Practically everyone knows what a stink bug is—the name makes it obvious. However, most people don’t realize that stink bugs are actually real pests beyond their pungent odor. These insects can get into your garden and drink sap from decorative and food plants, causing major damage if an infestation takes firm hold. In the cooler months they can move inside and come into unpleasant contact with your family. Here is how to get rid of stink bugs both inside and outside of your home.
What is a Stink Bug?
Stink bugs belong to the Pentatomidae family, which has more than 4700 species. Some stink bugs are actually beneficial as pest-eaters while others are pests themselves by damaging plants. The common denominator among all species is that they release a foul-smelling chemical when startled or frightened. Although there are more than 250 stink bug species in North America, the crop-devastating foreign brown marmorated stink bug species has grown to epidemic proportions in recent years. Farmers and homeowners all over the country want to know how to get rid of stink bugs.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Homeowners in states all over the East Coast reported infestations of stink bugs in the thousands in their homes last year. Bug-proofing your home is the best tactic for keeping stink bugs out of the house. Since the insects prefer bright, sunward-facing parts of the home check all the windows, baseboards and roof on those sides of the home and caulk or seal any gaps or cracks. Install window and door screens and mesh over gutters and foundations. Since they tend to hitchhike inside on the leaves of decorative plants check anything you bring inside.
Don’t Squash Them!
The odor of one stink bug is repellant; the stench of hundreds of them is unbearable. Since stink bugs react to fear by releasing their noxious scent the best tactic is to not kill them the old-fashioned heavy-handed way. Pest control specialists recommend using a vacuum cleaner to remove large numbers of the pests, especially when you find infestations in the attics and basements. It isn’t a good idea to use the household vacuum cleaner since it will likely be extremely smelly for a while afterward, so use a shop-vac which can be easily cleaned and stored out in the garage.
Stink bugs are attracted to light. If you notice a rise in the stink bug population in your yard it is a good idea to invest in light traps, which will draw the stink bugs to their unwitting demise. Place these traps in the crawl spaces, attic, basement and any other areas where they might congregate. The stink bugs will come to the light and become trapped in a way which won’t trigger their chemical response and the homeowner can simply empty the trap the next day and re-position it. Change locations periodically, as stink bugs have been known to grow “wary” of traps after a time.
It is always preferable to avoid chemical insecticides when possible since insects have been known to grown resistant to them over time—not to mention that pesticides can be dangerous. Sticky traps work like flypaper or rodent glue traps. They may be set out in areas where you have noticed or suspect stink bug activity, such as on windowsills. They draw stink bugs with their sweetish scent and when you have trapped a few on the sticky surface it can be disposed of easily. Like light traps they will need to be moved periodically.
Stink bugs may seem to be an unlikely pest, but the USDA has declared them a growing menace. These insects have devastated thousands of acres of crops and caused millions of dollars in damage to farmers’ and regular homeowners’ livelihoods and property. Using practical methods of how to get rid of stink bugs will allow you to avoid this smelly plague.