Stink bugs are believed to be particularly troublesome both for farmers and house owners in the USA. These insects originated in Asia but appeared in the region quite recently, just some twenty years ago, quickly spreading throughout the country. These insects normally become active in spring when they start sucking sap from leaves and fruits and by doing so damage trees and vegetable crops. When autumn comes, stink bugs search for a shelter to overwinter turning into a major nuisance for house owners. Stink bugs do not bite, nor do they inflict any damage to the surfaces of the building. But they emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed.
Therefore, in the case of the stink bug infestation, you face a double challenge — inside the house and outdoors, in the garden. In this article, we will tell you how to get rid of stink bugs applying scientifically proven solutions. These include stink bug sprays and granules, natural enemies as well as stink bug traps. We will look at how to repel stink bugs and will review the 7 most popular products on comparing their cost-effectiveness.
Identification Of Stink Bugs
Normally, the marmorated stink bug is 5/8 inch long and is speckled with marbled brown and cream colors, with the shape resembling a knight shield. The insect’s eggs are light-colored oval and can be detected in the undersides of the plants’ leaves in groups of several dozens of eggs. To distinguish marmorated stink bugs from others of this species, have a closer look at their antennae which should have two white bands, while the insect’s head should be blunt.
While other species of stink bugs — brown and green ones — overwinter outside the human-inhabited spaces, in particular, in the garden debris and bark, the marmorated stink bugs head for buildings or other protected structures to find a shelter there as soon as it is getting cold. Each female can lay up to almost five hundred eggs during her life producing several generations over the course of the year. This fact undoubtedly makes the infestation larger and the inflicted damage more tangible.
How can you detect that it is stink bugs you are dealing with? First, have a look at fruits in your garden. If there are white or yellow spots on the fruits while its leaves are wilting and blossoms falling before the time comes, this is a signal that urgent pest control measures are needed to be taken. When inspecting the foliage, check each leaf carefully as adult stink bugs are smart enough to hide, especially when being frightened. However, clusters of their eggs are not easily to conceal, therefore always look at the underside of the leaves when monitoring these pests.
How To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs Indoors
Prevention is the key to success. When a stink bug finds an appropriate overwintering site, it emits the smell signaling to others where the shelter is located. After a while, other bugs will follow the pioneering explorer and will flow into the house. This is a good reason for you to take all available steps to keep these insects away because otherwise your house will get highly infested with these pests in winter.
Exclusion. The best way for this is an exclusion. Inspect your house for gaps and crevices along windows, doors, and foundations, including openings around utility pipes and vents. Seal them with caulk or foam sealant, repair window and other screens. Place them inside vents in the attic. Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate at the Pennsylvania State University notes that this approach is good for preventing bugs from entering the building. Once they are inside, monitor the places where they emerge from.
As a rule, these are the cracks under baseboards, along window and door trims. Seal them as well, so that the pests would not be able to get out inside the room. And do not worry about dead stink bugs left inside the sealed openings as their smell will not attract the new ones, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. Though, if detected indoors, the dead insects can be removed with a vacuum.
Turn off exterior lights. Also, keep in mind that turning off exterior lights at night when there is no need in illumination is a sure way to reduce the number of stink bugs attracted into your house. Apart from that, if there are exterior lights near doors or windows, you should better relocate them. Interior lights near the entrances are recommended to be turned off at night.
Vacuum cleaner. Another instrument in your pest control strategy can be found in any household and this is a vacuum cleaner. Use it to suck in stink bugs, but remember that these pests will leave an offensive smell inside the bag so it would be wise to have a separate vacuum for this purpose only. House owners are creative though, and some of them place a nylon material inside the cleaner and secure it outside. The bugs will be collected inside this improvised bag and afterward easily removed from there. Or you can buy a small, lightweight, hand-held 38-inch long device - bug vacuum (catcher), like BugZooka.
Using light traps is scientifically proven to be effective. They attract insects by an installed LED lamp. When bugs approach the device, its fan sucks them inside.
How To Kill Stink Bugs In The Garden
In case the damage is not significant, no pest control measures are required, just cut out spoiled spots on the fruit and that’s will be enough. But for the large infestation, a combination of methods should be implemented to avoid losing a part of the crop to stink bugs. In order to protect your garden, first, clear all plant debris and remove potential sites for bugs’ overwintering, such as wood piles and rocks.
Scientists from the University of California recommend using row covers made of polyester and designed to hamper stink bugs’ devouring fruits. But it is not that simple since this solution excludes not only pests but beneficial insects and pollinators as well. Another drawback is that tall trees are nearly impossible or hard to be covered and if you succeed, the material can be torn by winds.
Handpicking is also a scientifically approved pest control method and is facilitated by stink bugs’ habit to drop when they got frightened. Just place beneath a jar with soapy water catching as much of these nuisance pests as you can. This procedure is also considered to be an easy one as stink bugs have quite a big size compared to other insects and are likely to be noticed on fruits. Just be ready that they will want to play hide-and-seek with you. Commercially available vacuums specifically designed to catch bugs will help you to emerge the winner in this game.
Stink Bug Trap
Add traps to your armory. These devices will help you kill lots of stink bugs, moreover, they can be used to monitor the presence of these pests in the garden. However, this approach involves a drawback in that it may be not effective in case there are not many stink bugs in the garden.
Dr. Mark S. Hoddle, a Biological Control Specialist at the University of California, claims that when used by house owners in pest control strategies, traps with pheromone lures will have a limited effect. In his opinion, this solution is more effective as a method of monitoring of stink bug populations in large commercial crops. Mr. Hoddle believes that pheromones of these insects are not so potent to produce tangible results if no other solutions and technologies are applied. The problem with stink bug pheromones is that this substance is emitted by males, not females, which is why, according to scientific studies, this kind of lure is not as powerful as it is in the case with other pests. Moreover, stink bugs react to pheromone attractants only when mature and there is a low probability that they will be attracted to the lure in autumn.
According to scientific studies, female stink bugs are attracted by male pheromones at a long range distance but as soon as they approach each other, for example, sitting on the same fruit, special vibrational signals emitted by the males are needed to prompt the females to mate. Therefore, this feature has to be taken into account when designing a trap, so that the device combines both pheromone lure working at a large distance and a specific vibration attracting females at a short distance.
Nevertheless, sometimes by saving money better results can be obtained. This is the case that a Virginia Tech team of scientists make urging to use homemade traps designed for indoor application. They claim this solution to be a simple and cheap trap which, according to their findings, works much better than those commercially available. What you need is to pour water in a foil roasting pan and then add a liquid dish soap there. Place the trap in a dark room and put a lamp above and stink bugs will flow there from crevices inside the building they are hiding in to overwinter. You might have heard about this solution before, but what is important here is that this approach has been scientifically proven as not only effective but superior to commercial analogs as well. The drawback is that the device is helpful only indoors and is impractical in managing stink bug population in the crop where damage is much more significant.
Are There Stink Bug Repellents?
Stink bugs are tough guys and they are hard to be repelled. These pests are tolerant to insecticides, not to mention solutions made of natural ingredients which are traditionally considered to have a much weaker impact on insects. And yet, below we offer you some tips on how to make natural stink bug repellents which can be helpful as a supplementary measure to your stink bug control strategy.
- Mix garlic and water to make a garlic spray of high concentration. For this purpose, blend two bulbs with a cup of hot water. Steep the liquid for 12 hours.
- Place ten drops of essential oil in a bottle and mix it with two cups of water. Shake it up and spray on the foliage.
- Mix neem oil with warm water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and treat all sites where stink bugs are likely to congregate.
How To Kill Stink Bugs With Insecticides
A bulk of known commercially available insecticides killing pests are not very effective in a stink bug control. As scientific studies show, these insects can migrate from neighboring areas what increases the risk of reinfestation even after chemicals were applied. Nevertheless, scientists from the State University of New Jersey have offered a list of insecticides which, according to their estimates, work against stink bugs when applied to crops. These are products containing the following active ingredients: acetamiprid, ß-cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, dinotefuran, a-cyhalothrin and fenpropathrin. All of them, except for fenpropathrin, can be applied to ornamental plants. Acetamiprid-based products are recommended for using on vegetable crops.
The National Pesticide Information Center claims that applying insecticides indoors with the aim of managing stink bugs is of little effect, but some insecticides produce desirable results when used outside the building, along the structure’s perimeter. However, this solution works only if used timely. According to Steve Jacobs from the Pennsylvania State University, spraying the insecticides as pyrethrin into cracks in walls and ceilings will kill a significant number of stink bugs.
And yet, using insecticides indoors has some drawbacks. First, they are poisonous and must be handled very carefully. Second, when killed inside the building, dead stink bugs attract carpet beetles which are pests as well. Third, this approach does not prevent other stink bugs from penetrating into the house, which is why using chemicals is not recommended as a long-term pest control strategy.
How To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs: Comparison Chart
|Sealing gaps and openings in the building||safe; cost-effective; additional benefit of repairing your house; a long-term solution; prevents stink bugs from entering the house||hard to detect and seal all gaps and cracks; labor-consuming||10|
|Handpicking||environmentally friendly solution; safe; kills particular bugs for sure; facilitated by stink bugs’ habit to drop when frightened; stink bugs are relatively large and easy to be detected||does not kill large numbers of bugs; labor-consuming; stink bugs have a habit of hiding; a short-term solution||8|
|Trap cropping (placing alternative plants around the crop to “intercept” stink bugs)||environmentally friendly solution; scientifically proven to be effective; a long-term solution||require additional expenditures on the garden; it is necessary to properly select the plant which will surely attract stink bugs; labor-consuming;||9|
|Using row covers||ensures full protection from stink bugs when appropriately fixed; protects from all pests in general||excludes pollinators as well; hard to cover tall trees; the material can be torn by winds||9|
|Using a hand vacuum||safe; scientifically proven to be effective; can be used both indoors and in the garden ||smell from the pests remains inside the bag; needs to be conducted regularly; time-consuming; a short-term solution||10|
|Light traps||scientifically proven to be effective; cheap; easy to use; can be homemade; components can be easily found in households||can be used only indoors; a short-term solution||9|
|Traps with pheromone lures||save; environmentally friendly||better for monitoring than pest control; ineffective when infestation is not large; pheromone is not as powerful as it is for other insects; stink bugs react to pheromone lures only when mature; they do not respond to it in autumn; requires additional stimulus of special vibration; a short-term solution||5|
|Using natural enemies (predators and parasites)||scientifically proven to be effective; environmentally friendly solution; some of them (wasps) are beneficial insects; doesn’t require human participation||stink bugs can migrate from other areas||10|
|Insecticides (acetamiprid, ß-cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, dinotefuran, a-cyhalothrin and fenpropathrin)||recommended for the outdoor use; inside the building can kill large numbers at once; almost all of them can be applied to ornamental||does not prevent insects from entering the house; stink bugs are tolerant to insecticides; can pose a risk to human health; stink bugs often migrate from neighboring areas; dead stink bugs attract carpet beetles; a short-term solution||8|
TOP-7 Stink Bug Sprays, Traps and Killers
Below, we will have a look at a vacuum designed to suck in stink bugs, a light trap and a trap which attracts stink bugs by pheromone lures. We will review different insecticides, including sprays and concentrates based on a wide range of active ingredients recommended by scientists, such as tetramethrin, permethrin, bifenthrin, imidacloprid and others.
BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher Vacuum
This device will help you to kill stink bugs both in the garden and inside the house, as well as remove the dead ones after insecticides’ application. BugZooka is lightweight, 38-inch long and easy to use. What is essential, its construction allows you to keep a distance from the bugs when they are being sucked into the device, so that you can avoid unpleasant feelings.
The innovative and light weight new BugZooka lets you keep your distance and avoid bug squish and splatter
It's unique patent pending design creates 10X the instant suction of heavy battery powered devices
As it follows from comments left by the consumers, the vacuum catches stink bugs even in the spots which are hard to reach. However, they recommend not to release these insects outside as they will return in the house. Nor should you crash the captured stink bugs as they will release chemicals with an awful smell.
The users confirm that the vacuum really sucks in stink bugs as well as big spiders and wasps. “It actually makes sucking up the bugs fun!” one of the customers said. “Our Bugzooka came with a spare bug-catching compartment, and it does help to wash one out when you empty it,” another customer added. He pointed out that after starting using this device, the number of stink bugs in his house had significantly decreased. The only thing which, according to the customers, requires improvement is an emptying process. Some people are unwilling to get too close to insects and find it repulsive.
What do buyers say?
«I got one of these about 2 years ago, as well as I liked it so much that started to really feel guilty not giving a product evaluation. This gadget is so easy, doesn't require batteries, and also it works. It is also long lasting, since it has lasted 2 years currently, and is still in good working condition.
When I initially got it, my other half really did not believe it would work. Yet after a month of using it to record crickets, spiders, vermins, and also even a tiny lizard, she actually likes it, as do I.
Just a note on what to anticipate this item to do: It will certainly not record flies, and also possibly some rapid moving insects. It works well on crickets, spiders, stinkbugs. Generally anything you can get close enough to, using the cocked Bug-Zooka wand and not frighten it off. If the mouth of the stick gets to within an inch of the animal, you've almost certainly captured it when you push the switch».
Price: Check current price
Electronic Bug Killer
The manufacturer claims that the bug zapper kills stink bugs as well. It attracts insects by the installed LED lamp releasing the light wave of 365 Nm in length. When stink bugs approach the device, its fan sucks them inside, regardless of the direction from which the insect has flown. Using this apparatus is a non-toxic, odorless and safe way to get rid of stink bugs. The dead ones are withdrawn from a storage box in the bug zapper. The drawback is that the apparatus will not function well if the wind or air conditioner blow directly to it.
Many customers claim that the device works well as a bug killer. “As far as I can tell, it does manage to catch the three to five bugs that fly around in my bedroom which is a good number at itself when considering they’re in my room,” one of them wrote.
Price: Check current price
Stink Bug Trap RESCUE! SBTR
As we have learned, pheromone lures are not considered by most scientists as an effective solution and should be supplemented with special devices emitting vibration. For this reason, the product like this should not be viewed as a strong measure in your pest control strategy. But it can be helpful as a supplementary solution. Actually, the presence of this stuff in your arsenal will pose no additional risks as it is absolutely environmentally friendly and safe for humans. The trap can be placed both indoors and outside the building or in the garden.
The product is supplied with additional pheromone attractants which will be enough for a month of intensive stink bug management. Once the stink bug flies into the trap, it cannot get out and is eventually dehydrated. The dead ones are easily disposed of. The manufacturer claims that the trap works in a range of thirty feet. The product’s drawback is that it does not kill eggs.
This stink bug trap is not popular with users at all. One of the customers notes that he has managed to catch about seventy stink bugs, having hung the trap on the infested bush. According to him, this is not “a good kill rate for the investment.”
Price: Check current price
Stink Bug Spray TERRO T3500
This spray kills stink bugs on contact in two ways: as a wide spray or when directed straight into crevices where the pests are hiding. The product is a good solution for the exclusion method since it can be applied both inside the outside house, in particular, to treat foundations. Its effect lasts for about a month so you will not have to apply it too often. Terro spray does not stain, nor does it have a foul smell.
Kills stink bugs, Asian lady beetles, boxelder bugs and other insects on contact 2-way precision spray nozzle can be applied as a wide spray or into cracks and crevices
However, this is a powerful insecticide with active ingredients tetramethrin (0.25%), permethrin (0.50%), and piperonyl butoxide (1.0%)which can harm humans. Therefore, having sprayed it indoors, walk away in order not to breathe it in. Also, do not use the stuff around your pests as it is not safe for animals.
The consumers point out to the fact that the solution really has a long residual and when the whole can is used there will be no bugs around for a month or more. “I used it at the first sign of Stink Bugs. Then I sprayed it at all openings, windows, doors, vents etc. .. afterwards I did see some but not so many,” one of the customers say.
Excerpts from buyers’ reviews
«We stay in Michigan and also had a negative situation of stink insects throughout the house for over a year. They would get on the ceilings, dinner table, kitchen area, windows, in the beds, pillows, everywhere. It was revolting. Finally we had actually had enough and I started searching for some kind of killer spray. I made a decision to give this spray a shot after reading combined testimonials. I am extremely delighted and also completely satisfied with the results. I bought this in May of 2016, I got it on a Thursday, and we were going on holiday for the weekend break so I splashed home windows, doors and also ceiling corners the Friday morning prior to we left. When we got home Sunday mid-day, there was a number of have an odor bugs laying around dead. I haven't seen one have an odor bug in your house since I splashed that one time».
Price: Check current price
32 oz 7.9% Bifenthrin Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide
The product containing a high concentration of insecticide — 7.9% of bifenthrin — targets more than 75 pests including stink bugs. It can be used both indoors and outdoors, in particular, can be applied to ornamental plants and in the areas with eatables.
Animals can be allowed in the treated area only when the stuff is dry. Before application, remove all pets, food and kid toys from the room for two and more hours and, after the treatment, air the house for several minutes. The product’s distribution is restricted in New York. To make a spray, mix 1 oz of the concentrate with a gallon of water and apply the solution to an area of up to one thousand square meters. Thus, the bottle of this insecticide will be enough to cover almost 32,000 square feet when diluted.
The insecticide has high rating. “This stuff kills everything that crawls. Even stink bugs are not immune,” one of the customers says. He recommends reapplying the stuff every three months to eliminate stink bugs totally.
Price: Check current price
Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer Aerosol Spray, 18-Ounce
This spray is designed to kill bed bugs but, according to the manufacturer’s description, it also destroys stink bug infestation. What is essential, the stuff which includes active ingredients imidacloprid, 3-phenoxybenzyl, cyclopropanecarboxylate and n-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide, works against pyrethroid-resistant insects and is good for spot treatment. Compared to TERRO spray which we have reviewed before, Ortho is less toxic and safer as it can be applied directly to furniture and beddings. However, its effect lasts for a shorter period of time, just two weeks, whereas the residual of the previous spray lasts for more than a month.
The customers find it attractive that the spray does not leave the smell an hour after application, however, do not recommend using much of the stuff at one time as the smell spreads easily. Also, some of them note that the bottle loses pressure too soon.
Price: Check current price
FenvaStar EcoCap - 8 oz
The concentrate contains an active ingredient esfenvalerate (3.5%) which is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide. The manufacturer claims that the stuff kills marmorated stink bugs along with some other pests. The product can be used both inside and outside the house. Also, it can be applied to the areas where eatables are planted. The key advantage of this solution is that its effect lasts longer than that of most natural insecticides. Apart from that, it is highly resistant to UV-rays from the sun.
To make a spray, one oz of the liquid should be diluted in a gallon of water. Spray all crevices, walls, and baseboards, as well as other places where stink bugs can hide. The solution requires repeated applications which must not be made more often than once a week though. Don’t forget wearing gloves when handling the stuff. One of the customers recommends using the product as a perimeter spray what, according to him, has turned out to be cost-effective.
Price: Check current price
Comparative Chart Of Stink Bug Killers
BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher
Oittm Electronic Mosquito Killer
RESCUE! SBTR Non-Toxic Reusable Stink Bug Trap
|trap with a pheromone lure|
TERRO T3500 Stink Bug Killer Aerosol Spray
|active ingredients: tetramethrin, permethrin, and piperonyl butoxide; spray|
32 oz 7.9% Bifenthrin Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide
|active ingredient: bifenthrin; concentrate|
Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer
|active ingredients: imidacloprid, 3-phenoxybenzyl, cyclopropanecarboxylate, and n-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide; aerosol spray|
FenvaStar EcoCap - 8 oz
|active ingredient: esfenvalerate; concentrate|
How To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs Naturally
Stink bugs have diverse natural enemies depending on what a target is: eggs, nymphs or adults. Among predators feeding on stink bugs, there are birds, rats, spiders and all sorts of insects which help to reduce stink bug populations. Some of their natural enemies are parasites living on or inside their victim while others are predators eating their preys. These are adult green lacewings, jumping spiders, ground beetles, wasps, just to name a few.
Scientists from the Oregon State University have examined the behaviour of the Samurai wasp, also known under the scientific name Trissolcus japonicus, and have found them very helpful. When populations of stink bugs have exploded in Oregon and house owners started complaining about a large number of these insects in the vicinity of their dwellings, the scientists have opted for a biological solution and eventually succeeded. Studies conducted in the laboratory showed that female wasp lays eggs in the eggs of stink bugs which eventually die.
Russell F. Mizell III from the University of Florida refers to scientific studies proving the effectiveness of a so-called trap cropping. Although much depends on the combination of pests and plants in every particular region of the country, the strategy as a whole really works. The idea of trap cropping is to place plants attractive to stink bugs near the crops you what to protect from the infestation. By doing so the farmers “intercept” the pests stopping them at the perimeter of the field. It is also preferable to mix species of plants so that insects will have enough food. As for stink bugs, the recommended plants include crimson clover, millet, buckwheat, sunflower and some other.