They're called stink bugs, and they've set up shop in Montreal
A new insect plague has arrived in Montreal, threatening plants and fruit trees in the city — and smelling bad while doing it.
It's called the brown marmorated stink bug — it's originally from Asia, it's about the size of a quarter, and it's kind of looks like an armor-plated bed bug.
Unlike bed bugs, happily, they don't feed off humans, but instead, they feed off plants, and have been known to destroy fruit and vegetable crops — and houseplants.
"It's just another insect that's getting established here, and it's a big problem, especially for agriculture," says Stephanie Boucher, the curator of McGill University's Lyman Entomological Museum and Research Laboratory. "It's really just in 2016 that the first bugs were seen in Montreal, but now it seems to be established here."
Many of the bugs made their way here, she says, in fruit and vegetable crates that come from abroad.
For the moment, the bugs have been spotted in green spaces in and around the Plateau Mont-Royal borough, but Boucher suggests they could spread to other parts of town by the fall. And more worrisome still — she says they could start taking shelter in people's homes once the weather starts to turn colder.
"One of the big problems for people is that they could hibernate in houses. So now in the fall, there's going to be a new insect that gets inside houses," she says. "It's spreading pretty fast. The female can lay hundreds of eggs."
That could pose an infestation problem, of course, if they're allowed to multiply unchecked. And if there are hundreds of them inside your home, they will feed off your houseplants.
And they will emit a foul-smelling odor if they're disturbed — or even vacuumed.
The bugs have taken their toll on crops across the east-central portion of the United States, from New York State to Virginia, in recent years, and scientists believe the effects of climate change could see more of them heading further north.