Recently, several articles and news outlets have been perpetuating the claim that the extreme cold weather due to the polar vortex wiped out 95% of the Brown Marmorated Stinkbugs. I just wanted to post a quick response regarding those claims. It is true that extreme cold weather can kill stinkbugs, especially if those temperatures persist over time. However, timing is everything!
When the temperatures start dropping, adults begin to migrate from open fields and orchards to structures/homes and forests to seek respite from the cold. In Michigan, this starts to happen in September until about November. This means living rent free in your couches, walls, barns, garages, sheds etc... They can also crawl into crevices of trees, pavement cracks as well. While the polar vortex was happening, they were likely, snug as a bug in a rug.
These news sources have also cited a 2014 paper to back up these claims, but the problem with this is that lab conditions are not necessarily transferable to real life scenarios. Mental Floss directly contacted the researcher who echoed these sentiments regarding his work being portrayed as such.
If the cold snap happened in September or October, perhaps we could have a more robust discussion on impacts to the population, as this would be when they are still out and about. At this time, we have no reason to believe that 95% of the stinkbugs have been killed. For more information on how invasive species do cope with cold weather, please see the below post. To keep out stinkbugs, make sure you have properly fitted window screens, doors without gaps and screens on any vents that connect outside!
For more information:
Wilson et al. 2017. Managing Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Michigan Orchards. Michigan State University Extension. Website:
Petsko, E. 2019. Sorry, But Last Month's Polar Vortex Didn't Wipe Out 95 Percent of Stink Bugs. Mental Floss. Website:
Shikha Singh is the coordinator for the JLW CISMA. She has a BSc. in Biology from University of Western Ontario, and her master's and PhD at Michigan State University from the Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife. Her areas of expertise include water quality, water policy, invasive species, education/outreach and public speaking.