This insect is more than a brown bug in your yard

Image: Imago / Arnulf Hettrich

The ocean is still calm when a shark is swimming underneath. A normal Saturday afternoon, a bug in your yard, but is it as harmless as it looks? What should you do, then, to stop the bug. The small insect is brown, it is round, and has six legs.

Does the brown bug in your yard have a back resembling a shield? It looks calm, like it’s minding its business, but has plans up its sleeves, and you should take precautions. There are steps you can take after spotting it to keep your yard safe. We will explain it to you in this article.

1. What to look out for

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It is a tiny insect, only 0.7 inches long. You however cannot undermine the wreckage they will do to your backyard despite their tiny sizes. The insect moves using its legs and wings. If you fail to notice them, the damage to your yard will notify you something is terribly wrong.

Look at the ground and raised surfaces as well. Search the trees as they could fly and rest there. Because they fly, they cover more surfaces because why not. Watch out for them inside your home, parched on walls or drapery. The solution? Nip the problem as soon as possible at its bud.

2. But what are they exactly

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The insect is from the species Halyomorpha halys. Ever had of the brown marmorated stink bug? The non-flattering name they go by is a result of the annoying effects they cause to yards and gardens. The insect is currently in US and UK. Its native origin is Asia, particularly from China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korean.

The head of the Coleopteran collection at the National History Museum in UK, Max Barclay has a theory about why they appeared in UK. He informed The Guardian in March 2021 the bug might have made an overseas trip to the area via a shipment or cargo transportation.

3. Riddle: why would an insect want a joyride

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The answer is: warmth. Barclay explained the insects are inactive during the cold season. They hibernate to warmer places to wait out the cold. Their type of hibernation is diapause. It explains why they would find a shipment and cargo filled containers warm enough to rest until it is warmer.

The root of the problem is the insects thrive in warm conditions. If the climate changes to warm, they multiply. The chances of them spreading to other areas in large numbers are high. This fear is valid as per a research by specialists featuring in the International Journal of Biometeorology in August 2020.

4. Research findings

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The specialists estimated by 2100s most regions will be the right habitats for the bugs. Half of Switzerland for instance will present the perfect conditions for them to thrive. They move unnoticed so it may be difficult to control where they reach.

One of the researches in the group was Dr. Tim Haye an employee at Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI). He has a deep understanding of the bug. In September 2020, he happened to post some of his findings on the CABI website. The insects seem to modify and evolve as the climate changes. Their level of reproduction is also impacted.

5. His takeaway

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Climate change continues to determine different ways the bug multiplies. It affects its life cycle. It also means it will continue appearing in regions other than Asia where it originates. His research led him to the prediction that North western Switzerland could become a suitable region for the bug on the Northern side.

The foothills of the Alps on the Southern side predictably will become an ideal habitat for the insects. The alpine valleys have high latitudes, a perfect condition for the bugs on the onset of climate change. Dr. Haye recommends monitoring spread of population in this areas as a control measure.

6. Well what now

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Since the bugs are here, spreading as the climate changes what can anyone really do? Judging by the speed of spread of the bugs in US only, quick action is essential. The first sighting of the bug in US was at Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1996. Their identification was a long five years later.

All this time it existed as a mystery to everyone who encountered it. It was a new species in sight. They kept spreading in the surrounding areas near Allentown. They spread toward New Jersey and Virginia in 2004. More recently they are covering other areas and have been to North Carolina.

7. spread of the stink bug

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The insects have spread like a plague in 44 states already. This spread unfortunately seems will continue to the rest of the continents. The tiny harmless looking insect have one weapon only, their smell. They have a pungent odor as a reaction to ‘danger’ real or perceived.

Their smell is sensed when you get close to where they are. Some people who try to describe the smell say it is like a mixture of herbs, a concentrated smell of, say, coriander. According to The Guardian, it smells like almonds or something close. Have a look at our next point to find out more.

8. Number 1 smell, number 2?

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If you sight the bug in your yard, their smell is only one reason to get rid of it or them. Your beautiful garden or lawn is at the risk of total destruction under the mandibles of these insects. They enjoy vegetables and fruits especially. They eat to destroy.

According to The Guardian, American apple farmers lost close to $40 million worth of apples because of the stink bug. They only eat small sections of the fruit, leaving brown stains in the areas they scratch and munch on. Thereafter, the fruit goes bad. The same destruction apparent to these apples appears with the other vegetables and fruits they feed on.

9. Extent of damage

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The bug has left grape farmers as worried as the American apple farmers. Their stench alone can damage grapes, which would have been several batches of wine. This may cause a negative trend on the wine industry in UK, yet it had been improving recently. The insects also seem to enjoy cucumbers.

The damage the insects can cause is worrying to homeowners, business people, and farmers as they are immediately affected. Max Barclay reported to The Guardian in March 2021 the unfortunate news that it may be difficult to get rid of the bugs completely. Their invasive nature makes it difficult to wipe them out.

10. Here to stay?

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Max Barclay compares the bug to another similarly invasive type already in UK. The same trend, arrival, and quickly multiplying and spreading happened with the harlequin ladybird from China, an invasive species as well. The first ones appeared in 2006 and currently they are endless.

Farmers and anyone who spots the stink bug should however not feel too depressed. There are methods to eliminate the pests from your farm, garden, or backyard. Because they can easily get inside your home, close up any openings they could easily get in from. Weed your garden to reduce the foliage within which the bugs can hide.

11. More control methods

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If you have decorative shrubs, and bushes of plants which grow in clusters for example hydrangea, you may need to remove them. You should also remove anything which the bugs could hide in or underneath like decorative posts or ornaments. Check your flowers too and remove any extra leaves. Prune some shrubs.

Doing this destroys all the areas the bugs could stay in comfortably. Another method is to create a repellent as recommended by Gardening Know How, using kaolin clay solution, water, and dish soap. Put the mixture in a spray bottle after stirring thoroughly. Find out more in our next point.

12. Does it work

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According to Gardening Know How, the bugs will not eat plants sprayed with this repellent. Aside from the immediate relief of not watching your plants die from a bug attack, it means they will not leave eggs all over your plants creating new offspring.

Fortunately, the mixture does not harm your vegetables, shrubs, flowers, and fruits. Keep spraying with this repellent until you cannot see the bugs around. When the horizon is clear, spray your garden or farm with clean water to make the vegetables and fruits edible. Aside from spraying, you could invest in a trap plant. Find out more on the next page.

13. Get a Venus flytrap?

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No, calm down. The bug is drawn to specific plant colors like yellow. You can try sunflower or mustard, whatever you have in yellow shades. Look or a section which is mostly clear. You want to place the plant trap away from your plants as much as possible.

The bugs will gather here coming out of all areas they might have been hiding. Since they have collected in one area, you can get rid of the plant. Uproot the plant, place it in a garbage disposal bag, and keep it out in the sun. The heat will have killed the bugs in two days.

14. What about those in the house

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Using a sealant on areas you have noticed the bugs get in from is an effective step. These are, mainly spaces on your windows and doors. The insects can pass through tiny openings since they are so small themselves. In the event that they are already in the house you can easily get rid of them using a vacuum cleaner. Remember to dump them when you finish the vacuuming to get rid of the smell.

These are all effective methods to clear your living space, yard, and garden of the insects. Stink bugs are just among the many bugs you could spot in your backyard.

15. Other bags

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The UK’s Royal Horticultural Society has created a list of other bags that are all likely to be in your garden in 2020, sooner or later. Recognizable and strange insect names have made it onto the list. In tenth place we find mealybugs and mealybugs. In first place are the familiar snails and slugs. In the middle of the list we find weevils and ants.

The stink bug was not in the list. While this is good news for now, an RHS leading insect expert believes they may appear in future lists regularly considering how fast they keep spreading. Andy Salisbury spoke to BBC in March 2021.

16. Andy Salisbury

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He reported it would be smart to research on how to manage and mitigate the infestation of stink bugs. This is because plants are important for the wellbeing of lives and the environment. He encouraged people to always be vigilant and expect possibility of a future threat. They can then prepare for the worst outcomes presented by the bugs.

Staying ready is important. Anyone with a garden, a yard, or a plantation should always check for any signs of the bug. Thorough inspection of bushes and leafy sections is key. Look for signs of their eggs as well. Part of your gardening process should involve such a thorough inspection.

17. What you should do

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In a season like spring people are more active. Some people want to play in the sun, by the beach or take rejuvenating walks in the park. Some people use this time to improve areas around the home that might look a bit neglected. Some clear the yard as preparation for summer.

A lot of gardening happens around this time as well. As you go about gardening, also look for the bugs’ eggs. If all homeowners gardening and mowing lawns at this time are keen enough to eliminate the eggs and bugs, it will lower their spread. USFWS however has something to say about ‘spring cleaning.’

18. USFWS

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Fish and Wildlife Service warns yard owner, farmers, and gardeners about the impact of their actions on the environment. The organization´s main role is to conserve wildlife and plants in America.They therefore protect natural habitats of various species. Their mission is: collaboration with others to conserve and protect fish, plants, wildlife, and their habitats.

The goal is to benefit the residents of America. They operate from Falls Church, Virginia. They have 8 regional offices and 700 field offices. Their workforce has 9,000 people. The fact that U.S. wildlife and fish mostly live on private and non-federal state land means USFWS work with private organizations.

19. Scope of work

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The agency works with such groups to restore, conserve, and protect wildlife. They encourage the public to take part in wildlife conservation efforts. They reach out to the people in U.S. through their social media profiles. In Facebook they have a huge following making this an appropriate medium to pass the message to as many people as possible.

They use social media platforms to educate masses on environmental conservation. They give them action points they can take individually to contribute to the larger objective. The USFWS dedicates the spring time to spreading information on how to care for nests. Read more on the next page.

20. Wildlife and habitats

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The organization reveals birds have a difficult time raising their young. The public can help them to be as close to comfortable as they can get by keeping their nests safe. They can do this by keeping off and avoiding planned destructions of trees or shrubs with bird nests.

This has been their message since 2016 when they posted on their website how maintaining distance from these nests helps the birds to feel safe. When birds feel threatened they fly away and abandon their young. Interfering with nests prevents the birds from the taking care of nestlings. Find out more on the next page.

21. Birds and spring

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Spring in North America is a time when birds find their mates. The birds prepare to raise their young during this period as well. Meaning they build new nests or reinforce old ones to enable them to hold eggs and young ones once hatched. Homeowners with gardens and yards or farmers with trees on their land usually find nests in spring.

The USFWS informs the population nests are protected by the law as active breeding sites. The nests hold eggs and babies later. Anyone who destroys or destroys active bird’s nests is breaking the law. A special permit is mandatory if you have to move the nest.

22. Laws

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There are protected bird species with strict rules governing their habitats. For instance, one cannot destroy, move or disturb a golden, or bald eagle’s nest. If a person is caught breaking this law, fines of close to 500, 000 more or less apply. The nests, occupied or not, should not be interfered with.

Such laws are important for the birds to have a place to live. The bald eagle for example returns to the same nest every year. They make their nests, huge and sturdy for habitation and to raise young ones. The largest known eagle nest is 20 feet deep and weighs two tons.

23. The big size

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It is easy to recognize an eagle’s nest and therefore avoid disturbing it when weeding or planting in the garden. Small nests are easier to destroy accidentally because they are hidden inside weeds, shrubs, or between branches.

The USFWS were genuinely concerned about the high chances of gardeners destroying multiple nests and the eggs in them during springtime. They advised them to be keen when tending to back shrubs in form of trimming and pruning because birds will likely build nests in such areas. There are some bird eggs as small as the thumbnail. Only the keenest gardener will notice.

24. The small size

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Small birds can be as light as 15 grams and their eggs half a gram. The small birds make small nests the size of a ping pong ball. They lay the small eggs here to incubate them until they hatch. During this period the mother bird protects the nest and eggs from possible harm from predators, for example bigger birds.

This continues blithely even after the eggs hatch. For example, some of the birds that lay tiny eggs are the hummingbirds. This bird is common throughout the Americas. Garden owners should be careful not to destroy their eggs or nests on their property.

25. Nest construction

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The nests are usually made of leaves, twigs, fibers, grass, cobwebs and the foundation. The foundation can be made of shrubs or, for example, a tree canopy. The materials used allow the nests to expand to accommodate the young birds once they finally hatch.

Female birds usually build nests from 10-90 feet above the ground. A bird can lay two eggs and care for the two young ones each time. The nest she builds accommodates these two little ones. The nest cannot fit any more birds. A humming bird continues to care for the young ones in the nest, which therefore holds three birds.

26. Hatchling care

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Using the example of a humming bird, the mother takes care of the young one in the nest. She flies out to look for food. Food can be fruit seeds or worms or nectar or insects depending on the bird. Hummingbirds feed on nectar. The ‘loads’ of sugar helps to sustain their high metabolism.

The hummingbird collects food and flies back to feed the baby bird. They also feed on insects to boost their strength and body growth. The humming bird looks for small insects like greenflies to feed the young one too. They feed on bug eggs as well.

27. Shelter

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Baby birds need the shelter of nests to shield them against cold weather and rain. If protected against the elements, they have a high chance of survival. Most mother birds perch themselves above the hatchlings to provide warmth and as a shield against harsh weather.

The first 18 to 30 days after hatching are always the most exhausting for the mother birds. They have to take care of the young around the clock and help them grow stronger every day. After 30 days, the young birds are fledged. They no longer need constant attention. On the next page, you’ll learn more about how fast they grow.

28. Growth

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They look cute, don’t they? Have a look at the photo. Baby hummingbirds growing makes their nests expand to accommodate the increase in size. Birds are intellectual architects and contractors of their habitats. The spider silk and dried grasses and leaves offer ample flexibility.

The twigs reinforce the structure of the nest for sturdiness. Twigs are usually bendy, so they also aid in the ability of the nest to stretch when the young ones grow. The bird keeps patching the nest up with more leaves and grass to reinforce it as the young birds grow. Find out more about that on the next page.

29. Hard to spot nests

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The nests of such small birds as the hummingbird are often quite difficult to discover. Mostly they are hidden from the surroundings by leaves and branches, js downright camouflaged. One could easily mistake the small nest for a part of a branch. It is only logical that birds choose such well-hidden areas to build their nests, as they are optimally protected from prey and harsh weather conditions.

So look for nests in your garden in the dense bushes, under overgrown shrubs and branch forks. When gardening, be sure to keep a close eye on the nests so that the eggs, some of which are tiny, do not simply break by accident.

30. Testing stability

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The birds, before they even begin the building project, test the strength of the surface on which they intend to build their nest by repeatedly landing on it. When this testing of the foundation’s suitability is successfully completed, they select a site that appears to be suitable.

The initial test of strength is important because the foundation must also support the nest, the eggs, the fledglings when they hatch, and the mother in terms of weight. Would you have thought how complicated it must be for such a little animal to find a suitable place first? All the worse if this nest built with love is destroyed by carelessness.

31. Hummingbirds are lightweight

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Fortunately for hummingbirds and other small birds, most surfaces they find do end up being sturdy enough to support their usually light weight. They can comfortably and safely accommodate a nest of nestlings and their mother. As a result, the birds find the strangest places that seem suitable for nest building: it’s not uncommon to discover nests on the occasional clothesline at home or on decorative outdoor light strings.

But they can also build nests on other objects around the house. These include basketball nets, goal posts and security cameras. Can’t be done, doesn’t exist in this case. One more reason to walk through her garden with open eyes.

32. Look everywhere

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Hummingbirds can build nests on top of plants in your garden. The cactus is popular for this purpose. The spikes of the plant offer extra protection from preys. When moving items around in spring to prepare the yard for summer, it is important to look at everything first before lifting or dragging them away.

There is high likelihood of finding a nest. If you find one, it would be in the best interest of the bird if you just leave it be. You will also be a law abiding citizen by doing this as the low protects active bird nests.

33. Law abiding

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Aside from being a law-abiding citizen, leaving the nests is your personal, valuable contribution to wildlife and bird conservation. It’s best to put yourself in their shoes, or rather, their claws.

If you come home from work one day and find your house uprooted, imagine the huge frustration: Birds feel the exact same stress of coming back from foraging or finding more grass and leaves to reinforce the nest while waiting for eggs to hatch and suddenly finding no nest. The law prevents this from happening to all birds, including hummingbirds. To become homeless just because the environment is careless, that should not happen to man or animal in life, what do you think?

34. Threats upon hummingbirds

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Currently, 15% of all hummingbird species are threatened with extinction as scary as it unfortunately sounds. Imagine that the hummingbirds, to which you are so accustomed by now, will no longer or more concretely never fly around in your garden and yard. A life without hummingbirds. For this reason, these unique birds depend on your help, care and protection, which they desperately need to survive.

Hummingbirds are fascinating, to say the least. They are the only birds with the ability to fly backwards instead of just forward. Their wings pray up to 5400 times per minute when they fly. Their name is a kind of onomatopoeia, because it actually comes from the sound their wings make when they fly.

35. A quick flying bird needs nest rest

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However, such a small, delicate hummingbird consumes a lot of energy during its flight, measured against its body size. After such a journey, they prefer to retreat immediately to their cozy little nest and rest there for hours. Despite the long resting periods, they do not escape the attention of ambitious birdwatchers during their excursions, of course, because they belong to the smallest birds and are therefore always extremely interesting to observe.

The smallest hummingbird species is the so-called bee hummingbird. An adult specimen is only one centimeter long and weighs two grams. Try to visualize this miniature dimension. A little bird made to live in a dollhouse.

36. Small body big brains

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The hummingbird is really tiny. But he is also tremendously smart, considering how he builds his nest and thereby protects his beloved young. His brain is not the only great quality he has, he also has a big heart. In the truest sense of the word.

The heart of the hummingbird is the largest of all animals in relation to its body, and precisely because of this it has tremendous strength. The migrations of these little powerhouses are also truly impressive: in 20 hours of flight time, these impressive birds cover a fabulous distance of 500 miles without any problems. They fly all these hours, almost a full day and night, without resting once.

37. An active bird needs their balanced diet

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The natural feeding habits of hummingbirds are as fascinating as their extraordinary ability to fly non-stop for 20 hours at a time. So, of course, they first need the energy to fly so fast. Their small, very long tongues are perfectly adapted to their feeding needs.

They contract and expand up to 13 times every second, allowing them to eat thousands of insects and insect eggs every day. The birds also feed on nectar because they need the sugar it contains as a quick source of energy. To see the extremely fast moving tongue of the hummingbird you would have to watch a video sequence in slow motion.

38. Hummingbirds should be kept safe

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If you could decide this on your own, wouldn’t you want all those hummingbirds to fly into your backyard, create their species-appropriate habitats, mate regularly, and then hatch their eggs to raise their young in comfort and safety?

Especially now that the population of these incredible birds is gradually declining, everyone needs to take responsibility for our planet: Carefully and thoroughly check for nests or eggs in your trees, bushes, and items at home before doing anything about them. We all benefit from the biodiversity of the animal world and want our children and grandchildren to get to know the hummingbird not only from books but live.

39. Humming bird vs stinking bug

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What you keep, what you lose. Naturally, you want to get rid of all those nasty, destructive, and to make matters worse, smelly bugs in your garden as soon as possible. The enthusiasm to do so may make you want to rush the process, spray all the plants and objects in your garden, or prune all the leafy shrubs.

But before you embark on the sensible task of ridding your garden of bugs, please engage your mind and calmly and patiently look for hummingbird nests first. Otherwise, you may end up with no more stinky bugs in your beautiful garden, but you will also have to do without the dainty, enchanting hummingbirds that have, as it were, come to harm in their rage.

40. In conclusion

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Nature and wildlife are important and conserving them is a great way to maintain this importance. The hummingbirds are part of nature. They can even help you clear out the bug issue by hunting and feeding on the bug eggs present in your yard.

They are also beautiful to look at, so you should try as much as possible to make your environment suitable if they have their nests here already. To add to their pool of food supply, trim your shrubs, but leave all flower intact. They need the nectar. This was our article, and we hope you liked it.