Tell these stinky pests to take a hike
Stink bugs are rarely a passive problem—rather than having the occasional bug crawling up your curtains, they seem to spawn from a neverending source. Their omnipresence grows even worse during the winter months when they seek out warm, cozy places for shelter (and they rarely camp alone). If these stinky, pesky bugs have chosen your home as their place to crash, there are much better options than squishing them and dealing with the putrid stench. Here’s how to kill stink bugs—and keep them from coming back.
What Are Stink Bugs?
Stink bugs are common household and garden insects that are shield-shaped and green, tan, or brown in color. They get their name from the putrid cilantro-like odor they secrete as a defense mechanism—and those who have squished one are all too familiar with its pungency. The insects are attracted to fruits and vegetables, often attacking crops such as corn, soybeans, peppers, and tomatoes. During the winter months, they find human homes to inhabit and can be extremely difficult to get rid of once they’ve found their way in.
What Kills Stink Bugs?
Bug traps, homemade solutions, vacuuming, and pesticides can kill stink bugs. But many stink bugs have developed a resistance to commercial pesticides, and their stench makes it extremely unpleasant to squash them. While there are a few natural methods to kill stink bugs, your best mode of defense is preventing them from entering your home in the first place.
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
Stink bugs are tricky invaders to kick out, but you still have a few defenses at your disposal. Here are the top methods to kill stink bugs and rid them from your home.
Use Homemade Stink Bug Traps
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends attracting stink bugs to traps. Fill metal pans with soapy water in a sunny spot in your house or under a light source. They will drown quickly.
Concoct a Mixture of Vinegar and Dish Soap
A homemade spray containing dish soap and white vinegar can kill stink bugs on the spot. Fill a spray bottle with 1 cup of hot water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1/4 cup of dish soap. Then spray the bugs directly when you see them.
Consider Organic Insecticides
If you’re having trouble controlling stink bugs, some natural insecticides can take them out. Keep in mind that pesticides can harm your garden, as they can kill off pollinators and predatory insects that kill stink bugs. They can also cause skin, eye, and respiratory problems—especially to kids and pets— so use them with caution. Here are the top natural insecticides that can kill stink bugs:
Vacuum Them Up
Stink bugs are no match for the mighty vacuum. With or without a bag, the vacuum will collect the pests. Once you’re done, empty the vacuum outside since they can crawl right back out. Plus, dead stink bugs will give off their signature smell.
How to Prevent Stink Bugs
Stink bugs can become a huge pain once they’ve moved into your space. Prevention is your best mode of defense. Here’s how to keep stink bugs out of your home.
Inspect Your Home
Stink bugs sneak into your home through cracks, holes, and crevices, so every prevention plan should start by addressing potential points of entry. Here’s what to do:
Walk around the home's perimeter, checking for gaps and cracks in the foundation or in door and window frames.
Check window screens for any rips or tears.
Examine any bug entry points like soffits, pipes, utility wire holes, dryer vents, chimneys, and siding.
Seal any gaps with caulk or mesh.
Clear Away Potential Hiding Spots
Stink bugs can hide in debris and dense vegetation, so you’ll want to keep it to a minimum around your home. Move any leaf piles away from the house and clear tall plants and grasses where stink bugs can gather. It’s also a good idea to remove logs and stick piles, as they may take cover in these as well.
Put Produce Away
Stink bugs are attracted to fruit and vegetables, so rather than keeping a bowl of fresh fruit on your counter, tuck it in the fridge or put it in an air-tight container.
Encourage Natural Predators
If stink bugs are helping themselves to your vegetable garden, you can combat them by inviting beneficial garden insects that prey on stink bugs, such as braconid wasps and assassin bugs. These hungry helpers have a fondness for these plants:
Along with that, birds have been known to chow down on the occasional stink bug. Consider attracting more birds to your garden by putting out seed, birdbaths, and birdhouses.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Taking preventative measures can help keep stink bugs at bay around your home. However, once an active infestation starts, it can be really difficult to tackle on your own. If you can’t get the bugs under control, you should call a local exterminator who can step in and help you find a plan that works.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ironically, stink bugs tend to hate plants that have a strong odor. Along with the plants that attract their predators listed above, here are a few pungent plants to add to your garden:
It is a myth that smashing a stink bug attracts more stink bugs. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, killing a stink bug will not attract more of them. They are able to secrete a pheromone that attracts other bugs, but they will only release their alarm pheromone when they’re squished—which won’t attract more bugs.
Stink bugs don't harm humans or their homes, but they can do a number on vegetable crops, especially in large numbers. According to the Journal of Integrated Pest Management, the brown marmorated stink bug, recognized as a globally invasive species, has cost millions in crop damage and is a nuisance to homeowners.