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The 2015 Farmers Almanac
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Attack of the Stinkbugs!

Attack of the Stinkbugs!

Has this ever happened to you: You’re cleaning up around your house when you spot a massive brown bug that looks like something from a sci-fi action thriller. If the critter in question has a broad, shield-shaped body with stripes around the edges and on the antennae, long legs, and a comparatively tiny head, you may have a stinkbug on your hands.

The brown marmorated stinkbug, or simply stinkbug for short, is an invasive pest that is native to China. It was first discovered in the United States in the late 1990s, in the state of Pennsylvania. Stinkbugs have since spread to 40 states, as well as parts of Canada, though they are still most plentiful in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

Stinkbugs range in size from half an in to an inch in size, but their most notable characteristic is the one that gives them their name. When stinkbugs are frightened, disturbed, or killed by crushing, they emit a pungent odor that some describe as skunk-like.

Stinkbugs are becoming an increasingly problematic agricultural pest — the herbivorous insects inject their sharp, pointy mouths into fruit and other crops, leaving behind rotted areas that make them unviable for sale as fresh produce.

To the average homeowner, though, stinkbugs are mostly harmless. They do not cause any structural or other damage and, unlike roaches, ants, and other common household pests, stinkbugs are solitary creatures and do not travel in colonies. While you may find a group of stinkbugs together in a garden, these are simply individuals drawn to the same food source.

Stinkbugs emerge in the spring to feed and reproduce. As the weather turns colder, the bugs start invading homes in search of a warm place to spend the winter. Late July and August are the most common times to see damage on plants.

So what do you do if you encounter a stinkbug, and how do you keep them out? Here’s a quick primer:

In Your Home
If you find a stinkbug, or a few, in your home, do not panic. Stinkbugs are harmless to humans, structures, and fabrics. Whatever you do, do not crush a stinkbug. As its name suggests, a threatened or crushed stinkbug will release an unpleasant, skunky odor. The easiest way to get rid of stinkbugs is to vacuum them up. If you have a a Shop-Vac or a little-used spare vacuum you keep in a garage, use it to prevent the smell from infiltrating your home. Be sure replace the bag immediately, or clean out a bagless model with vinegar.

Some people like to catch stinkbugs and flush them down the toilet. While effective, this method also results in a lot of wasted water if used too frequently.

Keeping Them Out
To keep stinkbugs from invading your home in the first place, make sure everything is sealed up well. Fill in cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, chimneys, and underneath fascia with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Repair or replace damaged screens on doors and windows.

In The Garden
While stinkbugs pose no real threat to homeowners, they can be incredibly destructive pests for farmers and gardeners. They feed on a wide range of tree fruits and seed pods as well as many vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, beans, and sweet corn.

To keep stinkbugs from devouring your garden, you can purchase commercial stinkbug traps that will capture adult stinkbugs. Planting sunflowers and marigolds will also help by attracting beneficial insects that will eat stinkbug eggs and larva.

59 comments

1 Chris { 07.28.15 at 8:41 pm }

These stink bugs were so bad when I lived in TN. You could not go outside without them getting into house. They stink really bad. I really hate them and their smell.

2 susan { 07.28.15 at 3:55 pm }

The BROWN MARMORATED stinkbugs, with the shield shape, are NOT the stinkbugs we grew up with. These are new and invasive. They smell like a teenage boy’s gym socks left in the locker all year long. We in NJ were invaded by them several years ago (5 or so now) and they were so bad for a while I was crazed. Now Terminex sprays the exterior walls of my house in August and September, and in May, and we have gone from catching and flushing over 100 a day to one every so often. They mainly enter through poor fitting screens. I spray my screens with peppermint spray for good measure. They are a satanic scourge, that is for sure. They like to nest in clothes over the winter. They do NOT hate water; we mostly find them in the shower these days. DONT vacuum them! The next time you turn on your vac, you will fill your home with eau du rotten gym socks. Ugh. Grab them with tissue without squashing them and drop them in a container of vinegar, alcohol, dish soap, or the like, and close the top. Flush them all away once a day. Good luck. Not one of the best things we ever imported from China…

3 juanita lewis { 07.23.15 at 1:20 pm }

i dont have a big problem with them but saw a special on television one day…this guy wraps duck tape inside out around a can a big one…put holes in the can and put a bulb inside string it on a hanger and hangs it up the light attract them and they get stuck to the duck tape…then you throw the can away and do it again on another one no muss now fuss… a guy makes money selling these can things it cleared his yard his kids couldn’t go outside there was so many…now hes almost bug free….worth a try…

4 JD { 05.18.15 at 10:46 pm }

I put the stink bugs I find into our paper shredder. The paper shreds that are in there absorb the stinky smell and the bug does not come back out.

5 PUP { 04.20.15 at 10:37 pm }

also, although I dont like to use toxic chemicals… you can use moth balls between the screens and windows and I have dropped one or two of these behind light and wall fixtures. they appear to dislike water and rain so I discovered my white noise machine helped to get rid of them usingthe waterfall setting. no kidding. between the little smoking of the sage and waterfall and the garlic spray… they left. finally.

6 PUP { 04.20.15 at 10:34 pm }

they truly detest garlic. smash up some fresh garlic or make a spray using garlic powder with water and spritz the woodwork around the windows and doors and on your decks but keep your animals away from licking it, til dry. These bugs also fear sage smoke so I’ve used one bright lamp while burning a tiny bit of sage to draw them out, usually when it smells too bad to sleep at night. I also use skin so soft by avon on myself and my baskets and mats out front. and am allergic to insect bites and stings. who says they do not bite or ruin property interest has not had to deal with them, obviously.

7 Sarah { 04.17.15 at 10:01 pm }

I use a bug zapper paddle

8 Jennifer { 04.17.15 at 7:01 pm }

I keep an old jar of vinegar and dawn dish soap in my kitchen and bathroom. I put them in that and it stops there smell and kills them. My kids call it the drink bugs grave yard.

9 Brenda Hunnicutt { 04.17.15 at 6:27 pm }

we played with them as children,I’m 67 now.you can put them on the top of a paper plate and they will walk the circle until they die.maybe. They will walk that paper plate circle, I gave up watching them do it until I let them go.

10 Penny Oulds { 04.17.15 at 2:41 pm }

I have a $500 Dyson vac and I am not using it to suck up stink bugs. We have an old stone house with too many crevices to close up. I grab them in a tissue and put them in the toilet. I wait until someone “goes” to flush so we don’t waste water.

11 Donna { 04.17.15 at 10:34 am }

When I see a stink bug I will kill it and then flush it down the toilet.

12 bec { 04.17.15 at 10:19 am }

Windex works great, paralizes them instantly,and you can clean your windows after.

13 Selena King { 04.17.15 at 7:06 am }

We live in an old(1800). log cabin. We have fought them ever since we have lived there. We have found, using an empty water/soda bottle with a mix of a few drops of Dawn dishwashing detergent and enough water to fill about 1/3 of bottle. I have a pair of long tweezers. I grab them fast enough to keep them from releasing their stink. The stink is loaded with theremones, which lures more of the critters. We catch between 100+ a day. But by doing this we have noticed less each year. Saying they don’t bite, is WRONG! I have had several bites on my body from them. Very painful!

14 Susan { 04.17.15 at 6:47 am }

We spray peppermint essential oil mixed in water around doors and windows in the fall. Keeps spiders and mice from moving in. Happily it seems stink bugs don’t like it either and we were not plagued with them this winter. I resprayed the is Spring when we saw the first couple and no new ones have come in. :)

15 Gail { 04.17.15 at 1:16 am }

Even though I can not offer any cure for one of the most disgusting words in the English language. Seriously, the words ” stink bugs ” deserves to be in the same sentence with words like, ” Oswald “, ” Isis ” and “Bates Motel”. I live in the foot hills of the NC mountains and over run by you guessed it “stink bugs”. Recently I retired and purchased a small place at Topsail Beach,NC. Guess what………. NO stink bugs !!!! Not even one, none , Nada, Zilch, !!!! I have lived on the beach now for 6 months and still not the first stink bug. Right before retiring I was able to gain a little control over the creepy and disgusting creatures. Like you I went on line looking for a way to rid myself of these things. And, like you I read every way under the sun to get rid of them from vacuuming to getting them intoxicated with rubbing alcohol. Nothing that I read said very little about killing them. Everything spoke mainly about sneaking up on them and trapping in a jar or vacuum cleaner. None of this really made too much sense with me. But there was one thing that did make sense to me and that was here was this bug living in my warm house and having sex on a regular basis and making more and more babies which will in no time be having sex in my warm house and making even more babies……. you get the picture. As a result my boy friend and myself decided to try something completely different. Since everything that I read says that they are attracted to light and light colors especially yellow. So we decided to cut every light in the house off. We placed a burning lamp in the center of the largest room in the house. Every time a stink bug showed up we would kill it by smushing it between 4 layers of paper towels. The 4 layers is very important because any layers less than 4 and their “stink” will bleed through onto your fingers. It took about 3 days of this and we finally got the situation somewhat under control. IMPORTANT !!! Notice I said ” stink bugs under control” and not ” stink bug free “. There is a difference. It may creep you out at first with the feel of squashing the stink bugs but in time it gets easier. I have compared my method to others and mine seems to have better results. Give it a shot, what have you got to lose but some dead stink bugs and after all what is the goal to all of this.

16 Dee { 04.17.15 at 1:16 am }

Killing, catching, finding, seeing etc.etc. isn’t the problem. My home is infested with them. They land on me while I’m watching tv, sleeping etc.etc. my question is HOW DO I GET RID OF THEM??

17 Linda L Pierson { 04.17.15 at 12:14 am }

I use finger nail polish remover in a spray bottle it locks them up and they die a few seconds later then just throw them away outside properly the remover will disapates

18 Linda L Pierson { 04.17.15 at 12:08 am }

put some fingernail polish remover in spray bottle with in seconds they lock up and die and the spray disapates

19 jt { 04.16.15 at 10:43 pm }

Live in St. Louis MO. These stinkbugs would be on sides of houses and ground in the 60’s when i was in grade school.

20 Darla McMinn { 04.16.15 at 10:28 pm }

I live in Western North Carolina (just outside of Asheville), and we also had stink bugs growing up in the 60’s – 70’s, however, ours were a green color, and certainly were not invasive, as these brown ones currently are…I am allergic to these brown ones (they make my eyes itch, nose burn & run, and my throat sore, along with coughing, if I encounter their spray when catching them), they smell horrible, they do spot walls, fabrics, appliances, furniture, and spots are noticeable if same is light colored. I have gotten up to 20+ a day, and I truly hate these bugs. I have to check my clothing, bed covers, shoes, towels, etc., on a daily basis. I have a soda bottle trap with a little peroxide, bleach, or bug spray in the bottom, and empty the bottle each week, and start over again. I’ve stopped going barefoot inside my home, as I have dark colored carpet in some rooms, and so that makes them very hard to see when walking around, but I definitely know it if I’ve stepped on one…Immediate stink!!!!

21 gail { 04.16.15 at 10:17 pm }

This looks like the bugs we found in the house over winter. For all insects that aren’t welcome in the house, I keep a few cans of cheap, tacky aerosol hair spray around. Coat the intruder completely with the hairspray and within a few seconds they are dead. Scoop up with a tissue and throw out, done deal!

22 Phyllis { 04.16.15 at 9:22 pm }

My best suggestion to lesson their numbers, is chickens. Chickens love these little bugs, dead or alive. Sweep them up and throw them out and the chickens come running.

23 Katherine Parlove { 04.16.15 at 9:17 pm }

My neighbor down the street planted Lemon Grass all around her house and yard and had very few last year compared to my yard. I’m going to try planting several this year as a test. We are in Maine and I have only seen or noticed them in the last decade here. Never saw them when I was growing up which was many years ago but let’s not go there!

24 gg1557 { 04.16.15 at 8:55 pm }

These are very creepy bugs. While vacationing in North Carolina, I found four in our very immaculate hotel room. I quietly brought it to the attention of the front desk and he told me they are having a huge problem in that area due to all the local vineyards. So I grabbed a soft, fluffy towel and grabbed them all off the ceiling and threw them in the flush. No odor. No more problem. But here in Maine, I know they’re just waiting for the warm up!

25 DK { 04.16.15 at 8:48 pm }

the most effective weapon I’ve found to catch these pests is called a “Bugzooka”…google it…works great and from a distance…

26 eunice { 04.16.15 at 7:56 pm }

Is there anything that will KILL them ?

27 Kathy Short { 04.16.15 at 7:55 pm }

Can anyone help me with a problem? We have millepieds all over our yard..They come into the house everywhere ….We have our lawn sprayed regularly.., but nothing seems to kill them.Any suggestions?

28 Greywolf { 04.16.15 at 7:37 pm }

I use an old medicine bottle to scrape them off the ceiling. Put the top on and save for the next one.I usually get between 5 to 10 a day.

29 Joan { 04.16.15 at 7:37 pm }

ive been killing them all winter in my home in Cincinnati. They must be a hardy breed. But stink bugs have been around here before 1940’s, my mother spoke of them in KY as a child, she was born 1920.

30 Charles lewis { 04.16.15 at 7:31 pm }

I catch them in a used 2-liter bottle with peroxide and orange peel it kills them in just a few seconds I catch them off the walls and ceilings their natural instinct is to kick backwards I put the bottle right up to them and they kick back right into the bottle no touching and no stink.

31 Debbie kann { 04.16.15 at 5:54 pm }

i can’t smell, so no problem with the stink. A tissue works great for me. I was a hairdresser, too many stinky perms and colors for my olfactory senses.

32 stinkbugGrrrr { 04.16.15 at 5:14 pm }

Rubbing alcohol in a glass or jar with a lid (for continuous service) place the jar just under them, tap them, they fall in, end of story. This also works great on beetles. But it’s a one at a time solution. Terminex guy hasn’t an answer for them either.

33 Ellie Spires { 04.16.15 at 4:49 pm }

Kaolin clay mixed with water and sprayed on fruits and veggies helps keep them off. They don’t like to get it on them.

34 Bobby { 04.16.15 at 4:30 pm }

I’m 53. We had stinkbugs when I was a kid in VA and TN. My parents spoke of them from their childhood, in the 40’s. Not sure what they discovered in PA in the 90’s.

35 hazel { 04.16.15 at 3:58 pm }

These things suck the life out of my houseplants! I get them to crawl on the flyswatter and run them to the toilet! The soapy water works too, I’ve also heard they don’t like certain smells but will get used to them, wish we could send them back wherever they came from cause now it’s garden season…

36 Trace { 04.16.15 at 3:41 pm }

As CM noted, they were around in the 60s. They may not have been elevated to pest status at that time, but we played with them as kids. We set them loose on the school bus and put them in each other’s clothing, among other things. Maybe PA was just behind the times, and we WV kids were more in the know.

37 Outcast { 04.16.15 at 2:44 pm }

Those stinking little bastards literally ran me out of my home state of WV! BUT,before I left,I discovered the only way to kill them w/o stink! Sounds pretty gross,but it works! You have to flick the little dudes right smack dab in the face,HARD!Works everytime,with no stink emission!

38 Beth { 04.16.15 at 2:44 pm }

We has them in Spokane in the 80’s. They are awful. We were invaded by them in the Spring and Summer. Good Lord, they stink!

39 Bugged in Maryland { 04.16.15 at 2:41 pm }

I’ve found that spreading lemon juice around the edge of the doors using a paint brush helps to keep them out. When they do get in, I use a flyswatter to get them to step onto the swatter. Then I take them back outside and fling them away from the house.

40 steven wells { 02.21.15 at 9:18 pm }

i would like to tell u all allow the the preying manis or the wasps or the mice they will eat them. thank you very much steven wells

41 Melissa { 08.12.14 at 6:44 pm }

Stinkbug larva!! That’s what ate the leaves of my morning glories!! I couldn’t figure it out. Thank you for the article.

42 Louise { 08.12.14 at 1:13 pm }

Just saw one this morning, not knowing what it was, and I tried to kill it, but it got away. It was on my porch outside. Never saw one before!

43 Fionna { 06.03.14 at 3:49 pm }

This article will be a valuable tool for my melon crop this year. thank you so much.

44 Dale { 03.11.14 at 1:35 am }

In Texas there have been, forever, little green ones, inside and out…I just stay away from them but, sometimes they will lite on you in flight

45 Bill { 03.03.14 at 2:21 pm }

I heard Lysol spray will kill them instantly and a solution of dawn liquid soap and water works. I always us paper towels and squish them and I have never smelled any odor. They just freak me out. We have them everywhere this year, even after the sub zero weather. They say they are attracted to the color yellow, so don’t plant yellow flowers close to your house.

46 Mi { 02.27.14 at 7:33 pm }

Yes. Box elder bug. And they can be black&red in color. And I’m not so sure that they don’t bite…I sprayed Black flag spray around doors and windows and haven’t seen one since.

47 Cecil { 02.27.14 at 1:34 pm }

They’ve been around for ever in the south. I had one squirt its foul fluid up my nose. I think they do this instinctively. My nose actually bled. Truly horrible experience. These things smell much worse than a skunk. MUCH worse.

48 Joyfulmom { 11.26.13 at 3:58 pm }

Have had many in my house. Most died of natural causes(no odor). Just swept them up and threw them in the trash.

49 Jaime McLeod { 11.18.13 at 12:14 pm }

DNewell, This article is specifically about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. There are other species, but this is the species that has become a huge problem recently, especially in Eastern States.

50 DNewell { 11.18.13 at 2:17 am }

Don’t know about you all, but the bug their showing looks like a box elder beetle…our stink bugs here in Oregon are Black and boy are they potent!!!! Using Pine Sol inside the house seems to keep them down and at bay….

51 CM { 11.14.13 at 5:04 pm }

The date of these pesky things being discovered is completely false I was born in the 60’s and we had them around when I was a small child!

52 Jaime McLeod { 11.14.13 at 8:46 am }

Rob,
I don’t know where you got your information about the federal government importing stinkbugs, but that is completely false. Stinkbugs were first confirmed in Allentown, PA, in 1998, though there had been scattered reports of them before that time. State and federal agencies have considered them to be a harmful invasive species since that first confirmed report.

53 Marian { 11.13.13 at 1:33 pm }

I use one of those tennis racquet shaped bug zappers on stink bugs, which always seem to collect in the screenhouse on my deck. One zap knocks them out, then I just sweep them off the deck

54 Leanne { 11.13.13 at 9:44 am }

I have a terrible problem with squash bugs attacking all manner of melon plants. I found that if I take an entire bulb of garlic, run it through the Vitamix, run it through a strainer, place in a gallon sprayer, full to the correct water level and spray your plants. This doesn’t kill them but it does repel them for several days. Kind of tedious but it keeps your garden organic.

55 R { 11.13.13 at 9:40 am }

I love the little stinkers! If they don’t bother me, I don’t bother them :) As a bonus, if you’re gentle you can even play with them and watch them fly off the tips of your fingers. It’s not so great that they’re invasive, but killing the few in my home would do little to change that, unfortunately. Might as well enjoy them :)

56 Dean { 11.13.13 at 9:07 am }

If you see a stink bug get a disposable cup and put a few drops of dishwashing detergent in it. Fill it half full of water and mix it up. Hold cup under the stink bug and bring it up until it touches the bug. The bug will hop off, attempting to fly, and end up in your cup. For some reason, the soapy water kills them rather quickly. I have used this method when the cooler weather comes and the bugs seek out the sun warmed, west facing wall of my house. I have collected a dozen at a time with this method. Give it a try.

57 Rob { 11.13.13 at 9:06 am }

Your comment that stink bugs are “harmless to humans, structures and fabrics” is completely wrong. They SPOT everything, whether they are peeing or defalcating I do not know but they spot woodwork, lamp shades, clothes and anything else they sit on for long. It will clean off if found early. This miserable import by the Federal government to control a previous stupid import of lady bugs has created a nightmare.

58 cp { 11.13.13 at 9:04 am }

Either I have a bad nose..possible..or I have encountered stinkless bugs!! I smash everyone I see that is out on the screen porch or deck, but inside they get the royal flush! So far I have
not smelled them when I smash them. Last year they I was over-run…this year I have only seen about a dozen or so. Maybe next year there won’t be any! HA!

59 Dragnlaw { 11.13.13 at 8:56 am }

I scoop them up in a tissue and run for the door, then squash. I found that vacuuming them up still leaves a stink around. By accident, I ‘beheaded’ one – and there was no stink! Will I deliberately try beheading again? Doubt I could do it again without a lot of preplanned effort and I just want them out and gone ASAP!

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