Here come stink bugs and other fall pests

A brown marmorated stink bug. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT
A brown marmorated stink bug. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT

A few weeks ago I mentioned one of fall’s annoying pests, the yellowjackets. While they are still hanging out at picnics and other outdoor gatherings, there are a few other fall pests beginning to gather and seek a winter home.

These include leaffooted bugs, wheel bugs, multi-colored Asian ladybeetles, spiders and the brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB).

The leaffooted or western conifer seed bug is usually seen feeding on cones of conifers such as spruce and pine. Their hind legs have a flat part that resembles a leaf. You are more likely to see these if you have conifers nearby.

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The wheel bug is a species of a large assassin bug and is very cool. It’s easy to identify as it has a cog-like wheel structure on its back. The bug can be anywhere from an inch to one and a fourth inches long.

I had one of these on my shoulder the other day. It’s a predator but does not eat humans! It likes soft-bodied insects such as aphids, as well as caterpillars and moths. It puts its mouth part in the body of the insect and drains the fluid.

While it’s not a predator, it can bite if handled; some say it has a painful bite. Therefore, do not handle them if you see them.

Multi-colored Asian ladybeetles have not shown up in force around my house for several years. These ladybeetles are also predators, feeding on soft-bodied insects. They tend to come around once soybeans are harvested as they may be in the fields eating soybean aphids.

Spiders are building webs with the two main types being the orb weaver and the funnel weaver. The orb weaver is the one that builds the classic geometric-shaped web that catches insects as they fly into it.

The funnel weaver builds a flat mass of web with a funnel placed somewhere around the center of it. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT
The funnel weaver builds a flat mass of web with a funnel placed somewhere around the center of it. CONTRIBUTED/PAMELA BENNETT

The funnel weaver, on the other hand, builds a flat mass of web with a funnel placed somewhere around the center of it. The spider hides in the funnel, waiting prey to land on the web. Once prey lands, the funnel weaver climbs out, captures the prey, and takes it back to the funnel to preserve for later or to consume immediately.

All of these above-mentioned bugs are really not a problem for landscape plants and don’t cause injury to fruits, vegetables or other plants.

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The last one, however, the BMSB, does cause problems to fruits and vegetables. In fact, I have had them feeding on my tomatoes this and last season.

They insert their mouthparts into the fruits and suck the juices. This damage causes speckled spots on the fruit at first, which eventually rot, causing soft spots. They are a non-native invasive species.

All of the above insects seek a warm place to overwinter. As the days get colder, they begin to gather on the warm siding or brick of homes. They eventually find their way into the house and become annoying more than anything else.

For the most part, I don’t worry about them unless they are in large numbers. Some can be swept up with a sweeper and others hand picked and crushed. Keep in mind the BMSB has a distinct smell when crushed; I usually do this outside.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at