North Carolina: Stink Bugs Looking for Overwintering Sites

Image from Rutgers University

It has been a long hot dry summer for Caldwell County. The last day of summer was officially September 23, it is now fall. The weather prediction is a mild wet fall. I hope this is true. It certainly seems like we got a break this week. Below is information I hope will be helpful for gardeners and homeowners.

Question: What can I do about stink bugs? They were in my house last year.

Answer: When I think of fall, I think of all the homeowners that have called the Caldwell Extension Center about stink bugs problems. Specifically the problem is the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

Shorter days and cool temperatures are signaling the brown marmorated stink bugs to look for overwintering sites.

Shorter days and cool temperatures are signaling the brown marmorated stink bugs to look for overwintering sites.

Right how these creatures are starting to look for overwintering sites. They like to overwinter in man-made structures. Lady bugs and kudzu bugs have a similar habit too.

I’m going to give the same advice I’ve given since this exotic invasive pest first showed up in Caldwell County. Seal up cracks in your house. Use caulk and weather stripping to keep the BMSB from getting into your home. This will help with your energy bill too. Exclusion is the first step.

If there is a need to apply an insecticide, do it on the outside of your house before the BMSB enter your home. Once they are in your house, insecticides are not an effective option. Select a product with active ingredient “bifenthrin”. Before making an application, wait until BMSB arrive at your home. Insecticides will be effective for a few days at controlling BMSB. Wait until you see them on your home before making an application.

Question: I have a golden delicious apple tree and it has had cedar rust this year. Any solutions?

Answer: Cedar apple rust is a disease of apples caused by Gymnosporangium species. The disease requires two host plants. Like the name implies, it needs a cedar and an apple (or crab apple) tree for this disease to be a problem. Eastern red cedar is the typical cedar tree that is the alternate host, but other junipers can help this disease complete its life cycle.

Wind currents move the disease from cedar trees to apple trees and then back to the cedar. This disease is a problem wherever susceptible apples and cedar trees are grown together.

In the spring, the disease causes raised orange/yellow spots on leaves. In severe cases leaves will drop from the tree and cause reduced bloom the next season. Fruit can be infected, but typically in Caldwell County this is not a problem since the fruit forms after the leaves are already infected.

One easy way to stop this disease is simply plant resistant apple varieties. My favorites resistant apples are Jonagold, Pinklady, and Winesap. Another option is to remove Eastern red cedars from the area. If the disease warrants chemical control, mancozeb (do not apply after bloom), myclobutanil, or sulfur are good choices. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

If you have agricultural questions, please contact the Caldwell Extension Center at 828-757-1290 or visit us anytime at ( We are here to help.

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