Beetles and Bugs

Stink Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species from Asia, has terrorized growers and homeowners across the country for several years, decimating crop harvests and popping up in residents’ living rooms. As of September, the stink bugs were detected in 44 states, and the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic were the hardest-hit areas of the U.S.

The stink bugs eat over 100 types of plants and vegetables, and in the winter, they find their way into homes through cracks and crevices. The pests often appear around windows and doors inside homes, but they’re mostly a nuisance and not costly for homeowners. Prevention is the easiest way to combat stink bugs: Seal cracks and other openings around door jams and windows with caulk.

Box Elder Beetle

Boxelder bugs can be found throughout the eastern United States, wherever the boxelder maple grows. As temperatures dip in the fall, boxelder bugs will search for a safe place to overwinter. Generally, they will congregate in homes and buildings near female boxelders and other host plants. Like stinkbugs and Asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs gather in large numbers, creating a nuisance for anyone whose home gets invaded. Besides appearing in mass, they can stain curtains, other fabrics and walls with their feces once they’re inside your home. They’ve also been known to emit an unpleasant odor. They’re basically the equivalent of the native North American stinkbug.

Powder Post Beetle

The powder post beetles include small wood boring beetles of at least three families, the Lyctidae or true powder post beetles, the Anobiidae or deathwatch beetles, and the Bostrichidae or branch and twig borers (sometimes called false powder post beetles). The larvae of these beetles feed on cellulose in wood, and they can cause extensive damage to wood in structures and homes if conditions are suitable to them. Moisture plays a key role in attack from these insects. In their feeding they reduce the wood to a fine powder, not unlike talcum powder in consistency. Holes left by emerging beetles are about 1/8 inch in diameter and round. They are sometimes called “shot holes.” A tool such as an awl can be helpful in determining the extent of damage. If the awl pokes in easily and deeply, the wood may be severely damaged.

Eggs are deposited in cracks, crevices, pores or old emergence holes in wood, or in tunnels made by the females. A tiny larva hatches from an egg and burrows into the wood. It continues feeding and growing to maturity, when it burrows toward the surface and pupates. The adult emerges from the pupa and continues the tunnel to the surface. Adults leave the wood, mate, and then the females return to lay eggs. Exit holes and sawdust from beetles burrowing out are often the first symptom noticed. Depending on the type of powder post beetle and the species, the life cycle may range from 3 months to 2 or more years. Some species are specific as to the types of wood they infest, while others are general feeders. However, they usually are either hardwood feeders, or softwood (conifer) feeders.

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