How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs – 15 Ways to Prevent Them
Fall has many fantastic smells, such as dry leaves, pumpkin, and cider. However, Fall also has a smell nobody likes: stink bugs.
Stink bugs are small, invasive, and foul-smelling insects that invade homes – and they’re most active during the Fall season.
If you’re looking for how to get rid of stink bugs, without overloading your house in noxious fumes, you’re in the right place. Here are 15 ways to prevent and eliminate these pungent pests:
What are Stink Bugs?
Most stink bugs in the US are Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs. They’re small, oval-shaped insects with two antennae and brown-gray coloring.
They get their name from the musty, slightly-sweaty smell they emit. They release the odor when threatened or upon death.
Despite the odor, stink bugs aren’t toxic or deadly to humans. (They don’t taste good, but that’s an issue for animals.) Also, stink bugs aren’t aggressive. Although they technically can bite, they do so rarely.
Mainly, stink bugs pose an agricultural problem. They’re voracious eaters. If they enter your home, it’s likely because they’ve found evidence of food.
Why Do Stink Bugs Enter Homes?
Fall is their busiest season. They undergo an annual migration after recently completing a feeding frenzy. During early September, stink bugs are looking for a place to hibernate – and your home presents a safe, cozy option.
In 2017, Good Housekeeping chronicled a massive stink bug invasion in Michigan. Hundreds of stink bugs battered dwellings for six weeks. As the temperature drops, stink bugs look to get away from the cold weather.
How Do I Get Rid of Stink Bugs?
Getting rid of stink bugs involves two processes. First, you want to remove (lethally or not) any stink bugs already in your house. Next, you want to add defenses to your home to prevent their return. Here are 15 ways to control and remove stink bugs:
1. Close Off Potential Entryways
Like most insect invaders, stink bugs favor large groups. When they enter a dwelling, they do so en masse. Preventing an infestation is far easier than stopping one.
Seal off any cracks, holes, and open spaces leading into your house. Use silicone or silicone-latex caulk to close gaps. Focus on the following areas:
- Underneath wood siding or fascia
- Around pipes entering your house
- Around chimneys
As a general rule, if you can see light through a space, bugs can enter.
2. Keep Your Yard Landscaped and Well-Maintained
Stink bugs live in wood piles, shrubs, and vegetation. They prefer damp, dark places with lots of hiding spots.
Mow and trim your yard regularly. Keep firewood at least 20 feet away from your house. Ideally, you want to elevate it at least five inches from the ground, too. The extra height helps prevent stink bug infestation.
Stink bugs are especially attracted to fruit trees. They use their proboscis to suck out the inside of the fruit.
3. Stop Leaks and Remove Water Buildup
Stink bugs like wet, damp conditions. Check all outdoor water sources, such as the garden hose attachment, for leaks.
Also, don’t let stagnant water buildup around your home. You might make alterations to your landscape to prevent any stagnant pools.
4. Ventilate and Dehumidify
Keep indoor areas dry and well-ventilated. Stink bugs are most likely to congregate in dark, out-of-the-way spots like basements, attics, garages, and crawl spaces.
Dehumidifiers are an effective option. Also, use ventilation systems to ensure the consistent flow of fresh air.
On the downside, well-ventilated areas require open ventilation shafts. You don’t want bugs crawling in. Use mesh coverings to create bug-proof barriers. Fine mesh screens block bugs but allow unimpeded airflow.
5. Replace Damaged Screens
During the cooling weather of Fall, many people turn off the A/C and leave the windows of the house open. While the open-air can feel great, make sure your screens aren’t an open invitation for stink bugs.
Replace any torn screens. Make sure all screens fit tightly. Also, check around the screen for torn weather-stripping or gaps.
6. Keep the Lights Off
Stink bugs like bright lights. Keep outdoor lighting low or off in the evening to avoid attracting the attention of these unwanted pests. Turn off all porch and pathway lights. Motion-activated security lights are usually fine because stink bugs aren’t large enough to activate them.
These light-loving insects can’t tell the difference between indoor and outdoor lights. If you leave shades and blinds open at night, stink bugs will flock to your windows. Ideally, your windows are tightly sealed to prevent stink bug entry, but you still don’t want to turn on the welcome sign.
7. Curtail Access to Outdoor Food Sources
According to gardening experts Gardennerdy, stink bugs mainly eat fruits and vegetables. Some of their favorites included:
- Leafy crops like lettuce and cabbage
- Fruits such as cherries, peaches, and berries
- Vegetables, especially tomatoes and corn
- Flowers such as sunflowers
The biggest source of food outside your home is probably your garbage cans. Keep the lids tightly sealed. Clean the outside of the cans to avoid spills.
8. Curtail Access to Indoor Food Sources
If the stink bugs are inside, keep your kitchen clean. Wipe up even the smallest crumbs. Don’t leave dirty plates or cookware out all night. Also, don’t forget about your appliances. Clean your microwave, toaster, and other countertop kitchenware.
9. Don’t Squish
Stink bugs have special glands in their thorax, which produces a sharp, acrid, and pungent odor. They emit this odor when they’re frightened or threatened. They also automatically produce the odor if they’re crushed.
No matter how frustrating the stink bug invasion may seem, resist the urge to step or swat on any stink bugs. The smell can quickly permeate even a large room. Even though the stink bug is dead, the stench will linger much longer.
Capture stink bugs alive. Scoop them up with a glass and a piece of paper. You can then either free them outside or flush them down the toilet. Putting them in the freezer will also kill them.
10. Make a Trap
The Today Show detailed a simple, effective booby trap. Cut the top off a plastic soda bottle. Invert the top and put it upside-down in the bottle. Keep it secure with tape. You can put a piece of fruit in the bottle for bait.
Stink bugs will enter the bottle without a problem, but once inside, the inverted top traps them. When you’ve collected a small group of bugs, place the bottle into the freezer to kill them quickly.
11. Vacuum Them Up
The hose attachment on your vacuum is an effective way for how to get rid of stink bugs. However, there’s a right and a wrong way.
Only use a vacuum with a bag. The stink bugs are likely going to panic when vacuumed. If they spray their stink inside a bagless canister, it’ll stick around for a long time.
A bag contains the smells. Make sure you remove the bag and take it outside immediately after vacuuming stink bugs.
You probably don’t want to break out the vacuum if you spot just one or two stink bugs. However, it effectively removes a lot of stink bugs from a small area.
12. Spray Them with Soapy Water
Mix soap and water in a spray bottle. Use about 1% to 2% dish soap. The non-toxic formula effectively kills stink bugs on contact. Plus, it’s safe for use around kids and pets.
Insecticides are another option. However, pest control professionals should apply any insecticides. Stink bugs are surprisingly, alarmingly hardy. Many pesticides have no effect. You don’t want to poison your environment while leaving the stink bugs alive.
Insecticides pose another risk, too. If you poison them, but they’re able to run off, they can die behind walls or in other hard-to-reach areas. Unfortunately, they emit their signature odor when they die. If you can’t clean up their dead bodies, they’ll stink up your house as a cruel parting gift.
13. Use Barrier Spray
Special sprays create an invisible barrier that repulses stink bugs. It’s placed around the perimeter of your house. However, it’s best applied by pest control professionals.
Instead of focusing on how to get rid of stink bugs, barrier sprays prevent them from entering in the first place.
14. Watch What You Bring into the House
Don’t put out the welcome mat! Stink bugs can sneak into your house with your unwitting assistance. Carefully scrutinize any outdoor items you bring inside. Potential stink bug transports include:
- Fruits and vegetables from the garden
- Boots and clothing
Also, avoid moving stink bugs from room to room. As discussed above, stink bugs love basements and attics. They hide in boxes of Christmas decorations, off-season clothing, and other occasionally-used items. Be careful you don’t accidentally carry stink bugs into your living room or other parts of the house.
15. Contact Pest Control Experts
Stink bugs are stubborn and hardy. Once they’ve established a foothold in a house, removing them isn’t always easy. Even if you only see a few, many more are likely hiding.
Professional pest extermination services are the best way for how to get rid of stink bugs. A pro pest expert can kill the invaders (without stinking up your home) and create custom barriers to prevent a return.
“How do I get rid of stink bugs?” It’s an important question. Even though they’re unlikely to hurt you, you still don’t want stink bugs in the house. The 15 tips above will help prevent and remove even a large infestation. Also, contact a professional exterminator to make the process even easier. Soon you’ll breathe a sigh of relief as the stink bugs say goodbye.
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