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 Lydia Whitney on March 21, 2011 at 10:40am

These are some great tips, but I keep having visions of stinkbugs taking over the sewers and breeding in my septic tank.  I have literally seen them float in water for DAYS and then revive once the are dumped out of the water...

Comment by zen on October 11, 2010 at 8:44am
SIMPLE SOLUTION!! Just fill a spray bottle (with nozzle set to stream) or a water pistol with RUBBING ALCOHOL! Spray the bugs until saturated and they fall and die within SECONDS! No mess to clean up because the alcohol EVAPORATES! A lot easier than using soapy water.......It works every time!
Comment by JC on October 10, 2010 at 8:12am
Hello folks - Nikki at CCG posted this link to a very interesting idea for a trap for stinkbugs - http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2010/10/stink...

What a simple yet effective idea! I was thinking that if you used the more permanent product for the trap you could spray the inside with Demand CS and be shaking out dead stink bugs. Or if you used cardboard you could apply something very sticky to the inside (ideas, anyone?) and dispose of the whole thing. Save that cardboard for next year! Great yet inexpensive idea. We all know how they seek out tight spaces.
Prayers are answered!!
Comment by BT on October 2, 2010 at 4:07pm
The rain may have drown a few but there back here in western maryland today. It is warm today and cool at night so I see a lot of activity and have already termenated at least 40-50 today and it's only 4 pm.
Comment by jose grove on October 2, 2010 at 4:02pm
sorry, I don't think rain alone will kill the bastards
Comment by SBMST on October 2, 2010 at 2:30am
Does anyone out there think all the rain recently in the Northeast will eliminate some of the stink bugs?
Comment by jose grove on September 26, 2010 at 9:49pm
I put them in the toilet and spray a little palmolive solution on them.(green original formula, about 1 part palmolive to 4 parts water)
They die in about 2 minutes. when the wings spread out a bit they are almost dead. I usually use a piece of folded paper to scoop them up.
Comment by TIM on September 22, 2010 at 3:56pm
Stumbled on this site, mixed up some dawn in a spray bottle and went to war, lol. They diffenitely don't like the soap, spray and watch them fall and die a slow death. seems to be a very quick way to clear an area, of course it won't keep them from coming, but at least I can go out on my patio with a weapon.
Comment by BT on September 20, 2010 at 12:55pm
lizardtoes try catching them in the house in a water bottle with a little dish detergent. Slowly move the open bottle to them and they usally jump right in. That way these is no stink inside the house. After a while you will get good at catching them. It is a pain in the butt but better than the smell or more bugs. Outside I spray them with the same detergent and water mix. Works good on killing them.
Comment by lizardtoes on September 19, 2010 at 8:06pm
Ok, so, wait. If I kill them, they release their stink, which attracts more of them? How do we ever control them if we can't kill them? Would getting rid of the fruit trees in our yard help? I'll cut them all down if it will. I can't take this insanity anymore.

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