How to Fight Stink Bugs in Your House

by John Barry, Site Admin

 

If your home is infested with stink bugs, you already know how difficult they are to eliminate. This article offers advice for how to deal with the problem.



Stink bugs invade homes and sheds as they look for warm places to hibernate for the winter. There is a two-part method for dealing with stink bugs:

OUTSIDE: Stop stink bugs from coming into your home

INSIDE: Kill stink bugs that are already in your home

Once stink bugs have discovered your house, it is very hard to get them to leave permanently, especially outdoors where they lay their eggs. But here are some methods to try to keep them out of your home and live in peace again.

 

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OUTSIDE: Stop stink bugs from coming into your home

How do they get in? Stink bugs can enter through open doors and windows, but they also creep in through the cracks and crevices of your house. They can squeeze through the tiniest openings: cracked siding, holes in window screens, the space between a window screen and window, the space around window-unit air conditioners, window-unit air conditioners vents, the space between siding and windows, outdoor electrical outlets, chimneys, attic vents, dryer vents, door thresholds... the list goes on. They also find comfort in rotted wood, which may be on your window sills, siding, or outdoor deck.

 

The best way to keep stink bugs out of your home is to seal up every possible opening. The same things that you would do to weatherize your house will keep stink bugs out. Yes, this is a time-consuming, difficult, and expensive process. But physically sealing out stink bugs is the most effective way to keep them out, especially once they’ve discovered your house. This is called the exclusion method.

 

Put weather stripping around your windows and doors, and replace any stripping that is worn. Use silicone caulk around window sills and siding. Install screens over your chimney and attic vents. Replace any rotten wood on your house, especially on the sides that face the sun. Fix any holes in your window screens, and make sure there’s no tiny space between the screen and the window. If there is, use tape to seal it up. (Click here for a much more detailed article about how to seal up your house.)

 

Stink bugs are attracted to light. In the evenings, it’s best to keep any outdoor lights off, and turn off as many lights inside your home as possible. Pull down window shades and blinds to keep the light from spilling outside at night.

 

(You may be thinking, “If they’re attracted to light, I’ll hang a bug zapper light outside.” That will work, but at a cost: the light may attract more stink bugs than would’ve come to your home in the first place, and the smell of the dead stink bugs will be intense.)


INSIDE: Kill stink bugs that are already in your home
For individual stink bugs, you can grab them in toilet paper and flush them down the toilet alive. You may have the urge to squash them, but that will just release their stink. Hide rolls of toilet paper throughout problem rooms to grab them with, as tissues or paper towels aren’t safely flushable. If you throw them in and don’t flush them right away, they will crawl out of the toilet. Flushing them uses a lot of water if you do it all day, so if you have more than a few bugs, read on.

It’s very easy to vacuum up stink bugs in your home, but there are some things to keep in mind. Dead stink bugs leave a residue inside your vacuum cleaner, which can stink up your home. Once you suck them up, their smell clings to engine parts, and any vacuum attachments you used. It’s best to have a “stink bug only” vacuum in the house, as to not ruin the one you use for general carpet vacuuming. A small, handheld vacuum might be best, and empty the bag as soon as possible once you’re done. Put the vacuum bag in a thick plastic bag and tie it tightly before throwing it out as far as possible from your house. Then spray some air freshener or deodorizer into the vacuum while it’s running. 

The best way to kill individual stink bugs is cheap and easy. Get a jar and fill it about halfway with water, and mix some dish soap into it, like Dawn. Flick the stink bugs into your jar with a sheet of paper or a paper towel (a paper towel will eventually get stink bug residue on it, so you’ll need to replace it occasionally throughout). Stink bugs don’t like water, and the dish soap helps penetrate their armor. The soapy water is a surfactant which reduces the surface tension of their membranes so the water can penetrate their bodies. You'll see them die after a few minutes of struggling, and they won’t leave their lingering stink.

 

We recommend having jars of soapy water hidden throughout your house, so they're near when you need them. Twist the lid off, flick them in, twist the lid back on. If you have a serious problem and plan to kill many at one time, use a bucket full of the soapy water. Or you can cut the top off of a plastic milk jug, which will give you a bucket with a handle. 


You can also combine vacuuming with this soapy water method. If you have a wet-dry shop vac, you can put the soapy water in the bottom of the vacuum bucket. When you suck them in, they'll plummet into the water and die. 

Even though it would be better to keep your windows closed, if you have them open and see stink bugs outside on the screen, put the soapy water solution into a spray bottle and spray the underside of their bellies. It won't be enough to kill them, but it'll send them flying off of your screen.

If stink bugs gather on the side of your house, you can hose them off with water, or attach a hose sprayer (like the kind used for fertilizer) full of the soapy water solution. Spraying them will send them flying and drop a lot of them to the ground, but this method is only effective if you plan to scoop up the fallen bugs into your soap bucket, or vacuum them up with a wet-dry shop vac.

 

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There are some insecticides that members of this website recommend, but we've chosen not to list those products in this article. You can check out the “What’s Working for You” forum where insecticide suggestions have been posted by members. As new methods of prevention and treatment are discovered, we’ll be sure to update this article.

 


Are these methods working for you? Do you have additional details to offer? Please let us know in the comments below!


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Comment by Robert Dell on October 20, 2012 at 1:54pm

My suggestion to all you folks out there, especially those of you in NH and NC that get TONS of them a year is to invest in praying mantis egg cases.  one mantis can eat ten bugs a day minimum.  getting rough getting to your car? you're the one that NEEDS to invest in mantis egg cases.  order them now and wait until they arrive in the springtime.  You may also want to invest in a few quarts of ladybugs.  flies getting to you? invest in some of them fly wasps that eat flies.  green lacewings are also good for pest control.

once you release this whole barrage of insects, you may not even notice them working but you will eventually notice it's not as bad this year as it's been in previous years.  i've personally released the fly parasites at work because the fly problem was completely unbearable but we had to work anyway.  from then on the following years at work the fly problem was completely gone.  the mantises were eating up a lot of the other bugs.

if you see stink bugs on your screens, just use a shot of air from a can of dusting air for computers.  they don't like that freon...

Comment by Amy Castine on October 5, 2012 at 3:52pm

I live in NH and  am sick and tired of these things i wake up in the am and they are all over my drapes crawling on my ceiling i just cant hack this. This is the first year that i have ever had them like this,it is also the first year i have had a nice and full flower and veggie garden and was wondering if that has anything to do with them nasty critters. i do think i will try the alcohol trick it seems cheep enough. I live in the woods as some would call it or boonies any way we have been cutting trees down and burning them and trying to have a nice yard my Question is that is the things I am doing causing them to flock to my yard vs the neighbors?

Comment by Dee Larson on October 3, 2012 at 12:15am

It rain only drives them into dryer locales...It was a good morning to get a few with insecticide ( I hate it too but, something had to be done so bad this year) as the were swarming the soffits and siding and behind the shutters..not to mention the sound of them hitting the windows all morning. All fall when it rained last year I had them worse inside on the rainy days...chimney, vents...The indoor traps are in place.Nothing else to do..I just keep hoping the swarm the White House/Capital Building really really bad..then maybe we will get some results.

Comment by Ellen Marble on September 28, 2012 at 6:43am

I hear the little suckers dropping down my chimny and hitting the flu..time to start a fire!!!

Comment by Ellen Marble on September 28, 2012 at 6:41am

I have had a prying mantas on my porch that has been making meals if these things. I need more mantas'!

Comment by DW Banks on September 23, 2012 at 10:58am

how long does this stink bug season last I"ve just moved to NC and live by a wooded area and they have so bad I have thought about moving.  I can't even go outside they are so bad around 2-4PM.  I am a hostage in my own home.  Opening my front dooe is impossile.  I have to run out to enter the car, but it never fails they still get in.  I AM SO FED UP!!!!  Any suggestions?   Please help 

Comment by Trey on April 17, 2012 at 8:39pm

Last year was the first time I had ever seen so many of these little pests.  I planted fordhook bush beans and the stinkbugs moved in, completely covering my plants.  They also took over a wisteria plant and fig tree I had at the back of the yard.  They completely covered both of these plants too.  I tried various organic remedies to try and repel or control them but nothing worked, so when fall arrived and they disappeared I didn't think any more of it.  This year however, they came back with a fury and in numbers I couldn't even imagine.  I came home from work one afternoon to find my back porch and one side of the house coated with them.  They had also covered the wisteria and fig tree again.  For about 3 weeks I battled these stinkbugs, using everything from garlic and marigolds to alcohol and a homemade stinkbug catcher using an led light with a 2 liter bottle.  Nothing worked....that is until I finally resorted to pesticides.  I dropped by Walmart today and picked up a 1 quart bottle of Ortho Bug B Gone Max for $9.96.  I got home to find that the pests were all over the house and in the shrubs as well as all over the yard.  I hooked the hose to the sprayer and started soaking everything.  I hit the wisteria bush and fig tree hard since the stinkbugs were so concentrated on the branches that they were actually drooping.  I can't tell you how good it sounded to hear them falling to the ground.  After about 5 minutes they were dropping pretty heavy from everywhere.  After an hour I was amazed at how many were dead....there were piles of them on the ground.  I even climed a ladder and sprayed a 30 foot tall silver maple that they had chewed the leaves off of.  I just happened to notice the heavy damage as I was spraying.  I also sprayed the house and some grassy areas in the yard around the shrubs they were concentrated on.  I went back out about 2 hours after spraying and have only seen a few bugs here and there.  My plan is to wait about a week and do it again.  I don't like using pesticides at all but will definitely continue to use the Ortho.  This stuff is amazing.  (Oh BTW...I know this sounds like a sales pitch for Ortho but it is the real deal).  I tried Sevens and a few organic sprays but they didn't work.

Comment by Stephen on September 25, 2011 at 12:38pm
Chambersburg PA....Seems this year the stink bugs are arriving later than usual.  In years past, they start showing up around Mid to late August by entering the window AC units.  This year, as of date (9/25/11) I've seen three. I usally keep a small canning jar half filled with rubbing alcohol. when I see one on the wall or ceiling I put the jar under the bug and they usually fall in.  They die with seconds.
Comment by Steve Lee on May 1, 2011 at 3:36pm
Great post I also recommend a spray bottle filled with a mix of Dawn...(they hate it) and water..I also power washed my home to get the smell off..(Vinyl siding) first before spraying Talstar Pro... see www.marylandstinkbugs.com for my diary and the information is free..
Comment by Kate on April 27, 2011 at 11:31am
The wet vac method works very well, but don't use soapy water in the holding tank if you have a small hand held one. I tried this and it blew foam all out of the back. I have found that about a pint of water in the tank works just fine. I also sucked some bleach water through after the last killing round of the day to help take the stink out.

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