The term stink bug describes any insect belonging to the Pentatomoidea family of insects, known for their titular ability to emit an offensive odor when threatened. Normally, these insects prefer to stay outside, but certain conditions can compel them to come indoors where they can quickly become a nuisance. Luckily, knowing what draws the stink bugs indoors in the first place can inform the most effective pest control methods.
Almost all insects overwinter -- or go into hiding during winter months to avoid harsh temperatures. There are many possible overwintering sites for stink bugs; occasionally they may find their way inside homes. Adult stink bugs usually begin looking for overwintering sites in September and early October. Stink bugs generally overwinter in tall evergreen trees such as pine, fir, hemlock or spruce, but may make their way into your home when seeking more protection.
Use silicone or latex caulk to seal cracks, crevices and any other openings that could serve as an entrance for stink bugs, particularly around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes and behind chimneys. All doorways and windows should have tight-fitting screens, and any damaged screens should be replaced prior to September.
Natural Control Methods
Small infestations of stink bugs can be removed by hand or vacuumed up, but note that hand-removal may be time-inefficient as the infestation grows and that your vacuum cleaner could take on the foul odor of stink bugs. Stink big traps that contain pheromones can trap many stink bugs at a time.
Insecticide treatments are generally marginally effective against stink bug infestations. If you notice stink bugs trying to make their way indoors, a pyrethroid insecticide sprayed around the perimeter of the home can sometimes be effective. If the stink bugs are already indoors, insecticide treatments are generally ineffective. Dust treatments can kill large numbers of bugs but the stink bug corpses can attract a new infestation of bugs that feed on the dead. Aerosol foggers kill bugs that happen to contact the insecticides but will not kill any bugs in hiding. Long-term indoor stink bug control can only be achieved through exclusion measures.
- The Janesville Gazette; Stink Bugs are Coming: Damaging insects Making Way to Midwest, Scientists Say; Frank Schulz, July 9, 2011
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences; Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
- The Boston Globe; Hold Your Noses -- the Stink Bugs are Moving Indoors; Ann Butler; November 12, 2006