VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Why Is the Cold U.S. Winter Killing Off Stinkbugs?

Humans aren’t the only species bugging out from the polar vortex, the winter weather system that’s still menacing large swaths of the United States with bone-chilling temperatures. 

Be glad you’re not an Asian stinkbug, which are dying off in large numbers due to the cold, a new experiment shows. The invasive insectcommonly called the brown marmorated stinkbug, has been plaguing homes and devouring agricultural crops in 38 states for years. (Related: “Stinkbug Threat Has Farmers Worried.”)

stinkbug picture
Photograph by Vishall Kaistha, Your Shot

Thomas Kuhar, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, and his team have been gathering stinkbugs for the past three years near his campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, to use in lab experiments. The bugs spend the winter outside in insulated buckets that mimic the walls, shingles, and attics that they inhabit when the temperature drops.

That normally works out quite well for the bugs—but this year stinkbugs have been, well, dropping like flies.

“In the previous two years, natural mortality averaged about 20-25 percent,” he wrote in an email. In January 2014, however, Kuhar’s team discovered that the subfreezing temperatures had killed off 95 percent of the population.

Normally the bugs have a twofold strategy for dealing with cold weather: first holing up in those walls or attics, and then activating cryoprotectants in their body that act like antifreeze, explained Kuhar. (See video: “How Arctic Frogs Survive Being Frozen Alive.”)

But Kuhar’s recent observations suggest that in weather this extreme, the stinkbug’s natural defense mechanisms may not be enough—even though they’re generally better adapted to colder climates.

No Superbugs in Sight

How significant of an impact this year’s unseasonably cold weather will have on stinkbug populations at large remains to be seen.

“I wouldn’t say mass die-offs, but temperatures probably reached lethal levels for many insects,” said Kuhar, who added that the biggest threat to insect populations occurs when temperatures fluctuate drastically—for example, a cold snap after a warming trend.

And in case you’re concerned that stinkbugs that survive the cold could breed and create a race of super-stinkbugs impervious to cold, you probably don’t need to worry. (Also read why a stinkbug makes a good snack.)

Superbugs don’t arise due to weather events like these: Instead, extreme weather probably helps keep species in check and within their usual ranges, Kuhar said.

“This natural selection has been going on for centuries. The bug is established in its current range based on these types of climate restrictions. So, in a sense, really cold temperatures in borderline climate zones probably help maintain the distributions of species,” he said.

So while you’re digging out your car and shaking your fist at the sky during this never-ending winter, spare a thought for the stinkbug. It could be worse.

Follow Stefan Sirucek on Twitter.


  1. Elisheva
    October 10, 2016, 2:28 pm

    If you are teaching your son about God and his creatures you may also want to teach yourself and your son about Satan & his creatures! These demonic critters are destroying crops that feed humans! Stop saving the wolf in stink bug clothing(sheep)!

  2. Mark Williams
    Bethel Park, PA
    March 29, 2016, 1:19 pm

    I hate the stink bugs since winter ended a short while ago here. There was one stink bug in my window and 6 others buzzing around my room also. There was one that was moving along my wire to my laptop one time, I grabbed a kleenex and then lost it but eventually, I killed it. Now that the season is approaching Summer soon, I will be dealing with thousand leggers also. Life is not going well with new insects in my town here, so I have to deal with it.

  3. A
    April 24, 2014, 5:16 pm

    Irene Plonka,

    At least stink bugs don’t give their neighbors respiratory problems like wood stoves. I can’t wait until PA passes some ordinances against hillbilly wood stoves.

  4. Rose Marie Mezzapeso
    Poland, OH
    April 15, 2014, 11:20 am

    There is nothing that will kill these bugs off. We find them in our home all year long.

  5. mh WBT
    Phila Suburbs
    March 29, 2014, 9:32 am

    No shortage of stinkbugs here. They survived the deep cold temps we had this winter and have been popping out all winter in the house. And they seem to release their stink even when dead or being flushed alive. Maybe they will migrate outdoors with spring but I am not hopeful

  6. Irene Plonka
    Pittsburgh, Pa
    March 11, 2014, 7:08 am

    This article is bull****. We have had stinkbugs for 7-8 years and each year they get worse. This year, our coldest in years, they have been here since September and keep coming. (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
    We catch numerous bugs daily (I use a Coke bottle with the
    top cut off and inverted and taped inside the bottom) They
    usually do not stink and they can be in there for a few weeks and eventually die. Then I discard the bottle and make another one. ‘
    Before coming up with the “catcher” we caught them with a piece of tp and into the wood stove fire they went.
    If you surprise them quickly and discard, they do not have time to “spray” Even when not threatened sometimes they leave drops of brown liquid on walls and curtains though.
    They do not eat or drink, I do not understand how they are alive Birds do not like them but spiders will trap them in webs and devour them.
    Not much of a choice, stinkbugs or spiders? Could that be why we have had giant spiders lately. ?
    By catching them at least I am cutting down on their
    reproductive numbers. Imagine how many we would have if we followed the SC mom who has a sanctuary and will
    release them outside when it gets warm !!!!

  7. Mama Marie
    March 7, 2014, 9:34 am

    I hate stinkbugs! I’m convinced that my dog ate one and got very sick. $ 500 vet bill!!! I vacuum and flush every day. Glad to see them go.

  8. lorinda
    south Carolina
    March 6, 2014, 2:31 pm

    When did the stinkbug becone a political symbol? What is with the political statements?

  9. lorinda
    south Carolina
    March 6, 2014, 2:27 pm

    We created a stinkbug sanctuary in our home. It is a 400 gal upright fishtank converted into a preserve for them. I have seen them around, but this year there has been tripple the amount. They are in my closets, shoes, crawling on the floor, everywhere. I have a five year old who I want to respect nature. Normally we catch them and take them outside, but being it so cold my son was con cc erned. Hence the home for stinkbugs. Dont worr
    Y we do the same for ladybugs when they invade in summer. We will let the bugs out when the weather decides to stay warm.

  10. Erik J Nadolink
    Nashua NH United States
    March 2, 2014, 3:52 pm

    R.I.P. Stinkbugs

  11. Dave
    March 1, 2014, 12:02 pm

    Nobody else noticed this little comment? — “(Also read why a stinkbug makes a good snack.)”

    Maybe for the cat, but most certainly not for me.

    I always thought squashing the little buggers was what caused the “stink”… As a kid I always heard: “Don’t kill it — it will stink!” Well, with their invasion into my home I’ve discovered that it’s not killing them, it’s simply attacking them that causes the stink. Like a skunk protecting itself. Trying to catch one, chasing it with a tissue, or having it get too near a hot light source (they fly, btw) will cause the bug to give off its smell.

  12. 1220
    Albany NY
    February 28, 2014, 1:27 pm

    Wow peoples reading comprehension is really low.
    After ready a few comments I re-read the article to see if I missed something… Nope

  13. Charlie
    Pacific Northwest
    February 28, 2014, 1:08 pm

    Have you also noticed that stinkbugs are getting LARGER and craftier? Don’t trust them. They’ll do anything to get inside your home!… The other day one rang my doorbell, and when I answered, he wanted to know if he could come in and use my phone… (local call, he said)

  14. Jordan B.
    February 28, 2014, 1:04 pm

    They certainly aren’t tying out in Chattanooga… They were swarming the city last summer, but are still creeping into my house. In the -2 F weather they were still popping up in my house somehow.

  15. susan
    February 28, 2014, 11:16 am

    Stinks bugs have been getting into my house all winter! The one warmer day we had this month — they were already on my patio and screens….no such luck they will disappear from the cold weather…they are inside now.

  16. Raul
    February 28, 2014, 10:42 am

    Maybe it will also send back to Mejico undocumented democrats.

  17. Davole
    Right here
    February 28, 2014, 10:24 am

    Cold US Winter Killing Off Stinkbugs – thankfully there will be fewer of them voting democrat in the mid-term federal election this November!

  18. heysus
    February 28, 2014, 9:41 am

    just god correcting error when human mess up

  19. Mike Donovan
    February 28, 2014, 9:30 am

    Oh my want will the EPA and the Sierra Club Environmental Nazis do? My, my, I can see the headline now – George Bush killed off the stink bugs. Perfect.

  20. Edward Boothe
    February 28, 2014, 8:42 am

    Obama better stay inside for a couple of months.

  21. Paul Weldon
    February 28, 2014, 8:21 am

    “And in case you’re concerned that stinkbugs that survive the cold could breed and create a race of super-stinkbugs impervious to cold, you probably don’t need to worry.”

    Maybe ‘superbug’ is too dramatic a term, but cold-resistance should arise by natural selection here, as has been documented in other organisms. Did the scientist explain why natural selection is suspended in this case?

  22. Twindad46
    United States
    February 28, 2014, 8:10 am

    It’s Bush’s fault.

  23. aubreyfarmer
    February 28, 2014, 7:49 am

    How did Chinese stink bugs get here? Who is responsible? Were they introduced on purpose by some greedy bunch of cork soakers at Monsanto, Bayer or some other internationalist terrorist organization.

  24. Jim
    February 28, 2014, 7:19 am

    Maybe this will rid Washington of the the liberal stink bugs

  25. anthony
    February 28, 2014, 6:26 am

    Now if we could just get rid of the infestation at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, that would really cut down on the STINKBUG Population….

  26. Megan
    February 28, 2014, 6:22 am

    Dear Stinkbug Massacre,

    “Spare a thought for the stinkbug.” You ever hear of sarcasm? 😛

  27. Norm
    February 28, 2014, 3:05 am

    Oh No !!!! Does this mean Obama will have another excuse not to start our part of the KEYSTONE pipe line?

  28. Miss Speller
    February 28, 2014, 1:58 am

    If you like your stinkbugs, you can keep your stinkbugs. Period

  29. Charlie
    Pacific Northwest
    February 28, 2014, 1:08 am

    Like the old saying goes, “The only good stinkbug is a dead stinkbug!”

  30. Martindale Jeff
    February 28, 2014, 12:58 am

    Why doesn’t this work on old fossil Politicians ?

  31. jojopittsburg
    United States
    February 28, 2014, 12:48 am

    Can anyone answer this for me? I am curious. I have heard that far more species die from cold than from heat on planet Earth. Including HUMANS. If so, shouldn’t we be rooting for the Earth to warm by 1 degrees over the next 100 years as predicted (but which doesn’t seem to be occuring for the last 17 years)? I just don’t know why global warming is considered so much worse than global cooling, because if the Earth isn’t warming, it’s cooling, right? It is always doing one or the other?

  32. JohnFLob
    February 27, 2014, 11:56 pm

    What BUGS me is the STINK the opportunists vocalize about AGW (a.k.a. climate change).

  33. John
    Binghamton NY
    February 27, 2014, 11:08 pm

    Ticks they are the real problem and I hope they are gone upstate New York and all of the places that have the problem.

  34. Catherine
    Atlanta, GA
    February 27, 2014, 10:57 pm

    this year my condo has been invaded by these critters for the 1st time in 20 years here; I’ve killed about 10 in the past few months-Mother Nature, I appreciate the help!!

  35. lily darcey
    February 27, 2014, 10:33 pm

    Oh NO!!!!! Does this mean the Democratic Party is DOOMED and may really face extinction.? Oh well cest la vie.

  36. Spitball
    February 27, 2014, 10:25 pm

    If you like your stinkbugs, you can keep your stinkbugs. Period!

  37. dave-0
    February 27, 2014, 9:20 pm

    They, and lady bugs, have been invading my house ever since December. They die within a few days. I don’t dare smash them!

  38. Tom
    Mclean, Virginia
    February 27, 2014, 8:47 pm


  39. TonyG
    February 27, 2014, 8:28 pm

    No they are still around . . . Just look Washington DC, they are everywhere.

  40. Chris Bowen
    Reno, Nv
    February 27, 2014, 8:26 pm

    Stinkbugs are people too!

  41. Albert Gore, Jr.
    FatCatsville, TN
    February 27, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I told you so.

  42. John Holmes
    February 27, 2014, 7:37 pm

    Too bad it’s not cold enough to wipe out all the illegal aliens.

  43. Silverfawn
    February 27, 2014, 7:20 pm

    Yea! Less pests in my garden this year. Hope the cold gets the ants, gnats and ticks as well.

  44. Stinkbug Massacre
    Stinkbug, USA
    February 27, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Spare a thought for the stinkbug? Are you out of your damm mind?? They are non-native and contribute nothing but destruction to the north american eco-system. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Guess what? They are bad for the environment. Do you have any idea how many extra toilet flushes occur to flush the carcasses of these vermin out of people’s homes ????

  45. Jason
    Texas Y'all
    February 27, 2014, 6:01 pm

    Wait a minute…this is exactly the same type scenario my paleontology professor said is used by natural selection evolution to improve a species…. and now they say it has no effect? Something is fishy here and it’s not crawling on shore.

  46. Geoff Caldwell
    February 27, 2014, 4:51 pm

    QUICK, where’s Al Gore. We MUST know whether this is a result of man made climate change and develop a plan to save the lil stinkers!

  47. Allen West
    February 27, 2014, 4:44 pm

    I think it was in the 70’s we had man-made global cooling that was to destroy the earth. Then it turned into man-made-global-warning that was going to destroy the earth. So, libs when are you going to start yelling – man-made-global-cooling will destroy the earth again. What a bunch of fools.

  48. dano
    Custer Park Il
    February 27, 2014, 4:39 pm

    To bad the ones in D.C. wern’t affected.

  49. TexMex
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 4:23 pm

    I wasn’t aware that it was that cold in D.C.!!!!!

  50. Thomas
    Santa Clara, CA
    February 27, 2014, 4:05 pm

    Wait a minute. Did this author FORGET the beginning of their own article? This is an INVASIVE and non indigenous species of insect that’s destroying American Crops and Plants and infesting homes for 38 years. Them dying off is a GOOD THING! Why is the author worried about their well being? This is great news. Now if we could control all of the other non-native invasive species that destroy crops or our own native animals.

  51. ranch111
    February 27, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Good riddance.

  52. David
    February 27, 2014, 3:37 pm

    The common honeybee is also not a native species of North America.

  53. Edwardo
    castle rock, colo
    February 27, 2014, 3:13 pm

    you could kill off every stinkbug, and skunk and they would still reside in Wash. Dc!

  54. indentured serfant
    February 27, 2014, 3:01 pm

    The 5% that survive do so not because of their ‘better’ genetics but rather they’ve found a slightly warmer place to spend the winter than the rest of them. Sort of like if there was a nuclear holocaust, the survivors will continue on because they stayed in bomb shelters with adequate food, not because they have better genes.

  55. tea isstronger
    February 27, 2014, 2:54 pm


    I have over a thousand in my basement. I am waiting till spring to let them loose near apple and peach orchards in my area.

  56. Charles
    February 27, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Would be really interesting to have columns like this evaluated for accuracy in future articles.

    So many times things are published and you wonder if the predictions or guesses really happen.

  57. irish colleen
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 2:46 pm

    I am not weeping over their demise. I had never heard about stink bugs until last year when we were returning home and a swarm of them landed on our car. This was in PA. We DO NOT need them in NC, thank you.
    Had heard nothing could kill them. Mother Nature rectifying an error.

  58. David Hedricks
    February 27, 2014, 2:40 pm

    Nah, Congress is still alive and well …

  59. Mike M
    February 27, 2014, 2:33 pm

    JIM – Ladybugs smell? They like to nest in walls over the winter but I let them because they’re beneficial to humans. I’ve never smelled anything bad from them though; are you certain it’s them?

  60. Dave Kugler
    February 27, 2014, 2:32 pm

    I have been told chickens love to eat stinkbugs. My personal experience is this: two years ago we were overrun, I found some trees they liked (Mimosas) and sprayed Tempo SC Ultra on them. I had almost no stink bugs the following year (this past summer) good luck!

  61. Roy G Biv
    Stinkbug Central
    February 27, 2014, 2:32 pm

    There are plenty of stinkbugs in DC. They seem to be as impervious to the cold as they are to work. There is little hope.

  62. John
    Calgary, Alberta
    February 27, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Jim at 12:28. Those ‘ladybugs’ that stink probably aren’t ladybugs. You’re likely talking about Asian Beetles… they look like lady bugs (more orange) and smell bad.

  63. Mike M
    February 27, 2014, 2:29 pm

    As much as I hope stinkbugs all die, I’m more perplexed by how little birds don’t lose their tiny claws to frostbite when it’s -10F at night? Is there anti-freeze in their blood?

  64. Franklin Jacoby
    February 27, 2014, 2:20 pm

    wishing it does the same for the Congress and the Senate

  65. darko714
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 2:05 pm

    As insects, their reproductive rate will take care of 90 percent of the losses by July 4.

  66. Kira McIntosh
    February 27, 2014, 1:45 pm

    I never saw these beasts until last summer. Relieved I am not the only one who certainly knows what they are now! Every A.M., bug check, catch, kill, stop cats from thinking they are toys. Yuch!

  67. Jarrod R. R. Harvey
    February 27, 2014, 1:44 pm

    This entomological death event can clearly be linked to man’s carbonistic assault on the earth. The warming earth is pushing the cold into smaller areas, which makes those areas colder than normal through simple coldensification.

    Eventually the cold will lose this war with the hot and will dissapear altogether. The heat will then condense into a nucleo-heated thermoplasmistic superfusion within an area the size of an average grapefruit and the earth will explode.

    If we would just listen to Dr. Gore the earth could be saved. He only wants $775 million and a knighthood…a small price to pay if you ask me.

  68. Brett Champion
    February 27, 2014, 1:41 pm


    There’s a reason why the article refers to them as the “Asian” stinkbug: these animals are not native to North America. As such, from an environmentalist’s standpoint, they should be eradicated from this area.

  69. guest
    The guest house
    February 27, 2014, 1:26 pm

    How do you know if a stinkbug is dead? Do you have teeny tiny fingers to check for a pulse? They may seem dead but an hour later and a little warmth and they’re crawling around again.

  70. picklejuice
    February 27, 2014, 12:54 pm

    Wow! If only it would have the effect on Democrats, the stinkiest stink bugs in existence.

  71. JIM
    Carroll Co Md
    February 27, 2014, 12:28 pm

    What about the influx of Ladybugs the last few years. Will this cold weather reduce their #s? IMO they stink worse than Stinkbugs.

  72. davo
    in the void
    February 27, 2014, 12:21 pm

    Had 6 or 7 show up at my house near Louisville, Kentucky this winter. Had never seen them inside before. Several have been found dead (dried out) in corners where the ceiling and wall come together. The live ones didn’t like the vacuum cleaner. We don’t really need them around here, please try to keep them in NC and VA.

  73. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha
    Clinton, USA
    February 27, 2014, 12:16 pm

    This winter cold is an ecological killer. the number of foliage alone is going to be astronomical. It may already have destroyed or negatively effected our agriculture. As for bugs I would guess any eggs from any creature would have been destroyed by now. That would mean from ticks, Mosquitoes, cockroaches, reptiles, spiders, etc. would die from this extra long cold spell.

  74. Bmoreskyandsea
    February 27, 2014, 11:40 am

    Have you all ever thought that the reason you are seeing more IN the house is because they need to retreat further into warmth? So you are more likely to see them versus other winters when they are in attics and such? Doesn’t negate the fact that the overall population may be decreasing (YAY!)

  75. howard feinski
    February 27, 2014, 11:35 am

    Gosh, aren’t these little animals essential to the environment? Shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to protecting their falling numbers? At least if we want to stay up with the knowledgeable environmentalists.

  76. Heidi
    Roanoke, Va
    February 27, 2014, 10:56 am

    I’m glad for cold winters, as I think that’s what also keeps the tick population in check. Lately, we’ve noticed ticks all year round.

    As for the stinkers. I have not noticed any impact from this extra-cold winter. In fact, I have seen more stinkbugs than ever in my house this winter. As a result, I am expecting a busier than usual stinkbug spring – at least here.

    Your article gives me a little hope that I may be wrong. And I continue to have high hopes for fewer ticks.

  77. Steve
    February 27, 2014, 10:50 am

    WHO CARES. No one likes the damned things because THEY STINK.

  78. William Holt
    February 27, 2014, 10:39 am

    Do we have to talk about stinkbugs?

  79. Middletown
    February 27, 2014, 10:36 am

    Historically we call the “votex” Winter. but to each generation their own i guess.
    I find this as good news. These bugs will cover your home. you will find them in every area of your house come fall. especially during a warm fall. maybe thats an equatorial votex?

  80. GlobalWrench
    February 27, 2014, 10:01 am

    The link between the active toxic geo-engineering programs and the elevated extinction rates are a well documented cause.

    Unfortunately this reality is not being discussed:


  81. nc
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 9:37 am

    Watch out, the greenepeace, the weather chanel, Bill Nye, you name it tree hugger group…will declare Winter a Stink-Bug Discriminator and ban Winter.

  82. James Mccorkle
    February 27, 2014, 9:31 am

    Stephan, you need to take a census down here, I have noticed a sharp increase in the number of these critters from previous years.. Everything we had put up for winter storage(outdoors) has been overrun with these bugs under the tarps, within motors, under shelters etc. A lot of dead ones but a lot of survivors too. stinky!

  83. JonInVa
    Northern Virginia
    February 27, 2014, 9:30 am

    I don’t think the ones in our house got the memo.

  84. Stephanie
    February 27, 2014, 9:28 am

    What a coincidence reading this. My house seems to have a very smart stink bug as he has been in the house all winter, survived two cats, being batted by the cats down the heating vent, and even came up to me one day and sat on the couch cushion next to me as I was having lunch like “hello”. Lol Too funny. Smart little bug there, as he seems to have become almost like a pet in a way. Always glad to see him still surviving. I’m almost sure it’s just the one, as he goes to the same places over and over, and have never seen two at once, also I don’t see him for days or a week or so, and then he’s back.

  85. Chris
    February 27, 2014, 9:23 am

    Best news I’ve heard all week! I’ve also raised a flock of guinea fowl, they love to eat stinkbugs and hunt them down. Long term we need more native birds and insects to eat stinkbugs and keep them in check.

  86. James D McKelvey
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 9:10 am

    Now . . .what about those invading and ever-present lady bugs from Asia?? I hope they are also being converted to fertilizer with our polar vortex cold.

  87. S
    February 27, 2014, 9:07 am

    In your scenario the genes that are likely getting passed on aren’t ones that allow them to withstand colder temperatures, but rather ones that better allow them to find/infiltrate warmer areas.
    And even then, it takes tens/hundreds/thousands of generations for this to have a statistically measurable impact on their survival.
    Another possibility is that those 5% “lucky” stinkbugs have some specific body formation that is slightly different than the other 95%. Over those hundreds of generation that abnormality becomes more and more pronounced, until eventually you have a subspecies. In 50-100 years there likely be significant differences between the Asian variety of this bug and the “American” one. Even now, since only a few of these bugs immigrated over, representing only a tiny 0.001% of the total Asian population, have already started a significant fork. A skilled entomologist will probably be able to differentiate between an “american” and “asian” one in the next few decades due to slight differences becoming more and more pronounced as generations pass it on.

    This could be any number of things, from a slightly different color pattern, to a longer legs, larger average body size, slightly different diet preference, or even *possibly* better cryoprotectants.

    Its more or less random though.

  88. Sandy Harlan
    Eastern Pennsylvania
    February 27, 2014, 9:04 am

    Every day a stink bug appears in my house..somedays up to 3. They never showed like this during the winter before.
    Why? Are they trying to get warmer since our attic has beenextra cold

  89. GoldenRudy
    February 27, 2014, 9:03 am

    Well, the cold is not killing off the “stinkbugs” in DC.

  90. Jethro Can Cipher
    February 27, 2014, 8:50 am

    I just came from a conference where I saw Thomas speak…this article is incorrect – -They keep various kinds of bugs in buckets outside their lab at VT during the winter as part of their research; this winter, almost all of the brown marmorated stinkbugs (BMSB) in the (exposed, unprotected) buckets died. THIS IS NOT representative of the bugs survival in the wild, as BMSB like to overwinter in protected areas. A reporter calls Kuhar and asks him a few questions; in one of his answers, he mentions that the BMSB they have at the lab had died…..He NEVER said that this years winter was going to kill them off.
    This is a perfect example of journalistic integrity; remember that next time you read an article that’s based on “research”.

  91. JB
    February 27, 2014, 8:48 am

    This kind of event may not result in a physical (genetic) change – but it could result in a behavioral (epigenetic) change. Those bugs that seek out more sheltered areas to hibernate survive. They may produce offspring that will more likely be behaviorally wired to “burrow deeper,” as it were. So it is possible to see a shift in adaptive behavior due to this cold winter.

    Only time will tell, and only if we continue to have colder winters – but it would be interesting to run lab experiments on the question.

    In any case, it looks like we will at least have one summer with significantly reduced stinkbug populations. That is a plus.

  92. crazyredneck
    February 27, 2014, 8:45 am

    I wonder if the stink bug’s cousin, the leaf footed bug, is being affected by the cold temps we’ve had in Texas this winter. Wouldn’t break my heart if I don’t have them destroying my vegetables this spring/summer.

  93. Al b
    February 27, 2014, 8:43 am

    Stop saying polar vortex. It is Not a polar anything. That implies magnetism or opposites. It is an arctic blast of cold air normally associated with winter. Dont believe me, head south of the equator in a few months! Global warming religious nutbags are trying to create yet another over-the-top reaction to normal weather experiences here on earth. You scientists thought you were changing the world but quickly realized you are just studying the weather and farmers almanac had it mostly figures out back in the 1800’s. change your jobs and go back to your garage bands. You’ll be famous then, honest as “climate change!”

  94. The Bobster
    February 27, 2014, 8:33 am

    That’s load of crap. These disgusting Asian imports have been crawling into my house over the past month.

  95. tdrag
    February 27, 2014, 8:30 am

    No doubt this has to be a national crisis.

  96. Greg
    February 27, 2014, 8:27 am

    Andrew is close to the truth. Natural selection has a component of luck as well. Whether it was by chance or by some bug intelligence, some of these creatures happen to choose the right place to be at the right time. The survivors do have the advantage of passing along “their” individual mutations although not directly related to their strength. The other 95% do not.

    The other thing to mention here: So I guess climate change may have some positive effects?

  97. Indiana Gividen
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 8:22 am

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Stink bugs are not immobile. They will simply move to safer locations.

  98. Scott
    February 27, 2014, 8:06 am

    If you plan on leaving your house for an extended period of time and you know it’s going to be exceptionally cold should you turn the heat completely off to rid more of the bugs?

  99. Brion Glenn
    United States
    February 27, 2014, 8:03 am

    Good. I’m tired of watching my pets paw at them. Yeah, they got into my house. Lets hope the weather killed off more than just stink bugs (with exception to bee’s). Its been very “buggy” the last few years or so. The lady bugs are the worst where I live. They aren’t going anywhere though. Well, I do vacuum them daily and then a good flush. Kinda sad, Lady Bugs didn’t do me any harm. 😉 But watching them swarm the big windows near my bed makes me creepy crawly. Well, I hope this post was as pleasant for you as it was for me. Have a good day.

  100. padugan
    February 27, 2014, 7:55 am

    This is a good thing. Stink bugs do not belong here. Hopefully this is a first step in their eradication of the US.

  101. james w.
    Morganton, NC
    February 27, 2014, 2:41 am

    Funny to read this article tonight…this whole area, at least, in North Carolina has been experiencing a stinkbug epidemic starting this past year and I’m sure it’s not isolated…no one has every seen anything like the insanely high numbers of bugs we’ve had here, it’s certainly noteworthy…has anyone considered migration?

  102. Wasset Makawa
    February 27, 2014, 12:18 am

    Oh, so THAT’S why our house is infested with stinkbugs now. THANKS, SCIENCE.

  103. Stefan Sirucek
    February 26, 2014, 3:33 pm

    Thanks for your comments guys. As to Andrew’s question I specifically asked the scientist about this and he said that this kind of weather is more likely to control bug populations and restrict their range than to create a race of superbugs that can survive extreme weather conditions. I think Some Guy’s point is also a good one that those bugs that are surviving may be doing so for reasons other than a genetic advantage. (A sight variation in shelter quality etc.) If that’s the case their offspring wouldn’t be any hardier than their predecessors.

  104. America
    February 26, 2014, 3:20 pm

    It isn’t a gene issue that the survivors are alive. They most likely found a warmer place to stay is all. It sounds more like luck. Luck in finding a place to chill without freezing to death.

    “And in case you’re concerned that stinkbugs that survive the cold could breed and create a race of super-stinkbugs impervious to cold, you probably don’t need to worry.

    Superbugs don’t arise due to weather events like these: Instead, extreme weather probably helps keep species in check and within their usual ranges, Kuhar said.”

    Although the article uses the term “probably” I’d say this is most likely.

  105. some guy
    February 26, 2014, 2:40 pm


    The 5% survival rate most likely is correlated to where the bugs are hibernating and not their genetic make-up. For instance, I bet a stink bug could survive in my attached garage that is tucked under my house quite easily no matter what the conditions out side, but they would freeze in a stand alone garage.

  106. Andrew Booth
    February 26, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Is this not how species adapt and evolve?

    95% of stinkbugs may die this year as they are unable to cope with the adverse conditions. However, the 5% that do survive pass on the genes that survive the cold and the new population of stinkbugs emerges stronger and more adapted to the North American climate than before.