Master Gardeners Report on Pesky Nuisance Bugs in Home and Buildings This Fall


This month, on our Extension Master Gardener Facebook page, we asked Master Gardeners to report on any “nuisance bugs” that they had seen (or not seen as much of) in their region of the United States this fall.  Below is what we heard from them, along with resources to learn more about these pesky insects.

Stink Bugs – Brown Marmorated and Kudzu Bugs

Stink bugs are just that – stinky if handled, provoked, or squashed.  And the Kudzu bug (a type of stink bug) can stain your clothes if you squish it…so be aware: these guys are not just a nuisance, they can, as the name implies, be a smelly nuisance —  especially if they get in your home during fall months. While these two particular stink bugs are also considered invasive and cause economic damage to some crops, for the purpose of the blog post, we are focusing on their pesky nuisance qualities.

Kudzu bug infestation on outside of home

Kudzu bug infestation on outside of home (Photo credit: Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia,

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Photo credit: Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,

Hearing about Kudzu bug in Alabama and Other Southeastern States

Maggie Lawrence, inspired this blog post, as she alerted us that Kudzu bug infestations warranted a Wordless Wednesday post and followup post by  Dr. Xing Ping Hu on Kudzu Bugs: Annoying Smelly Pest. These articles alerted Alabama (and other southeastern) homeowners to the Kudzu bug problem this fall and how (or how not) to treat it.

Upon some more inquiry, colleagues at the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (Bugwood Network), University of Georgia, also pointed us to the Kudzu website which provides information about its’ increasing numbers and distribution across seven southeastern states to date. It  also provides information about how to identify Kudzu bug and report its presence.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)

Jacki from Oregon reported about brown marmorated stink bug:

In the Portland, Oregon area, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys, is increasing even though it arrived fairly recently. I found them massed in a clematis, and a few sheltered in a folded deck umbrella.

Do you have brown marmorated stink bug near you? Since 2009, when it was first detected in Pennsylvania, it has been mapped to many states across the U.S as being detected, a nuisance, or a serious agriculture pest.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the presence of stink bug as a nuisance pest near or around the home, find out how to best deal with them in this quick (and interesting) video: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control: Keeping Stink Bugs out of your House (University of Maryland Extension).

Box Elder Bugs

In fall, it seems there are always inquiring minds somewhere that want to know about the red and black bugs that appear in large masses outside of the home, sun bathing on warm concrete walls.  On our Facebook page, Linell reported a box elder bug sighting:

“Box elder bugs in eastern NE [are] liking the outdoor sunny warm walls on the garage and stone house, but [I am seeing] much fewer in numbers so far this year (drought?) and not a problem for me at all.”
Box elder bugs

Box elder bugs (Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

On the contrary, this month’s article on box elder bugs in the UMN Extension Yard and Garden News discusses numbers in Minnesota are up!
Whether your numbers are up or down this year, if you answer gardening questions in a state that has had box elder bugs in the past, you will likely need to answer questions about box elder bugs once again. If this is the case, there are many states Extension offices with box elder bug information. Here are a few to peruse:  Minnesota, CaliforniaColorado, and Pennsylvania.

Asian Lady Beetles

Krista from North Carolina said,

Lady Bugs!!! This past Monday, [we had] a swarm of them all over my house and a lot of them got inside. I truly dread when they are let loose.

Multicolored Asian lady beetle. Photo showing variation in color pattern.

Multicolored Asian lady beetle. Photo showing variation in color pattern. (Photo credit: Bill Ree, Texas A&M University,

As mentioned in this excerpt from Muticolord Asian Lady Beetles from Ohio State University:

Multicolored Asian lady beetles do not carry disease organisms. They do not eat wood, building materials, or human food. In fact, multicolored Asian lady beetles do not consume food while overwintering, but instead rely on their stores of body fat. Otherwise, they eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Regardless of what they eat, if they enter your home in large numbers it can still be annoying.  There are a few (really quite of few) fact sheets from state Extension services across the U.S.  Here is a quick sampling, if you’d like to find one closest to home:FloridaKentucky, MinnesotaMissouriOhioPennsylvania,  Clemson (South Carolina), Oregon


Last but not least, we can’t forget to report on the common desert centipede!

Sylvia Hacker from New Mexico says:

We get calls about centipedes but not as many as one might expect. They are territorial so you don’t usually find very many in one spot. Centipedes are very good at hiding, most people probably aren’t aware they’ve moved in.  We caution folks not to walk around their house at night barefoot and in the dark this time of year.  Centipedes really resent being stepped on! This fact sheet on Common desert centipede can be helpful for knowing more about centipedes.

Common Desert Centipede

Common Desert Centipede (Photo credit: Sylvia Hacker, Doña Ana Co. Master Gardener)

A Few More Thoughts on Nuisance Bugs

As many of the resource above state, nuisance bugs can become less of a nuisance or problem by preventing their entry into homes and buildings in fall.

Taking simple steps like turning off outdoor lights near home entry points so, for example, brown marmorated stink bugs don’t aggregate in large numbers by a door, can help reduce their entry into homes.

In most of these cases of nuisance bugs, preventing their entry by sealing up some holes and cracks around doors, windows, and siding with caulk can go a long way in preventing extra bugs from finding their way into the home.  Or, in the case of common desert centipede, simply wearing shoes while walking outside at night, and Sylvia suggests,  can be a helpful precaution in avoiding unpleasant encounters.

How about you? Do you have thoughts on nuisance bugs? What questions do you commonly answer about pesky bugs that want to come indoors in the fall?

-Karen Jeannette
Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

-Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

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One Response to “Master Gardeners Report on Pesky Nuisance Bugs in Home and Buildings This Fall”

  1. Jan Laws says:

    The invasive ladybug is the Harmonia axyridis Ladybug from Asia and has a white face with a black M. Our native to North America Ladybug is Hippodamia Ladybug and it is not invasive and overwinters outdoors. If you should want to release any Ladybugs in your greenhouse, please make sure they are not called “never leave home ladybugs” because they won’t leave home they will move into your house with you. Check your source and do not relocate any ladybugs unless they have a black face with a white M.