The stink bugs are back.
"They're there," said John Steele, 49, a technician at Evey True Value Hardware in Bethel Park. "I thought they left, but they're back, and they seem bigger than they were last year."
Mr. Steele returned to his home in South Park on Tuesday night and said it looked like "someone took a shotgun and pepper sprayed the back of the house." He estimated that about 200 stink bugs were clinging to the white aluminum siding of his home.
"Yesterday was the worst I've seen in about a year," he said.
It's the time of year, in Pennsylvania and many other states, when the brown marmorated stink bug begins to flee from crop fields and wood lots and look for a place to spend the winter, said John Tooker, an assistant professor of entomology and an extension specialist at Penn State.
"They are trying to find a happy little spot," he said.
But happiness for a stink bug often means a headache for us.
Andrew Amrhein, owner of Evey Hardware, said he had sold 200 units of stink bug traps or spray in just the past 24 hours.
"It's been crazy the past couple of days," he said. One customer told Mr. Amrhein he had 4,000 to 5,000 stink bugs in his home already, and another customer had up to 500.
"They are just anxious to find ways to get rid of them, and or at least keep them out of the house," he said.
The increase in stink bug activity could continue for several more weeks, said Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and a co-leader of a brown marmorated stink bug working group.
"We've seen across many locations this year that the populations are up significantly over where they were in the fall of 2011," said Ms. Leskey, who is seeing "plenty" of stink bugs at her home in Kearneysville, W.Va.
The stink bug, which is not native to North America, was first observed in 1998 in Allentown, Pa., according to a fact sheet created by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
The stink bugs were out in full force in 2010, but the population seemed smaller in the fall of 2011, perhaps due in part to late tropical storms, Ms. Leskey said.
This year, however, they seem to be back in a big way.
Kaitlynn Riely: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1707. First Published October 3, 2012 8:15 PM