considered a "severe agriculture pest."


    "They're really problematic for growers here," Peterson said. "They have to spray their other crops more with pesticides when they really didn't have to before the stink bugs showed up."

    While stink bugs don't pose a health risk, Repasky said that doesn't make them any less disgusting for homeowners.

    "They are a nuisance," he said. "It's more of a fear factor for homeowners than anything."

    According to Repasky, the best way to prevent stink bugs is to seal all cracks and crevices, as well as hire an exterminator.

    Paul Stafura has done all that, but his battle rages on. What used to be a place for his family to unwind for generations has become a source of stress.

    "You might find one on the table here in front of us," he said. "You might find two in my coffee cup that I just sat down. Where do they come from? I do not know."


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