So, you have a smelly problem. A stink bug problem. And you need to get rid of stink bugs.
Look no further. In this guide, we’ll cover a bunch of ways you can kill stink bugs and prevent them from coming back.
We’ll cover an assortment of DIY remedies you can do at home that gets rid of stink bugs naturally.
Sound good? Let’s roll.
Last updated: 1/21/21. Updated for accuracy.
What are stink bugs?
Stink bugs (AKA Shield Bugs) are most common in the tan coloration, known as the brown marmorated stink bug.
They’re considered a pest of foreign origin and introduced to the US accidentally in the 1990s.
They’re most often found in the mid-Atlantic region but have been found in 44 US states. These pests get the name “stink” because they release foul-smelling odors when they’re disturbed or killed.
And they have a large oval-shaped body in the shape of a shield. They have 6 legs with a pair of antennae and are about 3/4 of an inch in length.
They’re as wide as they are long, and the adults are larger versions of the nymphs.
You can read more about them here.
Can stink bugs fly?
Yes, adult stink bugs can fly and are good at it. They fold their wings on the top of their body when they land.
Nymphs can’t fly, as they don’t have fully-developed wings yet. They appear when they become an adult. This is the best way to see which are adults and which are still developing.
Nymph stink bugs hatch from eggs and have a dark yellow coloration and fade to white over time. They have bright red eyes during the nymph, but then molt and will become larger each molt cycle.
You can tell using the molted skins that you have a stink bug problem.
Get rid of stink bugs in the winter
Stink bugs are most commonly found during the winter or colder seasons, as that’s when they start to come into the house since they’re seeking shelter from the outdoors.
This is when most people see them as a nuisance and start looking for ways to get rid of stink bugs.
Sadly, if people were to start early and get rid of them from the outdoors, such as the garden, they would ever make their way into the home- at all.
If you already have stink bugs in the home, this guide will teach you how to get rid of them.
If you notice them in the garden or outdoors, you can take precautions before the bugs make their way into your house.
Do stink bugs bite?
Stink bugs don’t bite unless they’re threatened.
By nature, the stink bug is a herbivore, meaning it just eats plant matter with their nature-given mouthparts. They eat fruits, veggies, and plants.
They suck the juice from the fruits and end up damaging the plant, but then again, they’re not carnivores so they don’t really care about flesh.
However, if they feel threatened, they will bite humans.
Stink bug bites are definitely painful and may result in the following symptoms:
For most people, the bug bite will go away on its own.
However, those who have allergies should seek medical attention. Sometimes the stink bug may eat a plant and then bite a human, which can transfer plant matter to the human which may lead to infection or allergic reactions.
For most bites, they’re non-poisonous, but it could be dangerous to small kids or even pets.
So take proper precautions and don’t mess with stink bugs. They can bite. The best way to get rid of stink bugs is to use a variety of natural methods outlined throughout this guide. So take some notes.
What happens when you kill stink bugs?
They’ll release a nasty-smelling odor when crushed, or when disturbed.
You should probably not want to kill a bunch of them when you’re in your house. Use a shop vac and suck them up. Then release them into a garbage bag and dispose of them without crushing them.
The scent is hard to remove and will stain furniture, walls, paint, and other surfaces. If you need to catch it, scoop it up into a container and release it outside. Or drop it into a bucket of soapy water.
Should you kill stink bugs?
Well, if you’re reading this guide, I assume you want to get rid of them. Some people may not want to kill them, some do. It all depends on who you’re looking to get rid of them.
If you have a lot of them, you’ll probably have to kill a few here and there. Unless you don’t mind.
Keep in mind: they’ll stink when you crush them.
What attracts stink bugs?
Stink bugs mainly eat plant matter, as they’re designed for this purpose.
They have mouths designed for sucking the juices from fruits and veggies.
The main plants that stink bugs may feed on are:
Stink bugs can cause damage to plants, as they’ll suck up the nectar for themselves.
They can even transfer parasites, pathogens, and other bacteria to the plant or cross-contamination plants. This is why you need to do something about them ASAP, as they’ll destroy your veggie or fruit garden if you leave them unattended.
Stink bugs naturally are in your home for the colder season and you’ll often see them on sunny parts of your home, such as countertops, and reflective surfaces also.
They also need a source of food. This is why you see them the most during September and October because they know seasons are changing and it’ll be getting cold.
When they look for a place to keep warm (such as your home), they release an aggregation pheromone, which attracts other stink bugs to the same area. They’re basically letting their colony know that they’ve found a suitable shelter with food.
After the pheromone gets released, other stink bugs will be attracted. This is why you need to get rid of them ASAP.
Definitely, do your homework and start placing traps ahead of time. Not waiting until they actually show up.
Stink bugs in Michigan and Ohio
These two states seem to have more stink bug problems compared to other states.
The weather patterns in Ohio and Michigan both contribute to stink bug infestations, as the temperature allows them to forage when it’s warm, and then take shelter during the colder months.
If you’re a resident of either state and you have a stink bug problem, continue reading and use any of the solutions contained here.
Just because you’re in either state doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of stink bugs for good. You’ll have to just up the aggressiveness of your treatment plan.
So, continue reading and see how you can get rid of stink bugs using a variety of home remedies.
Do stink bugs lay eggs in the house?
No. They don’t.
Stink bugs don’t do anything egg-related inside the house. They actually only lay eggs under plant leaves outdoors.
Of course, there are always exceptions. If you have plants indoors, they may find that as a suitable place to lay their eggs.
Female adults lay between 30 to 100 eggs and place them in rows of 12.
The eggs look like tiny barrels and resemble pistachio nuts. Egg color varies depending on the stink bug species.
Stink bugs lay eggs during the spring when temperatures rise. When you see these pests in your house, that’s because they’re looking for shelter during the colder seasons.
What scent repels them?
Strong smelling herbs. Any kind of herb or essential oil with a strong scent seems to work pretty well against stink bugs.
You’ll want to use something that you can withstand yourself unless you won’t be present around the scent much.
For example, you don’t want to use something like peppermint oil around your kitchen, because the smell from the oil will be strong and you’ll be sniffing it all day.
However, if you use the essential oil somewhere else, like your attic, basement, or garage, then it doesn’t matter since you’re not around that area.
So it’s a give and take situation. Use strong-smelling scents to repel stink bugs naturally, but don’t use them where you’ll be spending your time.
How to get rid of stink bugs in the house
Stink bugs in the house can be the nuisance, especially when they’re smushed and start to stink up the place.
There’s no “one best way” to get rid of all of ‘em when they’re in your house. The best and most effective approach would be to start small and escalate as needed.
Start with some basic DIY stink bugs traps and repellents, like essential oils, diatomaceous earth, and borax.
After that, see how they perform and how many pests you can trap, kill, or repel.
From there, determine if your current approach will eliminate all of the stink bugs in time, or if you need to scale up by making more traps or using stronger DIY stink bug killer. Use your creativity and go from there.
One thing you should definitely do is set up some stink bug traps or sticky tape. This is useful because you can measure how many stink bugs are within a certain area.
The more bugs you trap, the more you know that these pests are active within that area of your home. This is useful to determine which areas you should focus on as stink bugs are most active there, and where you can let off on.
You can use stink bugs traps to see how effective your approach is over time. At the start, you may catch a lot of bugs, but over time, you’ll see that number decrease assuming that your approach is working and effective.
So use that as a measuring tool over time on your quest to rid them for good, rather than guessing here and there for effectiveness.
Stink bugs and lemon trees
Stink bugs seem to be attracted to sweet-scented lemon trees.
If you have stink bugs eating up your fruit tree, take the normal approach and start off with natural repellents.
This guide contains ways to make your own essential oils. Start with this kind of approach first.
Create a DIY repellent, then spray the stuff on your lemon tree and stink bugs will naturally be repulsed by the oil.
If the oil doesn’t work, try another.
There are many different recipes you can try and it’s impossible to list every single one here, as some may work for your species of stink bug and some won’t.
You’ll have to try a few different types and see which one drives the pests away.
You can also use sticky tape and stink bug traps.
You can buy pest tape at any hardware store, and you create your own stink bug traps using this tutorial. I cover how to make one later on in this guide, and also how to make your own essential oil for them.
So check ‘em both out.
Why do I have so many?
You may have a ton of stink bugs because the temperatures are quickly dropping and they’re all scavenging for a place to eat and sleep.
When temperatures drop, they’ll look for food and shelter.
They may have already been present throughout your backyard or garden for years, but you never noticed until the temperatures dropped and they found their way into your home.
This is typically when most people actually notice since they’re not in tune with their garden.
You may also have a variety of faults around your house that’s making it easy for them to get in.
You can prevent stink bugs
Provided that you never took notice earlier and sealed up your foundations, replaced broken or damaged screens for your windows or doors, pruned trees that touch your home, or simply clean up and do some maintenance around the house.
They’ve all made their way into your home as soon as the temperatures dipped and this is why you have so many stink bugs at once.
Once they got past your barrier, they’re not taking shelter in the warmth of your home and eating, breeding, and scavenging.
You’ll have to start right away with any combo of approaches on this guide and start to get rid of them.
There’s no “right way” to start. Just pick something and see if it works. If not, use another. That’s the best way to get rid of stink bugs off the bat.
This guide contains all the popular and effective ways to get rid of them and kill them, so start choosing something and get to work before they breed endlessly! Time is of the essence!
Are they harmful to humans?
Stink bugs won’t do much harm to humans other than release pungent odors.
They’re also known to not bite unless they’re threatened, which is the case for pretty much any other species on the planet.
However, that’s to note that stink bugs may carry parasites, flukes, and other various bacteria and can transmit them to humans whether by direct contact or through other means (like your food).
Stink bugs won’t do any direct harm to humans, and they’re best left untouched directly with your bare hands to avoid germs and bites. Handle them using gloves or through other means, like a vacuum, broom, or shop vac.
Can you flush them down the toilet?
You could, but you shouldn’t.
Flushing stink bugs down the toilet may end up with a clogged toilet, which means the stink bug gets the last laugh.
That’s why you should never flush them down, but rather, dispose of them appropriately using the trash can.
If you’re afraid of smelling it in the trash, then throw them into a bag and tie it up. Then dispose of the bag in your outdoor trash can or garbage disposal.
You should avoid disposing of stink bugs in the toilet because disposing of them down the toilet could easily cause clogs, depending on your toilet’s water pressure.
A clump of stink bugs can create a hardened “ball” of them and clog your drainage. They may also clump with toilet paper or other things you flush down the toilet, which may just cause clogging also.
So, short answer: avoid flushing stink bugs down the toilet at all costs.
If you have a backed-up toilet because you’ve been flushing them down, try the following to unclog your toilet:
- Use a manual toilet plumber
- Pour bleach and let it sit for a day
- Use toilet unclogger products (there are many, just do your research online and choose a decent one)
- Hire a professional if all else fails
And I’m sure there are many other resources you can check out, like this. I’m not going to teach you how to unclog your toilet step-by-step because of stink bugs, that’s another topic of discussion altogether.
Let’s stay on topic here.
What animals eat stink bugs?
There are many natural predators that eat stink bugs.
Flying pests such as parasitoid wasps enjoy eating stink bugs, and other arthropods like spiders also will gobble them up.
Other animals that eat stink bugs include birds, bats, assassin bugs, parasitic flies, and even other stink bugs. They’re naturally attacked and eaten by birds, but may be spat out right away as they taste terrible.
They often use their nasty taste in order to escape mouths from their predators.
How to get rid of stink bugs naturally
There are many ways to get rid of stink bugs naturally at home using DIY home remedies.
Here are a few of the most popular and proven-effective strategies you can try.
Remember, try out various techniques and combinations to see what works best for you.
There’s no single method that works for everyone, and this is where you’ll have to put some work in and get creative.
Choose from any of the following techniques and try out a few. Some will work and some won’t. Try out multiple and combine them for the best results.
Using strong-scented essential oils proves to be a natural way to get rid of stink bugs.
You can buy a variety of essential oils at any grocery store or department store that carries food-grade products.
The best essentials oils to use again stink bugs are the ones that smell the strongest.
These oils have been proven to be effective against most types of stink bugs:
- Peppermint oil (more on this later)
- Lavender oil
- Cedar oil
These oils can be used by mixing it with a portion of water and then spraying it where you notice stink bug activity.
Be careful though, because these oils are strong and don’t use it where you’ll be spending your time as you’ll end up smelling it more than the bugs will.
Stink bugs absolutely hate peppermint spray, and you can easily create this at home for cheap.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Essential peppermint oil
- Spray bottle
You can buy both at any department store.
After you obtain both, here’s the recipe:
- Mix 14 drops of peppermint spray for every 16 ounces of water.
- Pour into the spray bottle.
That’s about it.
You can spray this stuff anywhere you want to naturally repel stink bugs and they’ll stay out. Use it like you would use any other commercial pest remover.
Spray it around areas that you see stink bug activity, such as:
- Patio doors
- Indoor plants
- Other various stink bug hangouts
Use it like you would with any pest repellent. The stuff does smell strong though, so don’t use this essential oil spray where you’ll be spending a lot of time.
The scent will be overpowering and you don’t want to use it where you’ll be sniffing it all day.
But regardless, peppermint oil makes an excellent natural stink bug repellent.
These are herbs, spices, and other things that stink bugs are naturally repelled by:
- Soapy water
- Fly tape
- Neem oil
- Garlic spray
- Dryer sheets
DIY stink bug spray
Here’s a stink bug repellent you can easily make at home for cheap.
What you’ll need:
- A bit of dish soap
- A bit of vinegar
- Hot water
- Spray bottle
How to make the solution:
- Mix the dish soap and vinegar in equal proportions.
- Pour the mixture in a spray bottle.
- Dilute with water in a 2:1 combination (2 parts water for 1 part soap/vinegar)
Then spray this stuff directly onto stink bugs to kill or weaken them. You can then vacuum up the mess.
This mixture will also repel stink bugs naturally if you leave it there and don’t wipe the repellent up. The choice is yours.
You can use it as a pest killer or natural stink bug repellent.
Stink bug traps DIY
There are literally dozens upon dozens of DIY stink bug traps you can make at home.
The most popular ones that seem to be proven effective would be ones that either sticks to them or kill them over time.
For these, it may be cheaper to just buy a commercial sticky tape or use some kind of stink bug killer.
However, if you want to make something at home without spending anything, there are a few that you can make with materials you probably already have at home.
The most common solution is to use a bottle-based trap, which will literally draw them using bait and then trapping them as they can’t get out.
Stink bugs can be trapped by using a two-liter bottle:
- Take any 2-liter bottle and cut the top 2” off.
- Invert the bottle and push the top back into the bottle.
- Tape around the edges so the top is secure.
- Get some kind of LED candle and place it inside the bottle.
- Place the DIY trap in a dark area, such as attics, basements, or closets.
The stink bugs are drawn to the light and warmth, so they’ll climb into the bottle, fall through the top, and then can’t get back out. You can get these materials anywhere for cheap. Check dollar stores or department stores.
This trap is effective against stink bugs that are found within your home.
There are other variations of stink bug traps you can make at home. Check out these video tutorials for some of the best traps for stink bugs:
You can vacuum them up to deal with many stink bugs at one time. If you have a ton of them crawling around, use a vacuum to suck them all up and kill them.
The thing to keep in mind is that they’ll stink up your vacuum if you don’t change the bag or empty the canister right away.
Powerful vacuums may also grind them up, which will lead to a pungent odor for days.
Use a shop vac or a secondary vac that you keep outdoors if you plan to vacuum them up.
A wet/dry shop vac will kill stink bugs right away if you add a bit of soapy water and dish soap to the collection tank.
This will help eliminate the odor and make sure they’re killed at the same time.
You can’t really do much in terms of killing stink bugs with a can of Febreeze. It’s probably more effective to smash the bug with the can rather than trying to spray it.
For some reason, a lot of people want to kill stink bugs using Febreeze. Just because they stink and Febreze eliminates odors doesn’t mean that Febreze kills stink bugs.
Let’s get that straight.
The best usage for Febreeze is to spray it where you tink stink bug activity is present. From there, the scent may keep them away from the area. You can also use Febreeze to clean up any stains left from the stink bugs.
Other than that, you won’t be able to do much with Febreze. It doesn’t kill stink bugs. It just kills the stink.
DE can be used as a natural stink bug killer. You can buy this stuff from any hardware store.
Make sure it’s pure and natural DE, as you’ll be sprinkling this stuff all over your house.
The material is a powder that you can sprinkle on the floor. Use this where you think stink bugs are migrating to and fro and use it as a natural barrier.
They’ll be repelled to step over DE, so you can use it to fence them into an area, or keep stink bugs out of an area. Be creative.
Be sure to not use this where you eat, as stink bugs can walk through the diatomaceous earth and track this powder around.
Also, don’t use DE where pets or children may come into contact with it. Always prevent contact when possible.
Although DE isn’t exactly poisonous to humans, you’ll still want to be safe and take precautions.
What keeps stink bugs away?
There are many defined things that stink bugs hate and will naturally be repelled by.
The most common things you can use are strong-smelling essential oils, which are covered by this guide.
Other than that, there’s no real keeping them away. They’ll look for food and shelter, and if you provide either of these, or both, they’ll try their hardest to make your home their home.
You can use a variety of things to keep stink bugs away:
- Diatomaceous earth
- Essential oils
- Bug repellent
- Commercial sprays
Stink bugs in the attic
If you have stink bugs in the attic, this may be a more difficult problem to treat since they’re more out of reach.
However, the best approach to get rid of stink bugs in the attic would be to use a more commercial approach.
You can make your own DIY traps, but it’s probably easier to use something like sticky tape or stink bug traps.
During the summertime, stink bugs may seek shelter in your attic from the blazing sun. This means that you should start applying the pest spray and repellent in your attic to keep them out
You can use a combination stink bug repellent, spray, and poison available from any hardware store.
You can also use your own DIY traps and stink bug killer, but don’t rely on your own solutions.
Stink bugs in the attic are definitely more difficult to deal with, so you don’t want to mess around if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you already have a solution that kills stink bugs 100%, then use it in your attic.
Whether it’s a commercial approach or DIY solution, use that in your attic.
The reason behind using a proven approach to get rid of stink bugs is because you don’t want them to nest in the attic. They’re very hard to get rid of once they’ve established a nest there, so you want to rid them ASAP.
Of course, use natural or organic solutions, including those commercial ones, if possible.
Stink bugs in the garden
They’re often discovered in the garden or yard as the first point of contact. Most people see them crawling around on their fruits, vegetables, and plants before they start coming into the home like a pest.
If you notice you have stink bugs outdoors, you’ll want to start getting rid of them right away. Ignoring the pest will only make it harder later on when they start to come into your home for shelter and food during the colder seasons.
You can start to get rid of stink bugs in your garden using any of the following methods:
- Essential oils
- DIY stink bug spray
- Stink bug repellent
- Stink bug traps
Any of these will naturally repel and drive out these pests before they become a real problem. The key is to start setting up your traps early and driving them out!
How to stop them from coming back
After you’ve gotten rid of most of the population, you’ll want to take measures to prevent stink bugs from making their way back into your home.
Here a few things you can do to stop stink bugs from coming back:
- Caulk up all cracks in your foundation
- Seal all vents with proper filter grates
- Replace damaged screens on your windows or doors
- Seal doors, windows, patio doors with caulk around the edges
- Cut down any trees that may offer a bridge to your home, or at least prune them
- Clean up leaf litter, compose, and other various debris around your home
- Clean up your gutter systems from blockage
- Always clean up your attic and seal any entry points
Leave sticky traps or DIY bug traps around the home in areas you don’t monitor so they can passively check for bugs, then check on them once every so often.
These techniques should get you started on getting rid of them permanently.
Did you get rid of your stink bug problem?
With these various DIY techniques and a bundle of patience and persistence, you’ll be able to rid your home, attic, or yard of stink bugs eventually.
Be patient! Define your path to success and follow it on your journey to rid these pests!
If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
If you’ve dealt with stink bugs before, you can also share your tips and tricks to getting rid of these pests in the comments section to help someone out!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.