How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

Last Updated: May 17, 2021

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Did you know there are over 260 different species of stink bugs in North America? Like any insect, these can find their way indoors from time to time. While most of us aren’t appreciative of any insects in our home, stink bugs can be a nuisance, especially if they choose to visit your home in large numbers.

The stink bug has been given its name as a result of the offensive odour that they emit to repel predators. Not that most of us are likely to go looking, but this smell comes from glands in the thorax, just between the first and second pair of legs. The odour resulting from handling or crushing the stink bug is very pungent. While it varies somewhat from species to species, some have compared this smell to herbs and spices like cilantro or coriander.

Stink bugs are generally outdoor insects. Although a few species are predators, the majority feed on plants and, in large numbers, these pests can do considerable damage to crops. In late summer and autumn, falling temperatures cause them to seek out wintering sites such as indoor spaces like homes. While they do not reproduce while indoors, having stink bugs wintering in your home is hardly desirable. On warm sunny winter days, they come out of wintering sites and become nuisance as they congregate on windows or fly around seeking out indoor spaces to keep warm and survive the winter. Like many insect’s stink bugs are also attracted to light.

Should You Kill Stink Bugs?

The odour that the stink bug produces gets quite strong when they are disturbed. Smashing a stink bug, as so many of us are prone to do when confronted with an insect, is not a good idea. These insects are aptly named and never more so than once they’ve been squashed. If the bugs have invaded your home in any number, the smell will be noticeable. It’s not a good idea to go on a stomping spree or even to vacuum them up. It is best to first remove them from the home and deal with them outdoors.

If you’re faced with only a few bugs in your home, they can be swept into a dustpan and quickly disposed of outside. If the bugs have invaded in greater number, then glue board insect light traps are a good option for gathering them up. These traps are different from the “bug zapper” type of light that electrocutes the insect. Glue board traps use light to attract and hold the insects to allow them to be removed from your home. If many stink bugs are present, then changing the glue board trap frequently will be required.

A large infestation may be more than you can handle on your own. If you’re overwhelmed, then stink bugs can be dealt with by a licensed pest management professional. They will have access to the appropriate insect control product to prevent you from having to share your home any longer.

How Can You Prevent A Stink Bug Problem?

The best way to avoid having bugs in your home is to stop them from coming inside in the first place. You can do this by making your home and property less interesting to insects that want to share your space.

Since stink bugs are attracted to light as well as warmth, changing the type of light around your home can help. Replace outdoor lighting with yellow bulbs or sodium vapour bulbs that are less attractive to insects. This change in lighting colour will help to prevent them from being drawn to buildings.

Sealing things up is a good rule of thumb for managing insect intrusions of any sort. Check around your home for likely entrance points – especially the south side of buildings that are exposed to more sun and longer periods of warmth in the fall.

  • Look for holes in window screens or loose-fitting screen panels. Replace the screen or adjust the panels accordingly.
  • Ensure exterior lighting fixtures and electrical outlets don’t provide insects with a path to the indoors. Place weatherstripping or foam sealant under or around electrical fixtures to seal them up.
  • Check doors to see that they fit correctly. Repair any gaps or add weatherstripping to close up any spots that might grant access to insects.
  • Wherever an opening is found the issue will need to be corrected. Repair, seal or caulk these up to help keep your home bug-free.
  • Inspect items that you bring indoors in preparation for the winter, such as firewood, planting pots and decorative ornaments as stink bugs can hitch hike in these types of objects.

If stink bugs have been an ongoing problem an exterior insecticide treatment may be required. A residual insect repellent is an insecticide that that doesn’t easily rinse away or evaporate. Using this around the exterior of the home may be required. Applying the insecticide in the areas where stink bugs are known to appear or likely to attempt to enter the house will provide an extra preventative measure. Application in late summer to early fall, just when stink bugs are likely to start seeking out shelter for the winter, should provide the best chance for success.

When Is It Worthwhile To Call An Exterminator For Stink Bugs?

Knowing when to call in some professional help will depend upon the number of bugs you’re dealing with, and how frequently you’ve had problems.

If you’re finding a few stink bugs in your home occasionally it’s best to escort them outside. While stink bugs will find their way into your home through gaps and openings, they can also be carried in. A few bugs that have hitched a ride on your clothing after some time working out in the yard shouldn’t present a problem.

If the number of insect guests you currently have in your home is high, perhaps 5 to 10 in number, then they have probably found a way in on their own. Another sign would be noticing them start to congregate on a wall outside of a structure. If either of these events have occurred, then it would be best to seek advice from a professional. Contact Orkin Canada today.

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Alice Sinia Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services

Reviewed by Alice Sinia, Ph.D., MSc on May 16 2021.

Master of Science Degree in Pest Management (MSc.) – Simon Fraser University; BSc. (Hons) Biological Sciences (Entomology & Parasitology) – Makerere University; Advanced Level Certificate of Education – Trinity College; Ph.D. – University of Guelph)

With more than 20 years of experience, Alice is responsible for the management of the Orkin Canada Quality Assurance Laboratory located at our GTA Training Centre. She performs analytical entomology (investigates product adulteration using biochemical and comparative tissue methods), and provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients nationwide. In addition, Alice also prepares scientific reports for Orkin Canada clients, updates Orkin management on any changes or updates to any government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. Alice also performs quality assurance account compliance audits.

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