A few months ago, when the weather started getting colder, stink bugs started appearing around my house. I would find them everywhere–crawling on my succulents, dropping from the lights, even sauntering along the dining room table. The stink bug is a common nuisance pest for homeowners every fall and spring.
However, because I was able to take some preventative measures and get stink bugs out of my house last fall, I don’t have as much of a problem this spring. The stink bug is a difficult pest to get rid of, but you don’t need to suffer through their arrival this spring!
I’ve put together a guide to help you control stink bug presence in your home. Included in this guide are answers to some of the most common stink bug questions. I’ve also included various methods of stink bug control. Whether you want to get them out of your house this spring or prevent them from getting into your home come fall, I’ve gathered all the methods you can try.
Your Stink Bug Questions: Answered
Stink bugs eat plants from gardens, crops, and orchards.
What Are Stink Bugs?
The most common type of stink bug is the brown marmorated stink bug. As the name suggests, it’s often brown in color. The stink bug can also range in color from yellow or tan to grey. They have a body with five sides which is often said to be shaped like a shield. A stink bug usually grows to be around 15mm long.
These insects typically prefer to be outside. They eat plants and crops. Because of this, they’re often damaging to farms and orchards. They may also cause problems for homeowners by eating plants in your yard and garden. Though native to Asia, brown marmorated stink bugs can now be found across North America and in many European countries.
Stink bugs invade houses during the fall and spring.
Why Do Stink Bugs Come Inside?
Stink bugs prefer the outdoors where they have more access to food and hiding places. However, they’re known to come inside in huge numbers every fall and spring. Why?
The stink bug overwinters to survive the cold weather. During the fall, they look for places to hide as their body goes into an inactive, diapause state. Hundreds of stink bugs can find hiding places in cracks and holes inside your walls.
While trying to get inside the walls to overwinter, many stink bugs will find their way all the way inside. You’ll find them near doors and windows, but you could also find them in any room in your house. They may drop from the ceiling, hang around lights, or be crawling over your houseplants.
Eventually they’ll settle into the nooks and crannies of your house and get ready to wait out the winter. During this time they won’t eat or reproduce. When the weather starts to warm up again in the spring, they’ll come back out in order to resume their normal activities.
Although the stink bug tries to get outside in the spring, it often ends up inside your house instead. They are curious insects and have no problem exploring your house on their way outdoors.
Plus, since there may be warm days before the arrival of spring, the stink bug may emerge from its hiding place too early. In this case, they may hang around inside for longer in order to benefit from the warmth of your climate control.
The stink bug is not considered dangerous to humans.
Are Stink Bugs Dangerous?
They are considered a non-dangerous nuisance pest. They don’t bite humans, they don’t damage property, and they aren’t linked to bacteria or disease.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t problematic. The stink bug often appears in large numbers, which can make daily living difficult. You don’t want to be finding these pests on all your furniture or wiping them off the kitchen counters.
Another reason to keep the stink bug out of your house is because, well, they stink. When you squish one of these insects to kill it, it emits a foul odor that lingers long after the bug is dead. This unpleasant smell has been compared to rotting fruit, burning rubber, or skunks.
Instead of crushing them, make sure to follow this guide in order to kill them without releasing their bad stench.
How Do You Get Rid of Stink Bugs?
Now that you know some basic information about stink bug behaviour and the problems they cause, the next step is learning how to get rid of them. We’ll start by discussing ways you can get rid of stink bugs that are already inside your house without releasing their awful smell.
As these insects begin to emerge with the warm weather, you want easy ways to get rid of them without crushing them. Here are some of the best methods for eliminating stink bugs.
You can vacuum them to avoid the smell.
One of the most well-known solutions for getting rid of stink bugs is to use your vacuum cleaner.
This solution is simple. Using the arm attachment of your vacuum cleaner, just vacuum up any bugs around your house.
This won’t kill them, so you’ll want to immediately empty the vacuum bag into the trash or outside. You can’t leave them in the bag because they can find ways to escape.
One drawback of this method is that it may make your vacuum machine smell bad. They might release their odor inside the bag, and it can be difficult to ever clear the smell.
Sweeping stink bugs allows you to dispose of them outside without crushing them.
Another way to get rid of stink bugs is to sweep them into a dustpan and dump them outside.
They aren’t very fast or agile. Though these insects can fly, they are often too stunned to be swept up to actually get away.
As long as you move quickly, you should be able to get them outside without killing them and releasing the bad smell.
You can then decide whether you want to kill them outside or release them. Remember, once they’re outside they won’t try to come back inside, since their end goal was to find their way back to the outdoors anyway.
If you’re not afraid of bugs, you can also get these them out by just catching them with your hands or guiding them onto a piece of paper which you can then carry outside to discard.
Flushing stink bugs also lets you kill them without suffering from their stench.
Flush Them Down the Toilet
After catching a stink bug with a broom and dustpan, piece of paper, or your hands, you can also get rid of it by flushing it down the toilet.
They can’t swim, so drowning is an effective way to dispose of them without activating their foul odor.
By flushing them down the toilet, you won’t have to deal with the bodies or the smell.
Dish soap and water can easily trap stink bugs overnight.
Soap and Water
Another way to drown them is with a mixture of soap and water.
This method is great because it doesn’t require much work on your part. Instead of chasing them down with a vacuum or broom, you can let them come to their own ends.
All you need to do is mix dish soap and water in a large container. Place the container on the floor in an area where there are several of these pests or under a night light.
As I mentioned earlier, they aren’t particularly quick or agile. Many of them will fall into the water mixture. The soap will help trap them in the water until they drown.
You can then dispose of this container and the pests inside by rinsing it down the drain.
One of the best places to put the soap and water mixture is under a nightlight. They will be attracted to the light, but many will slide off the nightlight and into the water.
Stink bugs are attracted to sunflowers.
Use a Trap Plant
Although stink bugs don’t normally eat while overwintering, they may want food when they come out again in the spring. You can set a trap for them by attracting them to a specific plant.
They love okra, mustard, sunflowers, and amaranth. You can buy a pot of one of these plants and put it in a room where you have the most stink bugs.
Once you notice several of these on the plant, you can move it outdoors, throw it in the trash, or leave it in direct sunlight which will kill the pests on it.
You can also plant these plants near your garden in order to attract stink bugs to them instead of to the rest of your garden during the summer months.
Another way to trap stink bugs is by using a sticky trap. These traps work with several kinds of pest, including stink bugs.
Just place the sticky paper in an area where you’ve seen the most of these. Overnight, the bugs will walk or fall onto the tape and end up trapped.
You can then take the entire trap and dispose of it in order to rid yourself of those bugs. One thing to keep in mind is that you will want to discard the sticky trap often, because the bugs will begin to smell if left out for long.
Wet paper towels will attract stink bugs and can be easily discarded.
Wet Paper Towel
You can also lower the number of stink bugs in your house by placing a wet paper towel outside in front of your doors or windows.
They will be attracted to the damp paper towel and will gather on and around it instead of coming into your house.
Place the paper towel outside in the evening. In the morning, you can go outside and slide the paper towel, and all the bugs on it, directly into a garbage bag. Take this immediately to the dumpster to avoid the bugs getting out or beginning to smell.
You can also slide the wet paper towel into a container full of soapy water. This way the bugs will drown, and you won’t need to worry about their smell.
Can You Prevent Stink Bugs?
You should now be prepared to take care of stink bugs that are appearing in your house this spring, but is there a way to stop these insects before they get inside in the first place? Because stink bugs are looking to overwinter inside your walls, prevention needs to start in the fall.
Follow this guide to keep stink bugs away from your house in the fall. It’s almost impossible to completely stop stink bugs, but with these methods you can drastically reduce the amount that makes it inside. Let’s dig into some prevention methods.
Even small holes and cracks can allow stink bugs to get inside.
Seal Off Entry Points
The first step in preventing stink bugs is to make sure there are no open invitations for them. Check the exterior of your home for holes, cracks, and spaces that may look like the perfect winter hideout for stink bugs.
You can use caulking to fill any cracks you find. To reduce stink bug access, you’ll also need to repair damaged wood and you may want to paint any unfinished wood around the exterior of your home.
Stink bugs can also enter through windows. You should have screens over every window in your house, and before fall hits you should inspect each screen to check for tears and holes.
If any of the screens are damaged, you should replace them before the weather gets cold so prevent a stink bug problem.
You can also check screens over vents and you may want to consider installing a screen around your chimney if applicable.
Install Door Sweeps
If you don’t have door sweeps on each exterior door of your house, stink bugs will find their way inside.
You can choose between rubber door sweeps and brush door sweeps. Either should work well in keeping stink bugs and other pests outside.
Door sweeps are important because they secure the gap between the door and the ground, which is more than enough space for brown marmorated stink bugs to get inside.
White lights attract more bugs.
Turn Off Lights
Besides easy access, one of the things that attracts stink bugs is light.
You probably know that many species of insects are attracted to lights. White lights especially can bring moths, flies, mosquitoes, stink bugs, and more to your front porch. This puts them closer to the front door and more likely to get inside.
To prevent this, start by switching to yellow light, which resembles sunlight and therefore is less attractive to most pests.
In order to keep away even more bugs, take care to turn your lights off in the evening and at night. Leave the lights on only when necessary and consider using a timer or motion activated light to make sure you don’t forget to turn them off.
Stink bugs, like many other insects, love moisture. This means that to prevent an infestation, you need to reduce the moisture in your home.
Rooms like the basement, attic, and garage are susceptible to high humidity. Make sure these rooms are well ventilated and have steady airflow to keep from becoming too humid.
You can also use a dehumidifier in these rooms and throughout the house to keep moisture out of the air and therefore keep stink bugs away.
In order to reduce the moisture in your home, you should also check for water leaks or water damage, which will continue to attract stink bugs. If you see large groups of stink bugs, there’s a good chance they are congregated in a damp area.
Take some extra care to reduce the moisture in that room and check for damaged wood or other attracting factors.
There are several insect repellent sprays you can purchase in stores. While these repellents won’t kill stink bugs, they may help dissuade them from coming into your house.
Using a spray repellent is simple. Just spray around doorways, windows, and any other areas you think might be letting stink bugs inside.
Though stink bugs aren’t very affected by the spray, they will be repelled by the smell and may seek shelter elsewhere, leaving you bug free.
When it comes to repelling stink bugs, another method uses their own smell against them.
When you see the first stink bug in the fall, carry it outside and squish it near the door. Though you’ll have to put up with the odor, it may also serve as a warning to other stink bugs.
If you think stink bugs are getting in from different points, you can crush a stink bug or two in front of each entry point. Many stink bugs will smell the warning and think twice before trying to get inside your home.
Stink bugs don’t like the scent of mint, garlic, or dryer sheets.
Mint may be another smell that repels stink bugs.
In order to use mint to scare off stink bugs, mix ten drops of mint essential oil into 2 cups of water. Put this mixture in a spray bottle. In the same way as you might use store-bought insect repellent, spray the mint oil around any suspected entry points.
You can also spray mint oil around your garden or on the soil around your house to keep stink bugs away throughout the year.
Garlic works similarly to mint oil. Stink bugs don’t like the smell of garlic and will avoid it as much as possible.
To use garlic as a stink bug repellent, just mix garlic into water and add to a spray bottle. You can drop a couple whole cloves of garlic into the water, add some minced garlic, or even just sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of garlic powder.
Spray the garlic water around entry points, around the exterior of your home, and around your garden.
Since garlic also has a strong smell, you may not want to drench your front door in garlic water. Instead, this method might be better for keeping stink bugs away from your garden in the summer.
Use Dryer Sheets
Another scent that stink bugs dislike comes from dryer sheets.
This method works great if stink bugs have been coming in through your windows. You can rub a dryer sheet over the window screen. The scent will linger long after you’ve left, and will continue to repel stink bugs.
You can also rub dryer sheets around your doors, but it’s most effective on mesh screens and works well in combination with another method such as mint oil.
Diatomaceous earth dries out the exoskeleton of stink bugs.
Diatomaceous earth may help repel and kill stink bugs that are trying to get inside your house.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural sand made of fossilized algae. It has several uses, including working as an insecticide against many different insects.
It works by removing the coating of insects’ exoskeletons. Once insects lose that protective coating, they become dehydrated and their exoskeleton dries out.
To use diatomaceous earth, sprinkle some on the soil around your house, concentrating on areas near possible entry points.
When using this method, make sure to use food grade diatomaceous earth, not pool grade or filter grade.
Work with a Professional Pest Control Company
A final tip for preventing or eliminating stink bugs is to partner with a professional pest control company.
If you’ve tried the above methods and just can’t seem to get rid of stink bugs, it might be worth seeking help. Professional pest control technicians can help you inspect your home to determine whether there are factors attracting stink bugs.
It’s possible that there is an entry point you missed, an area of your home with high humidity, or another reason stink bugs keep coming inside.
Though pest control companies don’t have a treatment specific to stink bugs, they can help you spray problem areas and make environmental changes that might prevent stink bugs.
Though they aren’t dangerous, it’s still a good idea to keep stink bugs out. Hope these tips help!
Stink bugs may not be dangerous, but they can definitely be a frustrating pest to deal with. With these methods, you should be able to find a strategy that works for you. Prevent stink bugs in the fall, get them out of your house in the spring. This is your home; don’t let stink bugs take over!
Cailey Johanna Thiessen lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Though born in Colorado, she spent most of her formative years in Morelos and Oaxaca, Mexico. She attended college in Vermont, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing and a minor in Foreign Languages from Champlain College. She writes about pest control, travel, gardening, and more. Though currently living in an apartment, she loves caring for her large selection of houseplants and is looking forward to owning her own garden. She’s an avid cook and interested in finding easy and enjoyable ways to be healthier and happier. She’s passionate about writing and creating and seeing finished projects come to life.