A stink bug triggered a false code red air quality alert in Charlotte, North Carolina yesterday after it landed on a sensor that monitors the city's air quality.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources sent out a Tweet this morning with a photo of a stink bug sitting on the sensor, complete with a perfect caption:

10/8 Code Red for particle pollution in Charlotte caused by 1 large particle: a stinkbug on the air monitor.

To be clear, the stink bug stank didn't cause the code red reading (though they can funk-up the air quality in your house). Air monitors measure the amount of fine particles (such as vehicle exhaust and smoke from fires) and coarse particles (dust) floating around in the air. High levels of particulates in the air can cause health problems when inhaled, especially in people with asthma and others who are considered at-risk.

As the sensor measures particulates that are less than ten micrometers in diameter, the stink bug (length = 12,700 micrometers) was more than enough to trigger a false alarm for particle pollution.

The air quality index (AQI) runs on a six-category scale ranging from "Good" to "Hazardous." Today's AQI in and around Charlotte is "Good."

[Photo: NCDENR | h/t Brad Panovich]

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