All About Stink Bugs

European stink bug

You’ve probably heard of or seen one in your life – a stink bug. And they, exactly as their name sounds, aren’t exactly pleasant. In some comics or TV shows, we’ve seen characters respond to the stink bug’s scent by throwing up. But are they really all that bad? Well, at TermiGuard Services, we know all about them!

What is a Stink Bug?

The stink bug is an invasive bug that is native to Eastern Asia, in such places as China or Japan. They were brought to the United States by accident in 1996.

But how do you identify one? A stink bug is a shield-shaped or long, oval-shaped insect. It rather looks like a beetle. The most common kind of stink bug is the brown, marmorated stink bug, or the BMSB for short. They’re typically a mottled greyish color or – as their official name suggests – brown. The adult bug typically comes in at about 3/4th inches long, while the nymphs (or baby stink bugs) can range from about 1/16th of an inch to about 5/8th of an inch long. Newly hatched nymphs will be a sort of blue-black color, with red abdomens. Older nymphs will be blue-black and red splotched, which will gradually fade out into their adult grey or brown mottled color. The adult stink bugs have wings and can fly, while newly hatched nymphs have none and older nymphs will have wing buds but cannot fly. They have six legs and a long antenna.

Why do they invade homes?

Stink bugs invade your home searching for warmth or food, so they as especially common in the winter months, especially in the north, where the harsher weather will result in more bugs flocking inside.  

That is how you will often know you have a stink bug infestation – you’ll find them sunning themselves in warm areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and anywhere else that’s warm. 

What are the downsides of having them in your home?

Luckily for everyone, stink bugs are not poisonous or toxic, nor do they cause large amounts of damage inside your home. So, you might be wondering – why are they that bad? The stink. The stink is the reason they are so bad. And typically, where you have one bug, you have a hoard.

And because they stink when disturbed or crushed, you can’t step on them, squish them, or swat them with a newspaper. Some people do not find the scent ‘bad’, per se, but extremely unpleasant. Some people compare it to cilantro, a sort of woody, oily scent. Others say it smells like burnt tires. Still, others say it smells acidly sweet, ammonia-like, or even like the scent of a skunk. Because the experiences seem to vary a bit depending on the person, everyone is rather afraid of them – after all, who wants to take that risk? We, for one, do not wish to play the smell-roulette game. And the scent can last up to an hour. If you intentionally or aggressively kill them, the scent can last for much longer.

How do I know if I have an infestation?

If you start finding dead stinkbugs or stink bugs sunning themselves in your front window, then you might have an infestation. It’s important to deal with them quickly so you don’t squash one by accident and so the infestation cannot grow.

You’ll also know if you squash a bug you don’t recognize and then start smelling one of the scents listed above, or an equally unpleasant scent.

I have an infestation but want to take care of it myself! What can I do?

There are not many ways to take care of an infestation yourself (and they often don’t work), so here are some prevention tactics.

Turn off lights to keep them away.

Stink bugs are attracted to lights, so if you turn all your outdoor lights off in the morning (and don’t turn them back on until dusk) and you regularly turn off lights in your house when no one is in the room, it should help.

Reduce available moisture

Stink bugs, like most insects, like water and moisture. Preventative measures, such as fixing leaky pipes, recaulking bathroom walls and tiles, and regularly making sure there is no liquid around bathtubs, toilets, or sinks can go a long way. Regularly cleaning under sinks to avoid any water gathering that might have leaked, cleaning up areas where water has leaked in under windows and doors, and cleaning up spills can also help.

Get rid of all food sources

  • Store away all leftover food prompts after a meal. Store all food in tightly sealed, lidded containers, and store them away from the floor. The most important thing is to make sure to clean counters, stovetops, and floors regularly. Invest in a trashcan with a tight, sealing lid, to prevent orders and food scraps from falling out. 
  • Be sure to put away dog and cat food thirty minutes after they eat if the food is uneaten, to limit food sources for the bugs. 
  • Empty trashcans from rooms regularly, and clean up all food and snack trash in various rooms.
  • Clean spills and crusted food off various areas as soon as you notice it.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or on countertops, as bugs will use it as a place to feast.

Other preventative measures

  • Our other preventative measures are simple things, like sealing up cracks and holes in various areas where bugs can get in
  • If you use firewood, keep it stored twenty feet away from your house and a few feet off the ground
  • Inspect holiday boxes and grocery bags before you bring them into your home

But we really recommend calling us, because once you have an infestation, no number of preventative measures will help you, as at that point, it’s already too late. And, as we said above, there’s really no DIY options to get rid of a stink bug infestation. 

So what do I do if I see one but I can’t squish it?

We recommend either sweeping them into a dustpan and taking them at least thirty feet away from your house or vacuuming.

For the vacuuming, we recommend vacuuming up the bugs and then promptly disposing of the bag that contains the bugs, as the bag will be full of the scent from the disturbed stink bugs and you don’t want it getting into your house. 

But again, those are only basic measures, and won’t do you much good against an infestation. If you give us a call, we can help you handle them! We have pest control plans that can cover your stink bug problem!

Stay safe and insect-free! We look forward to hearing from you.