1. Occasional Invaders FAQ

What are Occasional Invaders?


Occasional invaders are a group of insects that sporadically invade your home throughout the year because the weather conditions outside become hostile.

Centipedes, crickets, earwigs, ladybugs, millipedes, silverfish, stink bug and others are considered occasional invaders and typically live and reproduce outside but they might visit your home when indoor conditions are better for their survival.

They can bite, pinch, eat your houseplants, damage your furniture, cause stains and generate disgusting odors. It's more common to see these unwanted guests inside your house during the fall season because they are searching for a place to overwinter 

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are considered what kind of pests?

To Home and Property Owners, stink bugs are considered a nuisance pest, because they cannot bite or sting people, and will not cause structural damage to your home.

However, they are considered an agricultural pest to local gardeners and produce growers due to the huge losses they incur for the produce industry every year, especially growers of apples, soybeans, peaches, and pears.


Why are stink bugs in my house?

Stink bugs will often enter homes in the fall through small cracks or openings around windows, doors, gable vents, chimneys, soffits, etc. to avoid the cold and find a place to overwinter.

Once inside, the warm temperatures will keep them active, which will make their presence hard to miss. In springtime, they will emerge from their overwintering locations and venture outside to forage for food and mate. This is why you will often see stink bugs on or around windows.


Is anything being done to eradicate stink bugs from our region?

Yes. The US Department of Agriculture is currently reviewing other insect species from Asia to find a natural predator for stink bugs. Insects like the Trissolcus wasp act as a biological control, or a way of managing stink bug populations in Asia without human involvement, but it must be confirmed that these new populations can be introduced into our region and control the population levels of stink bugs without having a detrimental effect on insect species that already live here.


What can I do to get rid my house of stink bugs?

To prevent pest entry, inspect your home for openings or cracks that can be repaired. (Window screens, cracks in walls, etc.) You can also install insect screening over gable vents and chimney caps.

For stink bugs that have already invaded your home, you can vacuum up these insects with a handheld vacuum or vacuum with a wand feature, and immediately dispose of the vacuum bag. If you have an infestation that has grown beyond control, it may be time to call a pest management professional.


How does the stink bug life cycle work?

In early April, adult stink bugs come out of their overwintering locations to mate and lay eggs on the undersides of plant leaves. Nymphs, the immature stage of stink bugs, hatch in late April through May, and experience five molts before they become adult stink bugs.

Molting is the process of outgrowing and replacing their exoskeletons. They will also develop their wings and become sexually mature throughout this period. The adults will begin looking for a place to overwinter in October and will reappear in the following spring. In the warmer climates of southern states, stink bugs may be able to produce more than one generation in a single year.


Why are stink bugs in our region?

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are native to Southeast Asia. It is believed that they hitched a ride with packages that were shipped internationally when they arrived in this country.

They are considered an invasive species to the United States, because they have been introduced into our ecosystem without natural methods of controlling their population levels (Predators, non-conducive conditions, etc.)

Without natural population control, humans have to implement control methods before stink bugs deplete food and shelter resources that native species of insects depend on, and become a pest to humans too!




How have stink bugs been able to spread so fast?

Stink bugs have no natural predators in the United States. They may fall prey to certain types of ants, spiders, and the praying mantis, but these species do not consume brown marmorated stink bugs exclusively, so they will not prey on stink bugs enough to control their population numbers.

In addition, a single female stink bug may lay as many as 400 eggs in her lifetime! That many eggs hatching every year without a predator to keep their numbers in check means that stink bug populations will only keep growing in our region every year unless pest management protocols are implemented.


Why are stink bugs referred to by that name?

Simply put, they stink! They have a natural defense mechanism in place that releases a foul-smelling odor from their abdomen to repel their enemies. This reaction can be triggered when they are handled by humans, injured, frightened, or squashed.

What are stink bugs?

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (Halyomorpha halys) are from the order Hemiptera. They are commonly known as “shield bugs,” which refers to their body shape. Stink bugs are distinctly recognizable with their marbled brown color and “shield-shaped” form.


Why should I call a pest management professional to resolve my stink bug problem?

A Pest Management Professional (PMP) is licensed by the state and trained to provide integrated pest management methods to eliminate stink bugs and other pests from your property.

The training and licensing procedures for PMPs have prepared technicians with the knowledge and expertise required to target pests using their behavior and biology against them.

For the Do-It-Yourselfers at heart, a technician can also inspect your property and offer you valuable insights on what you can do to further prevent pest entry into your home, as well as reduce conducive conditions on your property that promote pest activity.

Finally, Pest Management technicians also have access to pesticides and application equipment that are proven to be more effective at eradicating pests than most over the counter products available at local garden centers or retail outlets.


Can't I take care of stink bugs myself?

A lot of DC residents are interested in controlling stink bugs in their homes by themselves, and American Pest respects their motivation and determination.

While some cases of stink bugs can be managed with the Do-It-Yourself approach, the situation often grows out of the scope of a homeowner’s patience very quickly.

When is it time to call a professional?

The fact is, everyone has different limits on how much pest activity they can tolerate in their home. Some homeowners don’t mind what they see as “a few harmless bugs,” while others resort to panic at the first sighting of a stink bug.

American Pest recommends referencing your own level of patience as the best indicator of when it is time to call a PMP to get rid of their stink bugs.


What type of pest are stink bugs?

To Home and Property Owners, stink bugs are considered a nuisance pest, because they cannot bite or sting people, and will not cause structural damage to your home.

However, they are considered an agricultural pest to local gardeners and produce growers due to the huge losses they incur for the produce industry every year, especially growers of apples, soybeans, peaches, and pears.

Other Invaders

What is a Maggot?

"Maggot" is a word often used to describe the small, worm-like larvae of flies. It is not a technical term and is rarely referred to in entomology. It can be mistakenly used to refer to larvae of other insects that are not flies, such as the larvae of mosquitoes or clothes moths. If you believe that you have discovered "maggots" in your home or business, the larvae of flies are often the result of decaying flesh or other organic matter.


What are these small, red biting bugs on my azaleas?

Azaleas are home to several plant pests but one specifically draws the attention of gardeners in Maryland and Northern Virginia.  Rhinocapsus vanduzeei --otherwise known as the “Azalea Plant Bug” is a beneficial insect that feeds on other insects. When prey is limited, it will also feed on the stamens of Azalea blooms in the spring.

American Pest recommends wearing long sleeves and gloves when pruning Azaleas in the spring as the insect is known to inflict a painful bite when disturbed.


What is a silverfish?

Silverfish are insects that get their name from their fish-like shape and 'rising and falling' movements. They are typically drawn to sugars and starches as their primary food source and for this reason present themselves as pests when they feed on book bindings, glue, wallpaper, paint, coffee, cotton, and some types of carpeting.


I have spotted brown, black, and white beetles in my home that look like lady bugs. What are they and why are they in my closets?

It sounds like you are describing the varied carpet beetle of the family Dermestidae. Carpet beetles can be a serious pest in large numbers because of their tendency to feed on the fibers that make up our clothing, bedding, carpeting and drapery.

In low numbers, one sign of their presence can be the discarded molt shells of the quickly growing larvae. Greater numbers can usually be found in closets and other places where clothing is stored.


What are camel crickets?

Sometimes called sprickets or criders for their superficial resemblance to both spiders and crickets, camel crickets are usually found in basements or otherwise dark, cool and damp areas.

While these insects have poor eyesight, they will jump towards humans and pets in an attempt to frighten them away! These insects have no ability to bite or sting humans and despite their boldness are entirely harmless.


What is an Earwig?

Earwigs are small, flattened insects with a pair of forcep-like pincers at the end of their bodies. The name "earwig" likely stems from the old wives tale that these insects live in wigs and emerge at night to lay eggs in human ears.

No part of that story is true and earwigs generally do not seek out human contact. They live in cracks and crevices feeding on decaying organic matter and only invade homes occasionally. Though the pincers at the back end of their bodies may look fearsome, these insects are entirely harmless.


Are house centipedes dangerous?

While somewhat fearsome looking and very fast, house centipedes are largely harmless and are only considered pests based on their ability to frighten us.

Centipedes are not insects but belong to a group called myriapods meaning "many legs". House centipedes are predators of unwanted insects such as crickets, silverfish, ants, termites and roaches and if tolerated can be quite beneficial as a form of pest control in their own right. They are capable of delivering a minor bite when they feel threatened.


What are scabies?

Scabies are mites that feed primarily on humans and domestic animals. Scabies mites are virtually invisible to the naked eye but when left undetected, will cause severe itching. Scabies is spread easily from person to person contact and require medical attention. If you suspect that you have scabies, please seek the advice of a medical professional, such as your primary care physician.


I have had treatment for roaches, why do I see more?

There is more than one way to answer this question, but it is safe to say that whenever treating for German cockroaches, follow-up treatments will be necessary.

It is also important to mention that the female German cockroach will drop her egg capsule after carrying it around for a few weeks.

The egg capsule contains 30-40 ready-to-hatch roaches, just waiting for the right moment. While the first treatment is aimed at killing all adult roaches, it is common that the unhatched eggs will emerge within weeks of the initial treatment--therefore rendering a necessary follow-up treatment.

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