Forget Bed Bugs. What’s With the Stink Bugs in Hotel Rooms in West Virginia?

When John Denver unapologetically sang the praises — with a teardrop in his eye — of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River in the 1971 song Take Me Home Country Roads, nary a mention was given to an invasive pest known as the brown marmorated stink bug in the “almost heaven” of West Virginia.

Forget Bed Bugs. What’s With the Stink Bugs in Hotel Rooms in West Virginia?

The “Brown marmorated stink bug was accidentally introduced from east Asia (China, Japan, Korean) into eastern Pennsylvania and was first collected in Allentown in 1998, although it probably arrived several years earlier. It has since spread throughout most of eastern and western of North America and will likely be found continent wide within a few years”, according to this article written by Steve Jacobs and Michael Skvarla, who are respectively the senior extension associate and the insect identification laboratory director and extension educator of the College of Agricultural Sciences of The Pennsylvania State University. “Brown marmorated stink bugs can produce allergic reactions (rhinitis and/or conjunctivitis) in individuals who are sensitive to the bugs’ odor (the defensive chemicals can be an aeroallergen). Individuals sensitive to the odors of cockroaches and lady beetles are may be particularly affected by BMSB. Additionally, if the insects are crushed or smashed against exposed skin, they can produce dermatitis at the point of contact; there has not been much research in this regard, although it appears to affect only a small percentage of the population.”

Unlike bed bugs, brown marmorated stink bugs typically do not bite human beings — although “they do bite humans when they feel threatened and do this to prevent any sort of danger to their lives”, according to this article at Stink Bugs Guide. “As a result of their bite a person may feel painful, but harmless, swelling or rashes on the affected part of the body. Even though stink bugs’ bite is usually treated as non-poisonous bite for humans but it may prove poisonous for small kids and pets.”

When a brown marmorated stink bug is injured, molested or crushed — or even if it feels threatened — it defends itself by releasing a highly offensive and abhorrent odor. This means that merely handling the insect in attempting to move it can trigger the defense mechanism of releasing the foul odor, which has been likened to that of coriander.

Sleep Inn Beaver - Beckley

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Not long after checking into the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property in West Virginia, this little fellow was found on the wall above the lamp on the night stand, occasionally crawling a step or two every so often…

Hampton Inn Charleston-Downtown stink bug

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…and on the next day — again, not long after checking into the Hampton Inn Charleston-Downtown hotel property in West Virginia — this little fellow was found on the wall opposite where the beds were located.

A second brown marmorated stink bug was found dead inside a lamp shade.

Careful disposal of both of them required a paper cup and one of the many laminated advertising placards found in each room. The paper cup was placed over the brown marmorated stink bug on the wall. A laminated advertising placard was slid between the rim of the paper cup and the wall, trapping the brown marmorated stink bug inside of the paper cup. It was then taken to the toilet in the bathroom, in which it was dumped and then flushed to prevent the brown marmorated stink bug from emitting its aforementioned foul odor.

Summary

West Virginia is one of the few states in the United States which seems to be experiencing the worst of the effects of brown marmorated stink bugs, according to multiple sources.

Although brown marmorated stink bugs technically cause no harm to human beings, the possibility of accidentally rolling over one in the bed while sleeping is likely not going to be a pleasant experience; thus requiring the disposal of the insect.

Each brown marmorated stink bug incident was reported to the person behind the front desk upon checking out of each of the hotel properties. Whether or not anything was done about each incident is unknown…

…and in case you were wondering, I did not receive any compensation for either incident — nor was I seeking compensation.

In case you are more concerned about beg bugs while traveling instead of stink bugs, please refer to these helpful articles which were written by me here at The Gate:

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.


 

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2 thoughts on “Forget Bed Bugs. What’s With the Stink Bugs in Hotel Rooms in West Virginia?”

  1. Gene says:

    @ Brian — We get these things in our house in Atlanta every fall when we bring our tropical plants inside for the winter. They are pretty slow and easy to capture and flush down the toilet.

  2. Marcia Cochran says:

    We encountered stinkbugs recently at the Hampton Inn in Inwood, W V.

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