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Known for their skunk-like smell, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug have been spotted in NYC and western Suffolk and Nassau counties. Not only do the produce a foul odor, but the insects can also destroy fruit crops and infest homes.
They're ugly, they smell and they've come to the New York area.
We're talking stink bugs. It's no joke -- the insect's real name is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. And that name is an appropriate one.
"When they're alarmed or disturbed or threatened, they let off a foul odor," said entomologist Dan Gilrein, who has been tracking stink bugs and their skunk-like odor for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk county.
Stink bugs have been found in small numbers in New York City, western Suffolk and Nassau counties since January, according to Gilrein. Local arborists and farmers have all been alerted to their presence because stink bugs in large numbers can be trouble.
The insects have already destroyed fruit crops and infested homes in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
"We don't know whether they'll be found in large numbers here," said Gilrein. "But we're telling people about them so they're informed."
So far, farmers in Suffolk county have not seen any of the destructive pests; but, as with any potential threat to their crops, farmers are not taking stink bugs lightly.
"There's always something new and exciting," said long-time Riverhead farmer Phil Schmitt. "Hopefully, I won't need to learn too much about this one."
Wine makers share that hope. Stink bugs like to attach themselves to grapes and, if the bugs make it through the fermenting process, they can literally stink up a good bottle of wine.
"It seems like the bugs are coming out of the woodwork," said a spokesperson for Martin Viette Nurseries of East Norwich, who detailed how customers have been bringing the ugly bugs in for identification. "People have found them in their blinds and on their windows. They're afraid of them."
"They look dangerous but they're no threat to people," said horticultural specialist Vincent Drzewucki of Hicks Nursery of Westbury.
Stink bugs do try to make their way into homes as temperatures drop. The best way to get rid of them, experts said, is to vacuum them up. If you stomp a stink bug, it will emit its horrific smell.
"They're just an annoyance that people hope would just stay outside," concluded Gilrein.