The warm, wet spring and hot summer months have created ideal conditions for the explosion of New Jersey insect populations. Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, pill bugs, centipedes, bees, beetles, flies, wasps – everywhere you look insects are crawling, creeping or flying. NJ pest control experts are calling 2011 a record bug summer. The latest insect that is causing a stink in northern New Jersey is the aptly-named stink bug.

Record numbers of stink bugs are being seen in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. State university and Department of Agriculture entomologists who regularly monitor blacklight traps to gauge fluctuations in insect populations are reporting record stink bug counts. According to an online article in Maryland’s Carroll County Times, more than 400 stink bugs per night are being captured in some areas. University of Maryland entomologist Dr. Galen Dively told the Times that stink bug counts this summer are running between 5 and 10 times higher than last summer.

Every year, stink bugs cause significant damage to New Jersey landscape plants and fruit and vegetable crops. Worldwide there are more than 7,000 species of stink bugs, also called shield bugs because of the shape of their carapace, and not all are harmful. NJ pest control companies say the majority of plant damage caused by stink bugs in the U.S. can be traced to a Chinese transplant with a voracious appetite, the brown marmorated stink bug.

First spotted in Pennsylvania in 2001, the brown marmorated stink bug is believed to have hitchhiked into the U.S. in a shipment of goods arriving from China, the insect’s native habitat. In China, stink bug populations are kept in check by a native predatory wasp; but in the U.S. these destructive insects have no natural predator. This summer, U.S. entomologists went to China to study the feasibility of introducing the predatory wasp that feeds on stink bugs into the U.S.