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A Citywide Outbreak Of Odorous Stink Beetles Perplex And Disgust Residents

Beetles may be the most species-rich group of insects on the planet, and many beetle species have been categorized as pests. However, most beetle pests infest and damage trees and plants, as many gardeners have come to learn. Very few beetle pests invade homes, and beetle epidemics that see thousands of specimens invading homes and business in large cities are unheard of, well almost unheard of, anyway. Last April, massive amounts of beetles laid siege to residential and urban areas of Bullhead City. The worst aspect of this invasion was the foul-smelling defensive fluids that the beetles secrete when they become threatened or when they are squished.

Last spring, residents of Bullhead City could not help but notice the abundance of beetle corpses and live beetles littering parking lots, residential lawns, parks and busy streets. Many of the beetles found their way indoors, and the ones that didn’t rapidly succumbed to dehydration. According to one pest control expert, all the beetles that had been found in the city resulted from unusually high moisture levels that persisted since the beginning of the year in the northwest region of Arizona. The frequent bouts of rain during the winter and the consequent overgrowth of vegetation during the spring caused the beetles to invade the city en masse.

Employees at a local Ace Hardware store removed both dead and live beetles from the area surrounding the store for weeks. Thousands of beetles could be seen outside Kohl’s and Target where corpses became so abundant that the parking lot became slippery in some places. Many dogs and cats in the city quickly learned that the beetles make for a lousy meal, as several pet owners claimed that their dog or cat quickly spat a beetle out quickly after collecting it from the ground. The reason the pets did this is due to this particular beetle species’ defensive secretions. The beetles in question are known as “desert stink beetles” in Arizona, as the beetles are well known to gather around outside lights during the spring, summer and fall. The defensive fluid secreted by these beetles causes intolerable irritation, providing these beetles with an ideal way to avoid being eaten alive.

Have you ever caught a whiff of smelly odors secreted by insects?

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