How to Get Rid of the Stink Bugs in Your Home

Turn back to the clock: September 20, 2008

The U.S. has tens of species of stink bugs – small flying insects that eat fruits and vegetables and release a pungent odor if they sense danger. So why is the brown marmorated stink bug making headlines? Because this particular bug has no known predators in the U.S. to keep its population in check. Instead, the stinky pest is growing rapidly, causing millions of dollars in crop damage and pervading homes with its pungent stench.

Scientifically known as the halyomorpha halys, the bug is a native of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, but was first spotted in the United States in 1998. Recently it has spread across the country from Baltimore to Portland, sucking the juice out of fruits and leaving them misshapen. But even if you’re not a farmer, the bug’s unpleasant aroma is something you want to stay away from. Luckily, there are ways to prevent stink bugs from entering your home and remedies to get rid of them if they’ve already invaded.

How to Prevent a Stink Bug Infestation

Smaller than an inch long, the dime-sized pest can enter your home through minuscule openings. The best way to prevent this is to seal up all cracks and make sure you have working screens. Stink bugs tend to seep through cracks in the roof and settle in attics. If you suspect this, contact a professional roofer to examine your roof.

Additionally, stink bugs are attracted to light and heat. Turning off your outdoor lights and pulling your shades in the evening may prevent the bugs from trying to get into your home.

Another suggestion is to remove weeds and overgrowth from around your house as they are prime shelter for the bugs.

Some people claim that planting catnip in your garden will keep stink bugs away.

Another suggestion given is to place garlic or mint leaves around your home to ward off the bugs, or mix garlic with water and spray your plants. 

How to Remove Stink Bugs

The only known predator of the stink bug is a small wasp from China. While experts are doing research into the possibility of introducing the wasp in the U.S., currently the only real solution to a major infestation is to hire an expert stink bug exterminator.

However, for a smaller scale invasion, you can take matters into your own hands. -- preferably not literally. Though the insect is slow and easy to catch, handling it can cause the odor to be released. One way to remove the stink bugs if you’d rather not get too close is to vacuum them up. This avoids direct contact and should prevent release of the scent. However, the vacuum cleaner itself may retain a bit of smelly residue so it’s best to have a designated vacuum just for stink bugs. Another option is to sweep the bug into a jar with soapy water; the soap will kill it by dissolving its exoskeleton.

Updated February 26, 2018.

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