If you’ve ever had a stink bug infestation in your household, you already know just how annoying it can be to get rid of these smelly little creatures. Even if you don’t currently have a stink bug problem in your home, learning how to get rid of stink bugs is always a useful skill to learn in anticipation of the summer season. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you kill stink bugs for good. Read on to learn more about:
- What exactly stink bugs are — and why they pose a threat to your home
- How to get rid of stink bugs and prevent them from returning
- Why stink bugs might be attracted to your home
We’ll also introduce you to a few options you have for pest control services if you have a more serious stink bug infestation in your home.
What are Stink Bugs?
When most homeowners in the United States think about a stink bug, they’re picturing a brown marmorated stink bug. These annoying insects are best identified by their shield-shaped bodies and their gray-brown color scheme, which help them blend in with their environment and avoid predators. Larvae of stink bugs resemble small, round pellets and are usually green in color. While older stink bugs may have coloring that looks like tree bark, younger nymphs might have variations in coloration, including spots of red and orange.
Though stink bugs are native to Japan, South Korea, China, and other countries in Asia, they were introduced to the United States in Pennsylvania during the 1990s. As there are no natural predators of stink bugs in North America, these pests were quickly able to reproduce and spread throughout the country. Today, you can find stink bugs in most parts of the continental United States, especially during the summer and fall seasons.
Even though stink bugs pose no real threat to people, they are unpleasant to have in your home because they produce an odorous defensive chemical when they feel threatened. The smell of this defensive chemical has been described as a “pungent odor that smells like coriander” or cilantro. While this defense mechanism helps keep the bug from being eaten by birds and lizards, handling or squishing the bug may also release the stinky odor. Most people find this foul odor to be unpleasant, which makes it difficult to get stink bugs out without releasing the chemical substance.
Brown marmorated stink bugs use a variety of points of entry to invade your home during the early fall. Attics, crawl spaces, and entryways are two of the most common ways that stink bugs can get into your home, but you’re also likely to find plenty of them making their way into your home via windowsills and screens. While not as destructive as termites or as dangerous as wasps, stink bugs can become a smelly nuisance in your home, especially if you allow populations to reach infestation level.
Are you finding large numbers of stink bugs in your home? While these annoying critters can make it feel impossible to enjoy your own home, there are a number of home remedies you can use to expel these pests from your home. Consider using one or more of the following remedies to get rid of the stink bugs in your home.
Method #1: Make a Stink Bug Trap
While you can pick individual stink bugs out of your doorways and window sills, a large number of stink bugs can make it tough to get rid of each one by hand. Making a few stink bug traps can get rid of much of the heavy lifting that comes with getting stink bugs out of your house. To create a stink bug trap, you’ll need the following supplies:
- A two-liter bottle (a clean, empty soda bottle works perfectly)
- A loose razor blade or X-acto knife
- LED light
- Black tape
- Electrical tape
- A long, thin object (like a pencil)
Use your razor blade or knife to cut off the first third of the bottle, including the lid and neck. Set this part of the bottle aside, as you’ll need to use it later. Wrap the bottom of the bottle with black tape to stabilize it and set your LED light inside of the bottle. This will attract stink bugs through the night. Take the bottle’s top, flip it over, and reattach it to the bottle using the masking tape to create a funnel. Finally, put strips of masking tape on the side of the bottle in strips.
Stink bugs who are attracted to the light will enter the bottle but will not be able to exit because they cannot climb up the sides of the slippery bottle. The masking tape on the exterior of the bottle provides traction that the stink bugs can use to climb the bottle, becoming trapped in the funnel. If you need to turn the LED light on before going to bed, do so using the pencil. In the morning, you’ll be able to dump the collected stink bugs outside, eradicating these pests without the use of insecticides or unnatural repellants.
Method #2: Use Garlic Spray
If you don’t mind the smell of garlic, you can ward off stink bugs from your property with a DIY garlic spray. Grab a spray bottle and chop up a few cloves of garlic. Add warm water to the spray bottle and mix the minced garlic into the water to finish your natural stink bug repellant.
Spray the garlic mixture in areas where stink bugs are likely to enter your home. Garages, doorways, and windowsills are excellent places to start. This method of stink bug removal can be especially useful if you have crevices in your home that you haven’t used caulk on yet, as the scent permeates the perimeter of your home. While you can use this on everything from furniture to clothing, most people only use the garlic mixture on the exterior of their home to prevent the overwhelming scent from taking over their property.
Method #3: Use a Soap and Water Mixture
Can’t stand the smell of garlic? You can also keep stink bugs away from your property without the use of garlic or pesticides with a simple soapy water mixture. Simply fill a spray bottle with three parts warm water and one part liquid dish soap or mild detergent. You can spray this mixture directly on the stink bugs or you can use it to coat the exterior of your property. Be sure to avoid using a detergent with bleach so you don’t accidentally cause damage to your property.
Method #4: Invest in a Bagged Vacuum Cleaner
If you’ve done a good job of limiting stink bugs’ food sources and filling crevices in your home, there may only be a few spaces in your home where stink bugs congregate. In this circumstance, it can be easy to expel stink bugs from your house by sucking them up with a vacuum. If the stink bugs are entering through a window, consider investing in a cordless vacuum to suck up stink bugs in just a few minutes.
If you decide to use a vacuum cleaner to control stink bug populations, be sure to choose a model with an interior bag. When stink bugs feel threatened or are sucked up by your vacuum cleaner, they will release their odorous pheromone scent, which will linger in a bagless vacuum. However, if you have a vacuum with a bag, you can throw the stink bugs away right after vacuuming and the smell won’t continue to contaminate your home.
Method #5: Try Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a type of sedimentary rock sold in powder form that includes a variety of substances that act as natural pesticides. The DE powder contains traces of elements like aluminum and silicon, and is harmless to humans but breaks down the exoskeletons of insects like silverfish, roaches, and stink bugs. This leads to lethal dehydration, quickly killing the insects invading your home.
You can find DE powder in feed stores, hardware stores, and online home improvement retailers. To use diatomaceous earth, sprinkle the powder around areas where you notice insects entering your property. If you see individual insects, you can also sprinkle the DE powder directly on them.
Method #6: Use Hairspray
First things first — hairspray will not kill stink bugs, and you shouldn’t consider replacing your home’s insect repellant with a can of it. However, the chemicals in hairspray do have the power to immobilize and paralyze stink bugs, which prevents them from releasing their odor. After spraying the bugs directly, you can pick them up and move them outside before the chemicals in the hairspray wear off. While hairspray is not a permanent remedy to a house full of stink bugs, it can be a quick fix if you have a few pests in your home.
While you’re likely to smell a stink bug infestation before you can see it, knowing the signs of a growing stink bug community can help you stop these pests before they become a more annoying and expensive problem. Here are a few of the most common telltale symptoms that indicate that you might have more stink bugs in your home than you originally thought.
Smell Around for Odors
Stink bugs have their name for a reason — most people find the pungent, cilantro-like odor of these pests’ defensive chemicals to be very unpleasant. The most effective way to know if you have a stink bug problem in your home is to follow your nose and sniff around any dark, warm place in your home where the bugs might be congregating. While you’re unlikely to notice a long-lasting stench if you only have a few stink bugs in your home, a persistent odor typically means that there is a latent group of stink bugs hiding in your home.
Look For Bodies
Another easy way to identify a potential stink bug problem in your home is to take notice of areas in your home that happen to attract stink bugs. Well-known entry points to your home (like your doorway or window screens) might have live stink bugs crawling around them, but pay attention to any dead stink bugs you find in your home. Even if you don’t see pests crawling around, the presence of dead stink bugs scattered throughout your house might mean that there is an entry point you’re not seeing. If the pests overwinter in your home, you might also notice eggs, larvae, or antennae in random places around your property even after the summer and fall seasons.
Don’t Ignore Damage to Plants
Stink bugs are known as crop pests, which means that they feed on the fruits and vegetables that humans grow and consume. If you notice any other signs of a stink bug infestation in your home, you should be especially vigilant when searching your houseplants for damage. When stink bugs feed from a houseplant, they usually suck the sap from the leaves, which results in marring and eventually the leaf turning brown. If you notice a sudden influx of drooping, dead leaves on your houseplants, stink bugs might be the culprit.
You’ll also want to take a look around your kitchen for signs of stink bug damage. Stink bugs are known to feed on almost every type of fruit or vegetable, so if you have a fruit bowl on your counter or table, check its content for bite marks. Stink bugs tend to be attracted to grasses and weeds, but they have also been known to eat corn, grains, and fresh produce that you leave accessible.
A stink bug infestation can be a major hassle to deal with — which is why it’s usually easier to prevent these pests from entering your property in the first place. During the day, most stink bugs will stay outside of your home. But as the sun starts to set and the night gets cold, stink bugs might enter your property looking for somewhere warm to rest. Use these tips and tricks to keep pests outside.
- Caulk off tight spaces in your home: Despite their size, stink bugs can get into your home by squeezing through spaces as small as 1/6th of an inch wide. Searching your home for small gaps and cracks where stink bugs could be entering your property and sealing them is the best step that you can take to keep these pests out of your home. Use a caulking tool with latex or silicone latex, as these materials dry clear and help hide any mistakes you make during application.
While searching your home for small crevices can feel like an annoying task, there are areas in your home where stink bugs are more likely to enter than others. Note which side of your home faces the setting sun — sunset is when stink bugs will begin looking for a warm place to take shelter, which might include cracks in your home’s siding or foundation. Make sure all of your window screens fit tightly and do not leave any cracks for bugs to sneak through. Finally, consider installing door sweeps under your doorways to prevent bugs from coming inside when you do.
- Try essential oils: If you’re looking for a more natural way to repel stink bugs, apply a mixture of essential oils and water to major entry points in your home. Essential oils like clove, lemongrass, spearmint, and ylang ylang are exceptionally effective at repelling stink bugs. However, keep in mind that essential oils diffuse rather quickly, which means that you’ll need to reapply them every few hours to maintain an effective barrier.
- Avoid pesticides: If you’re like most homeowners, your first thought is probably to start spraying pesticides around the exterior of your home. While this might work with other pests, stink bugs’ shells make them particularly hardy and resistant to pesticides and chemicals. If you have a serious infestation and home remedies just aren’t working, we recommend contacting a professional pest control company. These professionals have commercial-grade treatment options that will eradicate the pests in your home safely and efficiently.
Hiring a Pest Control Company
If you’ve tried home remedies and nothing seems to be getting the stink bugs out of your home, you might want to consider bringing in the professionals exterminators. Professional pest control service providers have access to enhanced tools as well as the training and experience needed to create a comprehensive plan to tackle even the toughest pest infestations. If you have tried our tested methods and you still have stink bugs in your home, don’t continue to pour harsh chemicals or pesticides on them — call in the experts for a safer and healthier fix.
Professional pest control might even be more affordable and accessible than you believe. For example, nationwide pest control service provider Terminix has more than 300 individual locations across the United States. In many areas, you might even be able to see a technician at your home the same day that you call. Calling in the professionals when you can’t get rid of a pest infestation on your own doesn’t only save you stress — it can also end up saving you time and money by the time you’re finally enjoying a bug-free home.
Ready to begin exploring your professional pest control options? Unfortunately, not every pest control company is equally as prepared to handle insects as resilient as stink bugs. At Today’s Homeowner, we understand that you don’t want to allow just anyone into your home — which is why we’ve reviewed dozens of nationwide pest elimination companies to find the best ones to recommend. Be sure to consider the following top pest control services when you have a stink bug problem in your home.
Terminix is one of the largest pest control companies in the United States — and they tackle much more than just termite infestations. Terminix maintains more than 300 individual locations to provide region-specific pest control services, no matter where you live. With more than 50,000 households calling on Terminix every year, there’s little question why this company is one of our top recommendations for stink bug infestations.
If you have an ongoing problem with stink bugs, you might want to consider investing in Terminix’s quarterly pest control program. After an initial consultation, Terminix’s team of local ecology experts will create a custom plan to tackle all of the pests on your property — from stink bugs to wasps and from termites to bed bugs, Terminix will eradicate every problem creature in your home and out. Terminix’s plans include continuous exterior treatments throughout the year, which can be ideal if stink bugs aren’t the only pests invading your home.
Like their single treatments, your results are guaranteed with the quarterly treatment option. If the pests return after Terminix removes them, they will return and correct the problem so long as you have your plan. Depending on where you live and the size of your lawn, you might even pay less than $50 per visit for continuous protection.
Another major name in pest control services, Orkin has enjoyed more than 120 years in business thanks to their team’s commitment to excellence and ongoing training for team members. Orkin employs a full team of pest control experts who use local and regional climate data to customize a plan for your local pests. With both single treatments and continuous protection available, Orkin is another experienced and trustworthy name in nationwide pest protection.
Like Terminix, Orkin offers both individual pest eradication visits and ongoing treatment options. Depending on your location and the size of your property, you’ll pay between $40 and $60 per month to keep your home protected from pests like wasps, roaches, termites, and more seasonal intruders. Orkin understands that sometimes, pest emergencies don’t happen on a convenient nine-to-five schedule — which is why their team will visit your home within 24 hours from the time that you call. If you have a severe pest infestation that needs corrective treatments fast, a call to Orkin is definitely worth making.
If you’re concerned about the experience of the technicians visiting your property, Orkin can be a strong choice for your family. Orkin professionals must undergo more than 160 hours of training before they visit your property, ensuring that you receive the highest quality services every time you book a visit. Orkin also has more than 400 locations around the world, meaning that you’ll be able to find service almost anywhere.
FAQs About Getting Rid of Stink Bugs
What attracts stink bugs to your house?
Light and reflective surfaces are the two primary things that attract stink bugs to a home. Stink bugs tend to invade homes in the fall and later summer seasons when looking for a warm place to overwinter and lay eggs. You can prevent stink bugs from entering your property by sealing all cracks in the exterior of your home and by removing food sources (like open garbage cans) from your property.
Do dryer sheets repel stink bugs?
While not the most effective method for getting rid of stink bugs, you can repel these pests temporarily using dryer sheets. Place the dryer sheets near entry points of your home where stink bugs can get into your property. To enhance this method’s effectiveness, consider spraying your dryer sheets with essential oils like cloves or ylang ylang that further repel stink bugs.
Where do stink bugs go at night?
Stink bugs get cold at night, which means that they gravitate toward warm places and sources of light. You can often see stink bugs huddling near porch lights and window sills, which they then use to get inside your home. This is part of the reason why sealing crevices in the exterior of your home is an important step to keep stink bugs out.
What happens if a stink bug bites you?
If you’re afraid of stink bugs, you’ll be relieved to know that these pests are not known to commonly bite humans. Stink bugs do not bite humans or pets, and they are not currently a known carrier or vector of any major disease. However, some people are sensitive to the compound that stink bugs release when they feel threatened, which may result in symptoms like watery eyes and a runny nose if you handle a stink bug.
Today's Homeowner Rating & Methodology
Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically.
- Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score.
- State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability.
- Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
- Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support.
- Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher.