AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- This winter's weather has reportedly done a number on the invasive stink bug population.

Researchers at Virginia Tech University said that January's bitter cold temperatures may have killed 95 percent of stink bugs in the northeast that had not found shelter to stay warm this winter.

In New England, they're seemingly everywhere: the brown, marmorated stink bug.

"They're usually shield shaped in appearance. They have unique mouth parts that are piercing sucking, kind of like a straw," said Natasha Wright, board certified entomologist with Braman Termite and Pest Elimination.

Wright told Western Mass News that bother them or kill them and they live up to their stinky name and they love to 'winter' in people's homes.

"When it comes to stink bugs and lady bugs, they just find a place to stay. Some of them have anti-freeze proteins in their blood that prevents them from freezing over and they'll hibernate like a bear would," Wright added.

However, Virginia Tech researchers said that bitter cold snaps this winter, mixed in with unusual warm-ups, is killing off stink bugs.

Wright said that in western Massachusetts, the population may be down somewhat and that the problems may have begun with last summer's lack of consistently hot days.

"Because insects are reliant on temperature to develop, hot summers allow them to get to very great numbers, so this year, we didn't get a lot of calls this year about structurally invading pests like lady bugs and stink bug," Wright noted.

Wright said fast forward to this winter's up and down temperatures.

"We've had a very mild winter, so when the temperatures spike - warm, cold, warm, cold - they come out of hibernation and it becomes harder for them to survive the more they come out of hibernation," Wright explained.

Wright said nonetheless, for now, the invasive brown marmorated stink bugs in New England are here to stay.

Best advice for getting rid of them? Wright said get rid of the way they come inside: through your homes exclusions - any openings, holes, in the attic or the eves, and around windows and doors.

Entomologists said that there are thousands of species of stink bugs. Most are harmless to people, but others are serious pests and can devastate things like orchards and vegetable gardens.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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