If you have a stink bug infestation, you know that they can be a pain to remove. Thankfully, you don't have to deal with these pesky pests for too long. Discover how to get rid of stink bugs in this article. We even consulted the pros for these top tips.
When it comes to home pests, most people are wary of the usual suspects. Rats, cockroaches, and ants are all par for the course. However, one of the worst pests to have inside is the aptly named stink bug.
Unlike other critters, these insects are hard to remove the old fashioned way, assuming that you don’t want your home to reek. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer for long. In this article, we’ll go over the best methods for getting rid of stink bugs.
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A Note About Our Research
Although the internet is a wealth of information, we wanted to go straight to the source. No, we didn’t talk to a bunch of stink bugs (conflict of interest, anyone?). Instead, we consulted a variety of pest control professionals for their take on the problem.
After all, if you’re going to get the job done right, who better to guide you than those who do it for a living? We asked these companies to provide us with comprehensive details about both removing stink bugs from the home, as well as how to prevent them. This is what we found.
Stink Bug Basics
When trying to remove an infestation, it helps to know what you’re dealing with first. Although there are several varieties of stink bugs, the most common pest among them is the brown marmorated stink bug. The reason that this species is more of a nuisance is that it will overwinter inside your home, while others prefer to stay outdoors.
You can identify the marmorated species by its marbled appearance and shield-like body. Also, the antenna will have white bands. However, if you find a stink bug inside, chances are that it’s a brown marmorated anyway.
Another reason why stink bugs are such a problem is that they have no natural predators in the U.S. Like so many pests, these insects are an invasive species, spreading across the country in just a few decades. They are much more prevalent inside during the fall, as they will seek shelter to breed.
Unfortunately, a female stink bug can lay close to 500 eggs at a time, so an infestation can spread incredibly fast. Once you notice one in your house, more are sure to follow. In springtime, they will take over your home again, as that’s when they leave the nests to mate and find food. It’s like spring break, only so much worse.
Stink bugs are not only a nuisance inside the home – they can damage many of your plants outside as well. These pests love chewing on various crops, so if you have an indoor or outdoor garden, you need to watch for them more carefully. You can tell when stink bugs are noshing on your fruit when you see white or yellow spots along the outside. Also, leaves and blossoms can wilt from their presence, even during spring and summer.
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs – Commercial Products
If you’re like most people, you want to remove these insects from your house with extreme prejudice. We’ll be sure to cover natural methods to get rid of stink bugs, but chances are you’ll want to start here. Whenever using commercial products, be sure to read the label.
According to our sources, trouble usually happens when a homeowner assumes that all sprays are the same, or that they can be used with impunity. Households with pets, indoor plants, and children need to be extra careful to avoid any potential disasters.
If you’re not sure how to use a chemical or you’re worried about its side effects, call your local pest control company for advice. In many cases, you might want to let the pros handle the situation, both to ensure your safety and to keep these bugs out for good.
Some notes from the experts regarding proper chemical techniques:
- Make sure it’s rated for indoor use. If it doesn’t say, don’t use it.
- Killing stink bugs can sometimes create more problems, as their carcasses will attract other pests. Most of the time, stink bugs live inside the walls, so they’re impossible to get out once dead.
- Focus on entry and exit points, rather than spraying indiscriminately. This way, you can notice the carcasses and remove them as necessary. Also, sealing these cracks will prevent new bugs from getting inside.
- Finally, a home with a substantial infestation should only call a professional. It’s unlikely that you can kill them all yourself, and they will return next fall to cause more problems. These chemicals will mostly act as a preventative barrier – they’re not ideal for pest removal.
Talstar Professional Insecticide
As far as commercial-grade chemicals go, Talstar is the easiest and safest to use. It’s rated for both professional and residential applications, so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it, provided that you follow the instructions. This product is highly recommended because it’s odorless and doesn’t leave any residue once it dries.
Talstar kills stink bugs when they walk across it, so you have a bit more versatility regarding where you can place it in the home. Finally, you can buy smaller quantities of this chemical, making it a better buy for most homeowners. The recommended dosage is one ounce per gallon of water, and it should last for up to a year or more.
Technically speaking, this chemical is a termiticide, although it’s rated for almost all indoor and outdoor pests. Best of all, it’s safe to use inside, even when animals are around. When shopping for Bifen, be sure to get the I/T version, not the XTS.
Because this chemical is concentrated, you need to dilute it sufficiently before using it. The recommended dosage is 0.6-percent or one ounce per gallon of water. Since you’re not trying to remove an infestation, you can use a little less, depending on where you need to apply it.
Typically, the best way to use pest control chemicals like this is to put it in a spray bottle. However, be sure that you can narrow the spray so that it doesn’t mist too much. In most cases, it’s better to spray into a cloth and then wipe down surfaces for a safer and more targeted approach.
According to the label, Bifen I/T should last up to five years, as long as the surface doesn’t get cleaned often. So, if you’re spraying on high-traffic areas, you’ll have to reapply more frequently.
When looking at this label, you’ll see that it’s meant for spiders and scorpions. However, just like Bifen, it’s rated for stink bugs, and you can use it indoors, even in food prep areas, if necessary. Onslaught is a professional-grade solution, so it’s designed for commercial spraying equipment. You can use it as you do with Bifen, though, so don’t worry about having to buy any special gear before spraying.
A word of warning – Onslaught can sometimes stain surfaces. If you’re worried about stains, apply a small amount before starting, and let it dry. If it doesn’t leave any residue, you should be okay. As with Bifen, we recommend diluting this chemical a bit more than what’s on the label. If you’re using it outside, however, you can mix it regularly, since it will help to control a variety of pest populations. According to the label, Onslaught FastCap should last about 12 months.
Natural and Non-Chemical Methods to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
Because these pests can be so hard to manage with chemicals, it’s usually better to use alternative methods. When talking with pest control experts, they said that the best treatment for stink bugs is prevention. Typically, once they invade your house, it’s too late. However, assuming that you notice these bugs right away, you might be able to get ahead of an infestation. Here are the best natural methods for stink bug removal.
Yes, the same machine you use to clean your carpets can also help get rid of stink bugs. However, before you rev up your vacuum’s motor, you need to take a few precautions.
- First, never use a bagless vacuum. As the bugs die and get squished inside, the machine will reek, and it’ll be impossible to clean afterward. If you deal with stink bugs regularly, a designated wet/dry vac can be a good option, rather than using your standard home vacuum.
- Second, if there aren’t too many bugs, you can use a nylon stocking to avoid any mess at all. Simply put the nylon over the nozzle, secure it with a rubber band, and then suck the bugs into the nylon. From there, you can dispense them outside or drown them in a soapy mixture (more on that later).
Unfortunately, stink bugs can fly, so sticky traps are not always the best idea. However, you can use their natural attraction to light against them. One of the simplest ways to collect these pests is to use duct tape and a lamp.
You can either attach the tape to the lampshade, sticky side out, or you can create a lampshade from duct tape itself. As the bugs fly toward the light, they’ll get trapped, and you can remove them at your leisure. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about the smell, since you’re not agitating or squishing them.
Another form of bait can be citrus fruits. Stink bugs love citrus, so leaving a few oranges or tangerines out with duct tape around them can work as well. However, you won’t be able to eat the fruit afterward, so keep that in mind. There are some commercially-available traps, but they use similar tactics, so you shouldn’t spend money on them.
Thankfully, stink bugs are relatively easy to drown. Although they do fly, knocking them off the walls and into a bucket of soapy water will kill them quite efficiently. You can create the mixture however you like, but you shouldn’t need more than a tablespoon of soap for every half gallon of water. Unless you’re killing a lot of stink bugs, less is more in this case.
All you have to do is hold the bucket beneath the bug and tap it. For whatever reason, these insects tend to drop down when disturbed, so you shouldn’t have to handle them too much. They fall in, the viscosity of the soap holds them there, and they drown. It’s that simple.
Squishing – Outdoor Only
As a general rule, you never want to squish a stink bug indoors. The smell is horrible and hard to remove, even with the best air fresheners. However, feel free to get medieval on these insects when spotting them outside. The pungent aroma serves as a warning to other stink bugs to stay away. While this method isn’t foolproof, it can give you some catharsis and help minimize the chance of an invasion.
How to Prevent Stink Bugs in the Home and Garden
As we mentioned, the consensus from the experts is that prevention is the best form of pest control. Rather than having to get creative with stink bug removal, you can keep them from setting up shop inside your home altogether. It is harder to prevent stink bugs outdoors, but that’s where chemicals can be a huge help. Here are our top tips for stopping an invasion before it starts.
Seal Cracks and Crevices
Fortunately, there are multiple reasons why you want to make your home as airtight as possible. Not only can it keep stink bugs (and other pests) out, but it will improve your utility bills as well. One thing to keep in mind is that you should inspect all areas of the house regularly.
Just because you don’t notice a crack today doesn’t mean one won’t form next month or next season. Caulk is an excellent sealant, so walk around with some ready to go.
Another common entry point is ripped or broken screen doors. Be sure to inspect these as well so that you can replace the screen and keep the bugs out. Some homeowners have reported that scrubbing the screen with an aromatic dryer sheet can work wonders for prevention. If you have a few sheets lying around, it’s worth trying.
Check for Areas of Moisture
As with most pests, stink bugs love congregating around water sources. In fact, if you leave a damp towel outside overnight, chances are that it will be crawling with these bugs by morning. Feel free to use that as a method of pest control too, if you like.
Around the home, inspect for any leaks or pools of water and see if you can fix them. Some areas may be hard to repair (i.e., a dip in a concrete patio), but do as much as you can. Overall, moisture isn’t the biggest attractor, so it’s not as much of a problem as openings in your home.
Avoid Using Outdoor Lights During Stink Bug Season
We already mentioned that these insects love light, so any that are outside the home will attract the bugs in droves. Also, keep in mind that indoor lights that are near a window can have the same effect. Realistically, turning your lights on at night won’t cause an infestation, but it can minimize the risk if you notice stink bugs flying around more and more.
Check Plants Around the Home
Finally, the best way to keep stink bugs from getting inside is to pay attention to when they’re close by. Leaves and fruit that have white or yellow markings are a sure sign of stink bugs in the area.
Females will lay eggs underneath leaves, so be sure to flip them over and kill the nest if you find one. Once you notice signs of stink bugs, we highly recommend spraying the area to ward them off. Also, you can trim and prune the plants closest to the house so that the pests won’t be tempted to come in.