Part of being a pet owner is wondering what item your furry little pal has taken into his mouth. In this scenario, that item is a stink bug.
Can a stink bug poison your cat?
Despite their bad odor, stink bugs are not poisonous to cats and other pets you may have in your household. However, the ingestion of these stinkers can lead to stomach problems.
However, if your cat has eaten this stinky insect, it is possible that his tongue, gums, and lips become irritated due to the stink bug’s secretions. In some pets, the ingestion of a stink bug can also cause eye irritation, drooling, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Luckily, most of these symptoms vanish after a couple of days.
However, when a feline ingests a substantial amount of insects, including stink bugs, there is a risk that he will develop a hard mass known as bezoar inside his stomach. When the mass gains a substantial size, your cat may not be able to pass the bezoar out of his body. The only option left would be for him to go under the knife.
Why does your cat eat bugs?
Your cat may not look the part, not with his cute face and laid back demeanor, but he is a predator. He might not get too much practice because you take good care of him. But he will readily take on the task of taking down prey when the opportunity presents itself.
In this case, the prey is the stink bug.
Cats eat stink bugs because they think of these and other critters as their prey. Cats are predators and they will use their innate skills when the opportunity comes.
Cats do not necessarily eat insects and other small creatures. For them, these small animals are targets that they need to chase, hunt down, and occasionally, eat.
Fortunately, most critters found in a typical residence are harmless. Most bugs are non-toxic and it is more likely that your feline will be stung.
However, watch out against venomous spiders that your cat might unwittingly attack.
What are stink bugs?
The brown marmorated stink bug is an insect that originates from Asia and is considered an invasive pest in the United States, South America, and Europe.
The stink bug can grow close to half an inch in length and has a shield-like body. It is believed that the insect was introduced in America in 1998 while hitching a ride on packing crates.
In 2011, estimates show that these critters have found their way into 34 American states and have spread as far as Canada.
A separate batch of these insects was accidentally introduced into Europe in 1998 when stink bugs were found in roof tiles ordered from China arrived in Switzerland.
Brown marmorated stink bugs are considered pests for a variety of reasons. For one they do not choose which plants to infest. In the United States, these insects have been known to infest a wide variety of crops, from fruit trees to vegetables. These voracious eaters will even feast on plants considered to be weeds.
Stink bugs destroy crops by piercing plant tissue and sucking plant fluids. Deprived of these vital fluids, the plant can be damaged in a variety of ways, from cosmetic damage to leaf destruction to making the plant vulnerable to diseases.
Worse, these critters do not have natural predators in the countries they have invaded.
The insect gained its moniker from the pungent odor it emits when it senses an attack from predators. The stench is often compared to the scent of cilantro.
Preventing stink bugs from entering your home
Stink bugs are drawn to homes to seek shelter from winter. This usually occurs around fall when the temperature begins to drop.
Unlike other pests that can hurt people and pets or cause damage to a structure, stink bugs are relatively harmless. However, stink bugs can invade a home in alarmingly large quantities and can be quite difficult and annoying to get rid of.
If you want to keep these insects away from your home and prevent another encounter between your feline and stink bugs, you should follow these tips closely.
1. Close all possible entry points
It takes a small amount of space for stink bugs to gain entry into your home. Before the arrival of autumn, inspect your home for possible entry points like cracks in the wall and holes in the screen door.
2. Limit your use of outdoor lights
Stink bugs are often drawn by light. And if you have outdoor lights installed on your property, use these as little as possible. Consider installing blinds or heavy curtains on your windows to prevent indoor light from leaking outdoors.
3. Remove possible water sources
From leaking pipes to water collected in unused pots – all of these can attract pests to venture into your property. Eliminate these when possible.
4. Clean your home thoroughly
Although stink bugs usually become inactive during the winter as they wait for the weather to become more pleasant, it is not unusual to see some of these insects venturing into kitchens in search of food.
Do not provide these pests with free meals. Make sure that you clean your home, especially the kitchen, to remove possible food sources like crumbs and leftover food.
5. Invest in a dehumidifier
Basements, garages, attics, and similar spaces are favorite hiding spots of stink bugs. You can discourage these pests from moving into these areas by drastically reducing humidity in the form of a dehumidifier.
6. Inspect packages
During the holidays, you might receive several boxes of gifts and online purchases. Stink bugs are known to hitch a ride on these. Upon receipt of these packages, carefully inspect the boxes and look for stink bugs that may have come into your home uninvited.
7. Vacuum the stink bugs
Instead of squishing these bugs, use a vacuum cleaner instead. This will make catching these pests easier for you and eliminate the possibility of stinking up your home.
Stink bugs are mostly harmless to cats
Although it is alarming to see your cat scarfing down a non-food item, you do not need to worry much if your feline catches and attempts to eat a stink bug that has visited your home. The insect, for the most part, is harmless to cats.
Image: istockphoto.com / naotoshinkai