How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

If stink bugs have been making themselves at home within your four walls, it's time to roll up the welcome mat by following these suggestions for eliminating an infestation and keeping the critters out in the first place.

By Donna Boyle Schwartz and Bob Vila | Updated Mar 21, 2022 2:28 PM

How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

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Stop! If you encounter an unfamiliar pest in your home, think twice before swatting it with a magazine.

If you do anything to bother the shield-shaped, dime-size stink bug, you may suddenly find yourself subject to its foul odor, which actually attracts even more stink bugs!

True, that sounds like something ripped from the plot of a bad horror movie, but it’s far from fiction. Native to Asia, stink bugs have proliferated in the United States since first arriving here in the mid-1990s. Today, particularly in the Midwest and along the Eastern Seaboard, they have become a uniquely repugnant household pest.

Preventing Stink Bugs From Entering Your Home

Stink bugs come inside a home because they want a warm place to stay during colder weather while they are inactive. If it’s hard for them to enter a house, they’ll go somewhere else. When they find a good place to stay, they release a pheromone that attracts more stink bugs.

Why Stink Bugs Come Indoors

Most of the year, stink bugs breed and feed outdoors, but when temperatures drop in the fall, they and other pests seek out a warm spot in which to hibernate through winter. Entering via holes and cracks in the exterior, stink bugs tend to hide in the dark, cloistered crevices of the home—behind baseboards, for example.

Because they spend the winter in dormancy, though, it’s possible not even to notice an infestation until the seasons change and the bugs begin hunting for a way back outdoors. That said, it’s somewhat common for stink bugs to emerge earlier, having mistaken an unseasonably warm day for the arrival of spring.

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Things in Your Home That Attract Stink Bugs

Stink bugs don’t enter a home just because it’s a home full of people to annoy. They are trying to survive and need the warmth, moisture, and food that can be found inside a home.

Homes with outside features that are delicious to bugs during warmer months are more susceptible to possible invasion, because the stink bugs are already living nearby. To them, large gardens with ornamental shrubs and trees with fruit are the perfect buffet.

  • Homes with attractive gardens attract stink bugs.
  • Light and reflective surfaces attract stink bugs when it’s dark out.
  • Moisture attracts stink bugs.
  • Food, especially fruit, is attractive to stink bugs.
  • Another stink bug’s scent attracts more stink bugs.

Seal Off Openings

Perhaps the best way to deal with stink bugs is to prevent them from gaining access to your home in the first place.

To that end, go out of your way to locate and seal the little gaps through which they might intrude. Pay special attention to the trim around windows and doors; here, add caulk or weatherstripping to fill in any breaks.

By the same token, make repairs to even minor damage you discover on the siding or foundation. Finally, inspect around utility pipes, behind chimneys, and beneath the roof overhang. In short, wherever outside air or moisture can infiltrate the home, so too can stink bugs. Act accordingly.

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How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs Without Insecticides

There are clearly compelling reasons to shore up your home’s exterior, but if there are stink bugs in your home already, then you may want to take them on directly.

While there are several different ways to successfully take on a stink bug infestation, it can be accomplished with natural remedies. Removing these pests can be easily done with a vacuum, detergent, nicotine, and electricity. However, making sure to not squeeze the stink bug is the most important part of any removal strategy. Not only will it release a foul odor but the foul odor will also attract more stink bugs.

Fortunately, with any of the following methods, you can get rid of stink bugs without creating an awful stench in the process.

1. Suck stink bugs up with a vacuum.

For the average homeowner, vacuuming offers the most effective method of removing even a large number of stink bugs. There’s a catch, though. Afterward, you must be very careful with the vacuum bag. Be sure to close it up tightly—right away—disposing of it at a safe distance from your home. To do otherwise is to invite a recurrence. Also, if you have a bagless vacuum, this isn’t the method for you—unless of course you’re ready to trash the now-smelly vacuum too!

2. Drench them with detergent.

Combine equal parts liquid detergent and water in a spray bottle and employ it to drench any stink bugs you encounter (or any spots where you suspect that they are hiding). Another option: Add the detergent-and-water solution to a small, open container and, using a craft stick or a gloved hand, knock or drop the stink bugs into the liquid. The trick here is to work very quickly, fast enough not to give the bugs an opportunity to emit their signature stink.

3. Concoct a nicotine solution.

For once, you can be glad to have a smoker in the house! Shred cigarettes or butts into a volume of warm water (use about 20 cigarettes’ worth of tobacco for every gallon). Let the mixture soak overnight, and in the morning, strain out the debris. Next, add about 2 tablespoons of dish detergent to the liquid that remains, then funnel the solution into a spray bottle. Now you have a spray that kills stink bugs instantly. For safety, wear rubber gloves when handling the solution.

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4. Hang an electric bug zapper.

Hung in a windowless attic or another similarly dark space in your home, a run-of-the-mill bug zapper can work wonders to lure and eradicate stink bugs. Because the insects die upon contact with the electrical discharge, there’s no residual stink to worry about or suffer through. Just remember to clean the bug zapper every few days to help maintain the efficacy of the unit. (In the case of a lighter infestation, you can probably get away with cleaning the zapper less often.)

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When to Call a Professional to Treat a Stink Bug Infestation

Any of the methods described above can go a long way toward ridding your home of stink bugs, so long as you’re dealing with a problem of modest, manageable size. But keep in mind that some homeowners have reported infestations with stink bugs numbering in the hundreds, if not thousands. In such severe cases, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trained pest professional. A certified, licensed exterminator can put an end to your infestation while also providing advice on how to prevent problems in the future.

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FAQs About Getting Rid of Stink Bugs

Getting rid of stink bugs from a home can be done without them releasing their stinky scent. While there are many ways to get rid of stink bugs, there are also many questions about the best way to do it. To make it easier, the answers to some of the most popular questions about getting rid of stink bugs are below.

Q. Do you need an exterminator to get rid of stink bugs?

No, you don’t always need an exterminator to get rid of stink bugs. There are natural and DIY remedies that can work, including using a vacuum, detergent, nicotine, and electricity.

Q. What keeps stink bugs away for good?

Keeping a home properly sealed eliminates the opportunity for stink bugs to enter a home. It’s important to check the perimeter and openings annually and add any sealant or weatherstripping as needed.

Q. Does killing stink bugs attract more?

Yes, killing a stink bug can attract more stink bugs. If a stink bug is threatened or squashed, it emits an unpleasant scent that attracts more stink bugs. If you want to know how to kill stink bugs or get rid of stink bugs, read the tips in the section above called “How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs Without Insecticides.”

Q. So, can I flush them down the toilet?

Yes, you can flush a stink bug down the toilet. Flushing will eliminate the bug’s chances of emitting the awful scent.

Q. What is the fastest way to get rid of stink bugs?

Vacuuming stink bugs is the best and easiest way to remove them. Make sure you’re using a vacuum with a bag, though, so you can quickly dispose of the bag along with the stink bugs!

Pest problems?
Find licensed pest control experts in your area and get free, no-commitment estimates for your project.
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