If you are one of the unfortunate homeowners who have been overrun by an infestation of stink bugs in the past few years, you will want nothing better than an effective method of stink bug control. These smelly pests are very persistent in the efforts to get inside and congregate in the warmth, to say nothing of their plant-eating habits outside.
A Stinky Problem
Stink bug control isn’t as easy as it seems. Many of the recent problems are owed to a foreign invader called the brown marmorated stink bug, which is normally indigenous to Asia. These bugs are hardy, reproduce fast and have an unfortunate taste for U.S. crops. When hit with normal chemical insecticides stink bugs do die, but their eggs show amazing resistance and hatch despite the poison. Stink bugs are very inventive in finding ways indoors when they want to hibernate and have few natural predators since most birds and other normal bug-eaters hate their chemical stench.
Stink Bug Repellent
Stink bugs release a truly foul odor when frightened or alarmed so a stink bug repellant in spray form would be ideal. These bugs are slow-moving when afoot and tend to congregate in large numbers, making them easy targets. However, commercial repellents don’t seem to actually keep them away. The ones sprayed might die but the repellent doesn’t keep new ones from appearing. Scientists are trying to develop one from a certain type of fungus and from naphthalene, an ingredient in mothballs. Both of these substances have high success rates but are still in the testing phase.
Stink Bug Traps
Stink bug traps are probably the most effective method of stink bug control currently available for inside usage. There are various types of stink bug traps, ranging from sticky traps that resemble flypaper or sticky garden torches to fancier light traps. Light traps are especially effective since stink bugs are drawn to light like moths and can be used outside as a first line of defense. Some people make their own stink bug traps using home methods but they aren’t as effective. A good sticky or light trap can imprison hundreds of stink bugs which can then be disposed of and the trap re-used.
Stink Bug Spray
Insecticides can be either professional-grade or permissible for home use—and neither type is really effective for stink bug control. Pyrethrin pesticides do kill stink bugs when used in large concentrations, but this is only suitable for crops and the eggs endure. Some foggers and stink bug spray chemicals have been marketed for use inside, but they aren’t ideal for the places where stink bugs congregate, such as inside walls and tight spaces. When the bugs die their corpses draw other insects which eat them. These could linger and cause problems, like the larvae of moths which eat fabric.
Stink Bug Predators
One of the most interesting and promising methods of stink bug control is utilizing natural predators. Parasitic wasps seem to be the likeliest candidates. These wasps lay their eggs on the stink bugs, and when the eggs hatch the larvae devour the stink bug. Several native wasp species were noted attacking stink bugs in Virginia and other areas since 2009, so scientists are trying to develop a plan to use these wasps as a control method. Other predators include spiders and praying mantises, as well as a few species of birds such as the common wren.
Stink bug control is just that: control. So far there is no magic bullet to kill stink bugs, especially the brown marmorated stink bug. The only things to do are prevent them from entering homes and by treating the outdoors with pesticides where possible. New methods are on the horizon but it will be several years before any of them are marketable.