Green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris), is a native species that feeds on a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. Unfortunately, they like to spend the winter indoors. Dianne Crary Photo

Stink bugs are making their annual appearance on Fishers Island. They like to overwinter in houses as the weather cools and have an uncanny ability to slip into homes through torn screens and door cracks thanks to their flat body shape.

They are a threat to agriculture, not to humans. But they are a nuisance. Known to sometimes invade homes in massive numbers, they emit a stink (likened to rotting meat) when threatened or squashed. Stink bugs, however, do not sting, spread disease or damage structures.

The best defense against stink bugs is weather stripping, caulking and tape, and making your home a fortress. Seal up gaps and crevices around foundations and any area where doors, windows, chimneys and utility pipes are cut into the exterior. Any opening large enough for a stink bug to crawl through should be sealed.

The best thing to do if you find them inside is gently sweep them into a bucket, then fill it with a couple of inches of soapy water. You could vacuum them, but only as a last resort, because it will trigger the stink bug’s noxious odor and make your vacuum cleaner smell nasty.

The pests gravitate towards light and often gather on sunny exterior walls, particularly near gardens and ornamental plants. They frequently die in light fixtures, filling rooms with a bad smell. They also fly inside, and can crawl on walls and ceilings in large numbers.

Stink bugs are found in New York and 45 other states.