UPDATED 03/29/11 10:20 a.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — First it was the Asian long-horned beetle, then the emerald ash borer.

Now, as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports another pesky bug has made its way to the Chicago area – the bluntly-named stink bug.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Gannett News Service broke the news in the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday morning that brown marmorated stink bugs had been spotted in two western suburbs – Geneva last fall, and Western Springs in January.

The brown marmorated stink bug is readily identifiable by its back, which resembles a medieval shield.

The first brown marmorated stink bug in North America was spotted in Allentown, Pa., in 1998. Since then, they have spread all along the East Coast, as well as much of the South, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oregon and California, according to Penn State University.

The bug’s native range is in China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, where it is regarded as an agricultural pest. It attacks a variety of tree fruits and renders them unmarketable as fresh produce, according to Penn State. Last year, they caused severe damage to crops in apple and peach orchards in Pennsylvania.

“It is potentially a huge problem in the United States, and it’s rapidly spreading,” said Doug Inkley, a biologist with the National Wildlife Federation.

Inkley has been battling an infestation of the bugs in his Maryland home since the beginning of the year. He has counted over 21,000 and averages 500 a day.

“I did get 8,000 in one day when I went into the attic, but in my living space, I’ve had as many as 500,” he said. “A good day is if I have 250. Isn’t that ridiculous?”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

While the insects are not dangerous to humans, homeowners might be annoyed by their noisy buzzing, Penn State said.

“They don’t sting. They don’t bite. They’re not even breeding in your home,” Inkley said. “But they’re a total nuisance, because they keep coming out all of the time.”

But squashing stink bugs is a bad idea. The Web site StinkBugs411 warns that they will emit a repulsive smell if they are squashed or even threatened.

“It’s an offensive odor. It’s not unbearable, but it’s certainly not pleasant,” Inkley said. “Some say it smells a little like cilantro.” Others have compared the smell to rotting garbage.

But thanks to the stink bugs, Inkley says, the tomato plants in his yard are all ruined.

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