Stink bugs can be just as unpleasant as their name suggests. These invasive pests first reached the United States from Asia in the 1990s and since then have spread across the country, becoming a nuisance even in the colder states.
Stinkbugs get their name from their habit of releasing an unpleasant smelling chemical when they feel threatened. The smell has been likened to cilantro, while other people say it smells like sulfur.
Either way, it is not fun to deal with. Stinkbugs emit this chemical to protect themselves from birds and other predators that might otherwise eat them. They will also release the chemical when handled by humans.
Stinkbugs mainly live outdoors, where they are not generally a nuisance (unless you’re a farmer). However, in colder climates, stinkbugs will often come inside structures during cold weather. This overwintering behavior is what brings them into conflict with humans. Stink bugs can sometimes enter structures in huge numbers, creating a big problem for homeowners.
If you have a problem with stink bugs, there are a couple of different ways to deal with it. Unlike most other pests, stinkbugs aren’t coming into your home to find food — everything they like to eat is outdoors. Instead, they’re just coming in to get out of the cold.
The two main approaches for handling stick bugs is to use pesticide sprays around your home or you can trap them once they get inside.
The advantage of using stinkbug traps to deal with stinkbugs is that it doesn’t require the use of toxic pesticides, making it safer for you and your family. Also, traps can often be effective against other bugs that may come inside to get out of the cold.
You can sometimes control spiders, ants, cockroaches, moths, mosquitoes, and all kinds of other pests with the same traps you would use against stinkbugs.
The Best Stink Bug Traps
There are a few different types of stinkbug traps that you can consider using to tackle your problem. Let’s go over the pros and cons of each type of stink bug trap so you can decide which will fit your needs the best.
DynaTrap Indoor Light Trap
Stink bugs are attracted to light, especially ultraviolet light. This trap takes advantage of that fact by using a UV bulb to lure the stink bugs toward it.
Unlike some UV traps for other insects, this trap doesn’t use electricity to zap the bugs. It uses a vacuum fan to pull the bugs inside and traps them to dehydrate and die. The advantage of this is that there are no loud noises or flashing with this trap. If it wasn’t for the blue light that it emits, you might even forget that it’s active.
The trap has an effective range of up to 300 square feet. Because it works based on light, it is most effective when used at night.
It is also best to use it in dark areas where there are no competing light sources, so that stink bugs and other flying creatures will find it easily. Turn off all other lights in the area (as much as possible), and you’ll be surprised just how effective this can be inside your home.
This trap also works to catch mosquitoes, house flies, drain flies, and pretty much any flying insect so it’s a good choice if you have problems with more than one kind of bug.
- Easy to use
- No need to replace any parts or ongoing costs
- Also catches mosquitoes and other bugs
- Relatively expensive
- Requires a power source
- Effectiveness can be reduced by nearby light sources
Stink Bug Glue Traps
There’s nothing high-tech about these glue traps., but that’s part of what makes them useful. These trips are nothing more than a piece of cardboard covered with very sticky glue.
The idea is that any bug that walks over the glue will become stuck. It will either die of dehydration on the trap, or you can kill it when you find it.
The best way to use glue traps is to set them in places that get a lot of stinkbug activity. Check for entry points to your home, such as around windows and doors, close to pipes that go outside, and any other gaps in the structure. Because these traps are so simple, they are cheap, so you can buy lots of them and set them out around the house.
Another nice feature of these traps is that they will catch just about anything small enough to get stuck. Spiders, sowbugs, earwigs, and even mice will all be caught by the strong adhesive, so they are a great way to keep cold-weather invaders out of your home.
Be aware that there is nothing to attract the stink bugs to this trap, so placement is crucial. You need to put the trap somewhere where the bugs will naturally walk right into them.
- Works on a wide variety of pests
- Helps to monitor areas of high bug activity
- Passive trap does not actively attract bugs
- Glue can be messy if stepped on — make sure to fold traps over to prevent this
- Should be kept away from pets who may get trap stuck to them
Outdoor Garden Trap
Stink bugs ordinarily live outdoors, so it makes sense to deal with them outside before they come inside. If you find that stink bugs are feeding on the plants in your garden, this may become a priority!
Outdoor sticky traps can help reduce the stink bug population. The idea is to place them throughout your yard close to plants that the stink bugs like. Fruit trees are popular with the bugs, as are ornamental plants such as holly and mimosa.
These traps are great for reducing the stinkbug population before it becomes a big issue. Also, they are effective against many other species of outdoor pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, gnats, and fruit flies. Designed to be used outdoors, they are waterproof and can stand up to fluctuations in temperature.
Because they are intended for outdoor use, it’s important to use these traps at the right time of year. They work best in late spring, summer, and early fall while the stink bugs are still living outside. Once the weather gets colder, the stink bugs will no longer be active outdoors, and these traps will no longer be effective.
You could also use them indoors if you have indoor plants to protect.
- Weather-resistant for outdoor use
- Catches a wide variety of pest insects
- Can help prevent stinkbugs from becoming a problem later in the year
- Most effective during summer
- Intended to reduce stinkbug numbers, but may not prevent some from coming inside
Sonic Stink Bug Vacuum
Stink bugs aren’t likely to win any beauty prizes and the noxious smell they produce only makes them even more unpleasant houseguests. When you see a stink bug crawling or flying around inside your home, a passive trap may not seem like a quick enough solution. You may want to take matters into your own hands.
This clever bug vacuum can help. Powered by a nine-volt battery, it is designed to gently suck bugs into the clear plastic tube. This allows you to make sure you’ve caught the bug.
It also prevents the bug from being harmed during capture, making this a very humane way to deal with insects. You can then take the bug outside and let it go. If you don’t like the idea of killing bugs, this is a handy tool to have.
It lets you deal with stink bugs without handling them and risking getting their smelly chemical on your skin. Additionally, this vacuum will work on any bug small enough to fit inside, so it can be useful for capturing spiders and other invaders.
One thing to keep in mind, if you’re humanely releasing the stink bug outside they’re probably going to try to make their way back in. You should follow the tips below to prevent them from getting back in the home.
Where to Place Stink Bug Traps
No matter what traps you use against stinkbugs, any trap is only as good as the way that you use it. The key to effective stinkbug trapping is to place the traps in areas where stinkbugs will find them.
Outdoors, that means paying attention to the stinkbug food sources. Place sticky traps in fruit trees and around garden vegetables, as well as the ornamental plants stinkbugs prefer. This will help you catch more of them and reduce the population effectively.
Indoors, it is best to place sticky traps where stinkbugs come into the house. For glue traps to work, the stinkbug needs to walk right into them. Place traps in areas where you see the most stinkbugs and try to think about where these animals may be getting into your home.
If you’re using a light-based trap, anyplace without competing light sources will be best. It may only be effective at the night time when the sun goes down.
How Did Stink Bugs Get Into My Home?
Stinkbugs are relatively large insects, with adults reaching five-eighths of an inch in length and with bodies that are quite wide relative to that length. However, that’s still pretty small when compared to a house!
Stinkbugs are good at slipping through cracks and detecting areas of your home leaking warmth. Here are some of the most common ways that stink bugs get inside the house.
- Inadequate window screens. Window screens with holes or gaps from improper installation can allow bugs to squeeze their way in.
- No weatherstripping around windows or doors. This is one of the most common ways for bugs to get inside. Even a small gap at the bottom of the door or around the frame of the window can be enough to let insects in.
- Cracks and gaps in masonry. Check the walls and foundations of your house thoroughly for any gaps where insects can get inside.
- Gaps around pipes. This is also very common. Check water and gas pipes, dryer vents, air-conditioning conduits, gas, and electrical meters, and anywhere else a pipe or wire enters your home from the outside.
- Leaving doors and windows open. Sometimes, stink bugs and other invaders fly right in through an open door or window. Try to stay mindful of open entrances, especially toward the end of summer and into fall when bugs are looking for a warm place to spend the winter. If it is not possible to close windows or doors, install screens.
Other Ways to Handle a Stink Bug Infestation
Other than using stink bug traps, here’s a few other ways to fight against stink bugs.
Long-term, this is perhaps the best way to deal with the stink bug problem. If the bugs can get inside, they can become a nuisance in your home. Check the places mentioned above where stinkbugs often get inside. Ordinarily, stink bugs will enter and stay close to the warmest side of the house, which is usually the south side.
Check door and window frames, electrical outlets, light switches, skylights, and light fixtures indoors. Outdoors, check dryer vents, water and gas pipes, and anywhere else a conduit passes through the wall of your home. Most small cracks and crevices can be sealed up with weatherproof silicone caulk.
Larger holes may need to be repaired with concrete patches or other methods. Remember that stink bugs can fly, so you’ll need to take a look over your whole house.
The nice thing about exclusion is that it not only offers a chemical-free way to keep stinkbug’s out permanently. It also helps keep other pests out of your home, including spiders, earwigs, mosquitoes, and even mice. Doing exclusion properly requires some work, but it’s worth it to have a permanent solution to your pest problems.
Stink bugs are attracted to light, so think about the lighting outside your home. Try to get rid of any outdoor lights you don’t need to make your home less attractive to bugs. If you can’t reduce the lighting, switch to yellow bulbs which are less attractive to bugs.
As mentioned above, you can also keep stink bugs out by spraying pesticides. The best approach is to use a pesticide with an effective residual that will kill any bugs that cross it even after it has dried, and also repel them from the structure.
A pesticide such as Harris Stink Bug Killer can be sprayed around your home in late summer and early fall. This will create a barrier that will kill stink bugs that try to cross it before they can get inside.
Once the bugs are inside, they can be killed with pesticides designed for indoor use. An aerosol spray such as CB 80 will kill stink bugs on contact when you find them in your house. This product comes with a special crack and crevice applicator that makes it great for applying into wall voids, around pipes, and other places where stink bugs may be entering.
It also has a residual effect that will continue to kill the bugs even after the chemical has dried. Be aware, though, that you may still find dead stink bugs turning up in your house after applying the pesticide.
Another effective way to treat wall voids and other hidden places where stink bugs like to overwinter is using a pesticide dust such as Cimexa. Inside a wall void or around the pipe, dust will stay dry and active for months or even years.
Also, by applying the pesticide into these areas, you mitigate the risk of having it come into contact with you or your family. As long as the dust stays undisturbed in the wall void, it will continue to kill not just stink bugs but any other bugs that try to come inside.
However, these kinds of pesticide treatments should be used only as a last resort. Killing stink bugs inside wall voids runs the risk of attracting other insects that will scavenge on their dead bodies.
This is known as secondary infestation, and it can sometimes be a bigger problem than the stink bugs themselves. That’s why trapping and exclusion are the preferred methods for stink bug control. Only if these methods are not possible in your situation or have already failed should you reach for the pesticide.
There’s no doubt that stink bugs are ugly customers and if they enter your home in large numbers, they can quickly become a real nuisance. However, it’s important to keep this problem in perspective. Large numbers of stink bugs are definitely an issue, but if you only have one or two, try not to overreact.
Remember that stink bugs coming into your house is not a sign of bad housekeeping or poor hygiene. They don’t come inside to eat but to stay warm. Remember also that stink bugs can’t bite people, and can only feed on fruit and plants. Also, stink bugs can only reproduce and lay eggs outside, so don’t worry that a population will start to grow inside your home. The only reason stink bugs are coming inside is to try and stay out of the cold.
Generally, stinkbug problems can be solved by trapping and exclusion without the need for pesticide use. Follow the steps above and you’ll be able to keep your home stinkbug free through the winter.