08/14/17
Stink bugs sound like the monster in a horror movie. They check all the boxes: they appear suddenly, in huge droves. They hang out all over your home. They’re surprisingly big. They’re surprisingly fast. They’re literally called stink bugs. Despite their reputation, however, stink bugs aren’t dangerous. Learning a little more about them will probably help you get over your fear. Or at least you’ll know how to drive them away. Think of us as the wizened old monster hunter that helps the protagonist (you) in the monster movie! Only what usually happens to the old monster hunter hopefully won’t happen to us...

stink bug on a leaf Why are they here now?

The brown marmorated stink bug came to the midwest quite recently. Experts believe they emigrated from Southeast Asia in the 90’s. Unfortunately, stink bugs really get around. Upon their arrival stateside, they spread rapidly by hitching rides on cars, boxes, and bags. Our habitats haven’t yet adapted to the stink bug, so they were free to travel without worrying too much about predators. Stink bugs may not have always been native to the Midwest, but they’re quite comfortable here now. Stink bug numbers in Minnesota and several other midwestern states skyrocketed between 2015 and 2016, and multiple reproducing populations have been confirmed.  

stink bug indoors Ok, but why are they… here now?

Southeast Asia tends to be a lot more, well, tropical than the midwest. That means while stinkbugs feel just fine during our sweltering summers, they’re none too fond of cold. Stink bugs have had to get pretty good at figuring out when winter is coming. When the temperature begins dropping, they start looking for shelter. You might see a stink bug or two during the summer, but the only time you’ll see a tiny, stinky army is around late summer or fall. That tiny army is trying to get into your house. Stink bugs tend to congregate on south or west-facing sides of buildings, where they can bask in the sun.

stink bug in the shade Where are they coming from?

Stink bugs spend most of the year sheltering in the tree canopy, under rocks, or in other shaded, warm areas. Stink bugs eat vegetation such as leaves and fruits. During hot months, you’ll most likely find them around food sources like crab apple trees. Stink bugs only reproduce outside, but they will hibernate in buildings over the winter. Many homeowners might notice stink bugs in spring, as they begin to wake up and move around. Unfortunately, that probably means the bugs spent the winter living in your home. Don’t worry, though: stink bugs don’t want to stay. They’ll usually leave your home on their own to eat and mate.

stink bug on the ledge How did they get in?

Stink bugs are good at finding nooks and crannies to sneak into. They can squeeze through surprisingly small openings by twisting their bodies, and they’re capable of climbing and flying short distances to reach high or low places. Usually they find cracks in the foundation, or gaps in frames or sills. Small openings near utility lines tend to be large enough for them to use, too. Their flight and climbing abilities even makes it possible for them to enter your home by finding their way into your attic. Once inside, stink bugs burrow deep in walls, floors, or insulation, where they can hibernate safely.

man smelling stink bug What’s that smell?

When a stink bug is frightened, it releases a foul-smelling odor from tiny holes in its abdomen as a defense mechanism. This odor is supposed to dissuade predators from eating them. The components that make up a stink bug’s secretions are also found in cilantro, so the odor may smell similar. It can last for up to an hour after released. Stink bugs produce their smell when killed, so don’t smash them. If you want to remove the bug smell right away, the best thing to do is vacuum up the bugs and throw the bag away. Stink bugs can produce their odor more-or-less continuously, so if you want to get rid of it you have to get rid of them.

Apply caulk to cracks to prevent bed bugs How do I get rid of them?

In small enough numbers, you could use about half a gallon of water and a teaspoon of detergent to kill stink bugs. You could also use your vacuum cleaner. These techniques will solve the immediate problem, but they won’t keep stink bugs away permanently. The only way to get rid of stink bugs permanently is to prevent them from getting into your home. Seal up cracks and gaps, and replace damaged screens, shingles, and siding. You could also limit food sources such as fallen leaves or fruits around your home. Keep your bushes trimmed high and your grass trimmed low.   Stink bugs aren’t dangerous, they don’t permanently infest houses, and they don’t eat your food. We’re willing to bet all of these points won’t mean much to you when you smell them, however. If you need help dealing with these stinky pests, give us a call today. We’ve gotten pretty darn good at identifying and controlling stink bugs, and we know we can solve your problem.


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