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Whoever came up with the name “stink bugs” may not have been terribly clever, but they were definitely accurate—the pungent odor of stink bugs has been compared to coriander. Some people hate the smell of coriander, while others love it. But no one likes to think of their home as infested with bug air-fresheners.

Stink bugs are shaped like tiny shields, a little over half an inch long and just as wide. They are mostly brown, but have a colorful outer shell with hints of blue, black, copper, and white, arranged in a mosaic pattern. But stink bugs look similar to other insect species, and the best way to identify them is the characteristic white bands on their antennae. Their smell (which results from the chemicals trans-2-decenal and trans-2-octenal, in case you’re a chemist) is a defensive maneuver to prevent them from being lunch for lizards and birds.

Stink bugs aren’t native to the U.S., and it’s thought that they were accidentally brought here in packing crates from China or Japan. (The first recorded case of American stink bugs was in 1998 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.) Aside from infesting homes, stink bugs are major agricultural pests, feeding on a number of fruits and vegetables. The USDA has created an artificial pheromone that is used as bait for stink bug traps.

On the home front, stink bugs will enter houses through any opening that is big enough for them to squeeze through, such as between siding, soffits, window and door frames, and cracks in chimneys. So it may be worth it to seal these spaces with caulk, especially before the winter—which is when stink bugs are most likely to enter (to escape the cold).

If you’re smelling coriander when you shouldn’t be, or you’re worried about any possible infestation, give us a call so you can rest easy.