January’s Polar Vortex May Be Responsible for Killing 95% of the Population of Stink Bugs

Good news and bad news: It seems that January’s epically-cold Polar Vortex might have wreaked havoc on an insect population, potentially obliterating roughly 95% of them. Scary, right? So, what’s the good news? Well, the good news is that said “insect population” is actually the long-reviled stink bug community.

Yeah, THOSE stink bugs. You know, the creepy-crawly creatures that might look even grosser than they smell? According to a recent research experiment conducted by Virginia Tech, a vast majority of stink bugs residing in the areas that experienced the most frigid temperatures (i.e. the Northeast and the Midwest) might not be coming out to stink up your neighborhood this spring.

Unless you just so happen to love the insect (and, if this is you, you certainly have an unusual taste in animals!), this probably sounds like good news. After all the invasive creatures aren’t generally known to do a lot of good, especially when it comes to supporting our environment. As a matter of fact, insect experts routinely work with the USDA to trap the critters with the help of blue light technology and other cutting-edge traps.

So, it sounds like a win-win, right? Stink bugs are an invasive–and very smelly!–species that no one wants crawling around the United States, so what’s the harm in the little guys having become insect ice cubes? As mentioned, there definitely is no harm, but there are some conflicting opinions on Virginia Tech’s initial report.

According to a piece recently published in the Baltimore Sun, we learn that the estimation that 95% of stink bugs perished in the Polar Vortex might be a gross exaggeration. Sure, the average stink bug could never survive the ice-cold temperatures experienced in many parts of the United States during this time, but chances are, the ones living in the most frigid areas had already cozied up in a warm place for the winter.

Entomologist Thomas Kuhar says that the stink bug is actually a very hearty, opportunistic animal that usually wedges its way between four warm walls long before the winter commences.  “If you had to pick an insect that could survive a winter like this, it would be the stink bug,” said Kuhar. “It has the behavior of seeking shelter.”

Who is to believe? We guess only time will tell. Once the spring thaw is in full swing, we will have a better idea of the current number of stink bugs living in these regions. That said, we definitely choose to believe Virginia Tech’s report. Personally, we much prefer the notion that 95% of stink bugs froze to death during that frigid time in January. There has to be some silver lining to the record-breaking Polar Vortex, after all!

To learn even more about Virginia Tech’s estimation, and to get the scoop on other large numbers of creepy crawlies that might have perished last month, be sure to watch the video below. Bye, bye, stink bugs–we hope!

We’d love to get your take on this stink bug deep freeze. Do you believe that the full 95% perished during the Polar Vortex? Do you have a stink bug problem in your home or community? If so, have you found a way to keep them at bay?