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Could winter's frigid temps have killed the stinkbugs?

Saturday - 2/22/2014, 1:41am  ET

stink bug (AP/Matt Rourke)
In an experiment, stinkbugs left outside were killed off at a rate of 95 percent. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Audio: Stinkbugs experienced a 95 percent kill-rate

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WASHINGTON -- The region might, just might, have fewer stinkbugs to deal with in the coming spring and summer.

And this winter's extra-frigid temperatures are to thank.

Virginia Tech entomology professor Thomas Kuhar gathered stink bugs in the fall and placed them inside insulated buckets under an outdoor shelter.

When they were retrieved recently, Kuhar found that 95 percent were killed.

Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park says this could be good news for the region.

"One of the things we believe is that several of the southern species of pests that have penetrated our region over these very mild winters have gotten beaten back."

In similar experiments where stink bugs were kept in benign temperatures, Raupp says the kill rates were between 30 and 50 percent.

"But with Tom Kuhar's stink bugs, which he kept outside, and exposed them to the polar vortex, was about 95 percent. So we've got our fingers crossed."

Raupp says the hope is there will be substantial mortality from stinkbugs living under trees and in unheated tool sheds all winter.

"This would be a great thing if we had fewer of those stinkers come spring."

As far as other insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, Raupp said he couldn't say anything definite.

"These guys have been at it for simply tens of millions of years and they've seen the warm and the cold come and go. So I don't think we can make any promises on that account just now."

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