Seeking refuge in the warm indoors when it’s cold outside is a natural reflex for most of us. It’s also a cold weather response for many non-humans as well, and your home is the perfect shelter.
Depending on where you live, you may notice some uninvited squatters sneaking into your house. They’re sly. They hang around outside in your yard for a while, but when the temperatures start to drop around September or October, they start creeping in on you.
Who are they? Stink bugs. Those odd, quiet, shield-shaped insects like to throw their funky scent around because that’s their only power. They don’t bite. They don’t scavenge your cupboards. And they don’t harm your house. But they can live up to their name when squashed or threatened.
That’s why you don’t want stink bugs in your house. Their smell has been described as “cilantro”, “dirty socks”, or the elusive “unscented”. They also like to congregate in groups, so don’t be fooled if you see one or two. There’s probably a stink bug rave going on in your chimney.
If you’re able, the best way to fight an invasion is through prevention. To keep the bugs from coming into your home, seal up any openings in your windows, doors, or weather stripping. Grab your caulking gun and hit those cracks – big and small – with a fierceness. Replace damaged screens, siding, or other potential entries for them.
You have a couple of options if you spot a few and want to get rid of them. One way is to fill a bucket with soapy water and drop those suckers in it. You can fill up a spray bottle with soap water and spray them, too. Dish detergent will do!
Some homeowners like to vacuum them up, but if left to rot, the vacuum will begin to stink. If you go that route, be sure to empty the vacuum bag or canister into an outdoor receptacle right away.
Stink bugs can also be swept up into a dustpan and released back into the great outdoors, or sentenced to a whirlpool death in your toilet bowl.
Crushing them will only lead to a discovery of their true scent, but if that is what you wish, go for it. Many of them will make it to springtime after playing their mating games. The tiny holes in their abdomens release their protective secretions that also act as attraction pheromones.
If you see one, check the area where you found it. Dark, warm places tend to attract them, so you may come across a stink bug party of 11 in the midst of wiping one or two out. Watch this video below for some strategies on handling the buggers!
Stink bugs are native to Asia, but an accidental trip brought them to the U.S., where they’re found in most states and a few Canadian provinces. Chances are you may see some around your dwelling.
Unless you want to try eating them – people do! – keeping them from entering your space is your best bet. Soaping, flushing, or vacuuming will get rid of them, but whatever you do, don’t smoosh them!
Do you have a stink bug problem where you live? How do you handle getting rid of them?