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How To Get Rid of Stink Bugs

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 04/19/2024

With some bugs, a quick stomp from a shoe can get rid of the problem. However, when it comes to stink bugs, this is exactly what you want to avoid. True to the name, these bugs give off a rancid odor when squished, and they can also spray this same odor when threatened.

Thus, getting rid of them requires a little finesse, and many all-purpose insecticides designed for indoor use are ineffective against them. Here, we’ll go over how to get rid of stink bugs and how to keep them out.

We’ll also recommend some top pest control companies that can help rid your home of stink bugs and other pests.

To learn more about stink bugs, watch this National Geographic video that describes how the bugs present a threat to agriculture and a nuisance to homeowners.

What Is a Stink Bug?

The term “stink bugs” refers not just to one species of insect, but a whole family called Pentatomidae. These shield-shaped insects live on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as areas of the Midwest.

Brown marmorated stink bugs have recently become particularly common in the mid-Atlantic states. Although some species destroy crops, most are simply a household nuisance, as they don’t bite, sting, or cause structural damage. The chemicals secreted by stink bugs can irritate the skin, eyes, or nose of people who are allergic to them.

Although stink bugs live, feed, and mate outdoors for most of the year, the cold of the winter often drives them indoors. They like to hole up in warm, enclosed spaces such as drapery folds and baseboards. You’ll usually see them as they emerge in the spring, trying to find their way back outside to food sources. To keep this from happening, it’s best to prevent them from coming inside to spend the winter.

How To Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your Home

If it’s already spring and you’ve got a stink bug infestation, you don’t have to wait until next winter to do something about it.

bug-slash How to Kill Stink Bugs

Unfortunately, traditional pesticides are not very effective when it comes to eliminating stink bugs once they get inside. Here are some better ways to kill off this pest.

Perhaps the easiest way of getting rid of an infestation is by using your vacuum cleaner, particularly if it has a handheld hose attachment. Simply suck the bugs up, remove the bag, seal it carefully, and dispose of it well away from your home.

A few words of caution about this method: because stink bugs may release noxious odors when disturbed, use a vacuum with a disposable bag. Otherwise, your bagless vacuum will reek of stink bugs. Though the vacuuming process may kill some stink bugs, others will survive, so seal and dispose of the bag quickly.

Though they are not drawn to chemical bait, stink bugs are attracted to UV light. You can make your own light trap by filling a large pan with soapy water and putting it underneath a lamp or night-light. The stink bugs will flock to the light and fall into the water, where the soap will negate the surface tension and cause them to drown.

You can, in fact, squish the occasional stink bug by hand, but do it carefully. Use toilet paper to catch the smelly liquid and flush the whole thing quickly afterward. Also, wash your hands to avoid getting the liquid in your nose or eyes. It’s not likely to make you sick, but it can be very irritating.

You can also take advantage of the fact that stink bugs like to crawl in high places and, when threatened, tend to drop straight down. Using the same principle as the light trap, you can carry around an open container of soapy water and use a pencil or popsicle stick to knock the bugs off of household surfaces and into the water. However, you need to do this quickly so they don’t have time to release their odor.

How to Keep Stink Bugs Out

Once you’ve knocked out the spring infestation, don’t let in a new crop of stink bugs next season.

Your first task should be sealing up any points of entry, paying special attention to chimneys, attics, crawlspaces, pipes, and the trim around doors and windows. Seal any cracks or crevices with caulk, patch any holes in window or door screens, and install screens in vents if you don’t already have them.

Stink bugs are strongly attracted to light, so minimize the number of outside lights you keep on, particularly in the fall when stink bugs will start to seek shelter indoors. If you need to have outdoor lights on, consider investing in a bug zapper and placing it nearby. This should kill stink bugs before they have a chance to spray.

You can also make a light and water trap on a porch or patio to kill some of the insects before they have a chance to get in.

Often, the use of essential oils as bug repellents has little scientific evidence to back it up. However, at least one study published in the Journal of Applied Entomology has found that clove oil, lemongrass oil, spearmint oil, and ylang-ylang oil are all effective at repelling brown marmorated stink bugs.

Always take care when using essential oils, because if they’re not handled properly, they can cause skin or respiratory irritation. Additionally, don’t rely on repellent alone—seal up potential stink bug entry points for best results.

When to Use Pesticides

If you seal up your home and yet stink bugs still get inside year after year, you should consider treating outside your home. You’ll usually need to use an insecticide that contains bifenthrin or cyfluthrin and apply it around the perimeter of your house in the fall before the weather begins to turn cold.

The easiest and most effective way to use these insecticides is to hire a pest control professional. Trained providers like Terminix and Orkin will know how and where to apply fast-acting insecticides to prevent a stink bug infestation. Get a free quote from Terminix by entering your ZIP code here or calling 866-569-4035, or contact Orkin by calling 877-868-1416 or filling out this simple form.

FAQ About Getting Rid of Stink Bugs

What is the fastest way to get rid of stink bugs?

To get rid of stink bugs quickly, use a bagged vacuum, employ stink bug traps, and then carefully kill any stragglers.

What smell keeps stink bugs away?

Clove oil, lemongrass oil, spearmint oil, and ylang-ylang oil are all strong-smelling essential oils that are effective at repelling brown marmorated stink bugs, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Entomology.

How long do stink bugs live?

A brown marmorated stink bug can live from six to eight months. 

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