Stink bug’ that lets off horrid stench could invade UK homes, experts warn

The stink bug, which lets off a horrible stench when disturbed and can cause an allergic reaction, is on its way to spreading across the UK

Experts have warned brits that a ‘stink bug’ that lets off a sickening smell could be invading homes and ruining fruit crops within ten years.

The smelly bug is native to East Asia, but one has been recently found in the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden in Surrey.

The bug, which is brown in colour and has a speckled pattern on its back, was first discovered in the UK last August at a nature reserve in Essex.

It has also been spotted in London, Suffolk and Hampshire, which has led scientists to believe it is spreading.

The bug, also dubbed the ‘fart bug’, could become a nuisance for brits as it seeks shelter indoors during the colder months, and if threatened, will release and horrendous odour.

Some people may even have an allergic reaction to the bug, which has already become a problem across the water in the US.

While the insects are not poisonous and do not transmit disease, their bites are notoriously annoying and they cannot be gotten rid of without professionals since they fly away quickly.

The pesky bug can lay up to 30 light green eggs on leaves three-days after mating and is small enough to crawl through cracks in windows.

40 species of stink bugs, also known as shield bugs, already live in the UK, but most are not considered pests as they pose no threat to plant health.

The brown marmorated stink bugs are different from native UK shield bugs as they have rectangular-shaped head and are approximately 17mm long.

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The stink bug, scientifically known as Halyomorpha halys, has caused chaos for farmers and winemakers as it also goes after fruit.

Among the 100 plant species it is known to attack, it has a particular appetite for berries, apples, grapes and peaches.

The stink bug like to suck the juice out of plans, causing leaves and fruit to deform and leaving rotting patches on their exterior.

Experts have said it is inevitable that the bugs will become common place in the UK, and researches are concerned that the bugs will be drawn to the warm polythene tunnels used by berry growers in places like Tayside.

Dr Glen Powell, head of plant health at the Royal Horticultural Society, said searches are underway for signs of a colony after the capture of the lone adult bug.

He said: “The RHS urges good vigilance and biosecurity to help minimise the risk from invasive pests.

“But the brown marmorated stink bug is a particular challenge because it is such a good hitchhiker, wriggling deep into shipping containers, wooden pallets, packaging, pot plants and even passenger luggage.

“It is a very robust insect and could be like the Harlequin ladybird, which, after initial outbreaks in hot spots, spread right across the UK.

“The installation of pheromone traps at our gardens enables us to study invasive species from their arrival in the UK through to potential colonisation.

“While there is currently no evidence of breeding, we would expect the stink bug to grow in prevalence and it may become problematic in gardens during summer and homes in the winter months within five to ten years.

“This isn’t a sudden invasion but potentially a gradual population build-up and spread, exacerbated by our warming world.”

Dr Michelle Fountain, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany’s head of pest and pathogen ecology, warns of the impact this can have of crops.

She said: “The brown marmorated stink bug represents a significant threat to food production systems in the UK, so it is crucial that we continue to monitor any establishment and spread of the pest.

“The long-term development of management and environmentally-sensitive control strategies will be needed so that the research community can keep industry and gardeners one step ahead of this pest species.”

But, fear not – wasps are known to be the most affective predator of stink bugs as they lay eggs in their nests, stopping them from hatching.

This means Brits may actually have a reason to be grateful for the universally detested wasp.