Stink bugs are active throughout all of the United States. Generally found in the garden, stink bugs will find their way into homes and structures when fall evenings start to turn cold. They acquired their name from a natural defense they have which is to release a smell that “stinks”. This smell enables them to avoid getting eaten by several species of birds and lizards.
WHAT DOES A STINK BUG SMELL LIKE?
If you’ve handled a stink bug, you probably know the smell. It’s a pungent odor, strong and similar to cilantro, and used as a defense mechanism to stave off predators like birds and lizards. Stinkbugs have dorsal glands that can release this odor at will. On places where they roost and nest, the odor will manifest on surfaces, cracks and crevices. This odor will barely be detectable at first but to stinkbugs, it’s important and one of the main reasons they’ll return year after year and use the same structure over and over as a hibernation den.
If your home starts to harbor hibernating stink bugs, its best you get rid of them before the infestation gets out of control. This article will help detail some basic biology about stinkbugs and then offer practical solutions you can apply to stop infestations before they get too bad.
STINK BUG BIOLOGY
Stink bugs are in the family of insects known as pentatomidae. There are hundreds of subspecies located around the world and the United States has several which are active in and around the home. Generally thought of as an agricultural pest, stink bugs will readily take up residence around any garden or landscape rich with plants and flowers. Stink bugs have a “shield” shaped body which is very wide and measure about 1/2 inch long. The most common species range in color from green to brown. One species is a bright red and black. Here is a short video showing a brown marmorated stinkbug.
Not only can a stink bug emit an odor which “stinks” but many people have an allergic reaction to this secretion so it is best to leave them alone.
Stink bugs hibernate during cold winter months and will emerge in the spring as temperatures rise. Adults mate in the spring and females will lay eggs on plants. These eggs will be laid in groups and are not plant specific. Young will go through 5 stages to reach adulthood and this will occur in about three months. During this time they will feed on just about anything available. Plant juices like honeydew seem to be their choice of food but most will readily feed on tomatoes, beans, any type of fruit, corn, peppers or cabbage.
CAN A STINK BUG DO DAMAGE?
Stink bugs have never been considered to be a destructive pest. However, if left unchecked, stinkbugs can cause significant damage to any garden. Most damage occurs to juicy vegetables and fruit once the protective skin is broken. Since young take about three months to mature, they’re generally old enough to mate in the beginning of summer and so another batch will emerge to reach adulthood before the end of the year.
Stink bugs don’t like the heat and will migrate north out of the southern summers. But the longer growing season of the south enables them to reproduce better and longer during the year so the south harbors the highest populations.
Stink bugs are hardy and will live a few years so adults which find themselves too far north will hibernate on buildings. This enables them to survive the harshest of winter and come spring, emerge to go about and forage for another summer. Southern populations may remain active all year if a mild winter keeps temperatures moderate. But even in the south, if it gets too cold they’ll migrate deep into any home and eventually end up inside living areas.
WHAT DO STINK BUGS EAT?
Stink bugs may prey upon other insects and several species seem to be targets as long as they remain abundant. However, they will readily resort to plants, fruits and vegetables if no other food is around. Don’t be mislead into thinking any stink bug is a good bug. This type of thought has gotten many people in trouble. A few around the garden won’t do a lot of harm. However, if you have them eating the very produce you are trying to grow, the damage they do will quickly ruin your effort.
Stink bugs are not efficient when they eat. They will generally move from fruit to fruit ruining several per day. They’re also attracted to light and will find their way into homes during the long summer nights when porch and deck lights are on and doors are being opened and closed. This summertime pattern will continue through the season until cooler nights and shorter days force the adults to seek harborage. Structures like homes are warm and provide adequate shelter from rain, cold and other elements so its only natural and to be expected for them to forage inside.
BEST STINK BUG SPRAY FOR THE GARDEN
If you’re an organic gardener, use MULTI PURPOSE INSECT KILLER. It’s approved for organic gardening and super effective on stinkbugs. This product has just one day to harvest so it can be used safely right up to the day you plan on picking your crop. But it won’t last long so expect to be spraying 1-2 twice a week for 1-2 weeks till they’re gone for the fall migration.
Mix 6.4 oz per gallon and apply it with any decent SPRAYER.
You’ll need a good PUMP SPRAYER to treat.
BEST STINK BUG SPRAY FOR THE HOMES EXTERIOR SIDING!
If you’ve had an ongoing problem for a few years and stink bugs are currently finding their way into your home, you’ll need to do some exterior treatments to stop the invasion.
The first phase of this program will be to get the exterior of the home treated in the fall, just before or as they start to congregate seeking relief from the upcoming winter. If you’ve had them invade in the past then you know as the nights cool, stink bugs will be found landing on your home and trying to find cracks and crevices in which to sleep during the night.
The best product for home siding is MAXXTHOR EC. Maxxthor will both kill them on contact but will also repel them.
The following “short video” summarizes how to use it on the homes siding.
As you can see in the video, the GREEN TOPPED HOSE END SPRAYER is the best way to apply it since you can reach as high as you garden hose can spray. Of course a regular pump sprayer will work too just be sure to spray from the gutters all the way down to the foundation.
Mix it .5 oz per gallon of water and expect to get up to 800 sq/ft of coverage per mixed gallon of spray. For the average home, plan on applying around 5 gallons every 1-2 weeks until the fall migration ends.
To get the most of your treatment, add SPREAD-X BOOST to your tank mix along with the Maxxthor. Boost is an adjuvant, also known as a wetter spreader or spreader sticker. It basically makes water and the mixture more “slippery” so you get better coverage. Treatments will spread 2-3 times wider and penetrate deeper. This is super important when spraying your homes siding for pests like Stink Bugs.
Boost will also help their “shield” like body armor leading to a fast kill.
The following short video summarizes why Boost can help deliver your treatment better.
Add no more than the rate you’re applying the Maxxthor so in this case, if you’re adding 2.5 oz of Maxxthor to the hose end sprayer, add 2.5 oz of Boost too before adding water. If you’re adding Maxxthor to a pump sprayer at the rate of 1 oz per gallon, use 1 oz of Boost.
Maxxthor is easy to use with the right sprayer. As shown in the video above, the 20 GALLON HOSE END is well suited for this task.
BEST STINK BUG SPRAY FOR INSIDE THE HOME
Once your home has had Stink bugs over wintering on your home, the scent will linger and attract more and more every year. And since they naturally target windows and doors, many will end up inside. We have two types of aerosols for use inside; one for cracks and crevices and one for walls and ceilings.
FIRST SPRAY ALL STINK BUGS POINT OF ENTRY
The first spray needed is FS-MP AEROSOL. It comes with a crack and crevice straw which allows you to apply it deep into window frames, door frames, base moldings, around light fixtures and any other route of entry to living spaces. Be sure to “open” any window where they’re seen so you can get the treatment into all the cracks and crevices they will be using.
The following short video summarizes why FS MP is the best option for cracks and crevices.
So to start, treat rooms where you have activity and don’t be afraid to retreat as often as they reappear. As the video above explains, if you use FS MP properly, you should be able to both kill all the ones trying to enter AND repel any new ones that might try to get inside.
And if they come back 2-3 times? It means you’re either not using enough spray outside OR you’re missing something inside. Watch this next video which details how to to thoroughly treat a window. Since windows are prime entry points, its important to get them treated right.
As you can see, it can take 5-10 minutes to treat a single window properly. But if you take the time and get every crack, crevice and gap, you can eradicate them for good.
So be thorough and if they come back in a few days, treat again.
BEST STINK BUG SPRAY FOR CEILINGS AND WALLS
If you failed to spray before they invaded, you’re probably seeing them on ceilings and walls. These areas should NOT be sprayed with FS MP since that formulation uses an oil base for deep penetration and will stain open wall areas.
For ceilings and walls, MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER is ideal.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) shows how to light spray walls and ceiling so any stink bugs trying to use them will die.
Its low odor and water based which means its fine for sensitive areas. Mist it onto most any surface you see them using to land on and remember, a little bit goes a long way so no need to over apply.
Use about 5-10 seconds of lightly misting it over a 10 foot tall by 10 foot wide wall or ceiling area (be sure to wear some EYE GOGGLES when spraying above your head). This will yield a quick kill AND keep them from using the treated surfaces.
HOW TO TREAT WALL VOIDS OR ATTICS FOR STINK BUGS
Though the outside treatments with Maxxthor EC and the inside treatments with FS MP or Multipurpose will certainly help to keep them off the home and out of living areas, this may not be enough to keep them away for good. Once homes get infested, they’ll be living and breeding deep inside attics, crawl spaces and wall voids. Stink bugs will naturally forage into these spaces and many are accessible from high points on the home.
And since one of the most common routes of entry is through Air Vents and Light Fixtures, treating the attic AND these ports of entry with the Dust can keep them out.
The following short video shows how to treat Air Vents and under Light Switch Covers as well as Electric Outlets.
If you have reason to believe there are stink bugs living in your attic or crawl space, get these areas properly protected with DEMISE DUST. This product is long lasting and ideal for large, wide open areas. It goes on dry and can be spread out easily for quick coverage and protection. Use 6 OZ per 1000 sq/ft of area.
Demise is ideal for wall voids and attics when liquids can’t be used due to the absorbing nature of wood and insulation. Demize will lay on top of everything in these areas so the pests can’t move about without succumbing to the treatment. For large open areas, apply the dust with a DUSTIN MIZER. This device can blow the dust over 20 feet out ensuring good coverage to remote areas where stink bugs will readily crawl and penetrate.
The following video shows how to use the Dustin Mizer for attic treatments.
Demize will last 6-12 months per treatment too so you don’t have to use it nearly as often as the liquid or aerosol spray. And it works on many other pests so you’ll be protecting the home from a wide range of insects when applied. The other feature of Demize is that it works in both dry and wet environments. This is important if the stink bugs are entering through dark and moist crawl spaces. Applications will last long even when wet which is needed to break the hibernating cycle of this pest.
For dusting behind light switch plate covers, electric switch covers and other spaces where you suspect stink bugs are entering use a HAND DUSTER. Be sure to get around light fixtures and the covers for forced hot or cold air as shown in the video above.
STINK BUG LIGHT TRAP
Another tool for use inside the home is our STINKBUG LIGHT TRAP. This trap uses a special design that “funnels” curious stinkbugs down to a holding tank which is designed to hold water and a little bit of liquid dish detergent. Once stink bugs enter and land in the water, they can’t escape. Stinkbugs, like Asian Ladybugs, are highly attracted to the UV light bulb in this trap and will fly around the top where the light emits. We also include a stinkbug pheromone lure to get them to enter.
The following “short video” summarizes how this trap works.
As you can see in the video, this trap works by getting bugs to fall inside as they attempt to land “in the light”. Basically they’ll be landing in the trap and falling inside to their watery grave.
Set up one trap per room where you have ongoing activity. Its important to understand the trap works best at night, when other lights are turned off, so don’t expect it to attract or capture stink bugs during the middle of day when lights are on.
In fact you may as well turn it off if the home is bright. But come the night it will work like a vacuum capturing any stink bug or ladybug foraging about.
The other great thing about Stink Bug Traps is that they’ll last a long time; we have replacement bulbs and other components so you can keep it working for many years. Unfortunately they won’t end the problem but rather keep it under control. To see how good our trap works, view the video below. In the video, TV Station WPXI puts several traps to the test and our trap outperformed all others! Click here to see the entire WPXI STORY
We also have a more “discreet” STINK BUG GLUE TRAP. Set these on window sills, countertops and on top of wall units where stink bugs like to rest. They feature a sticky pad and one pheromone lure wafer that will lure stink bugs to the trap for 2-3 months.
STINK BUG REPELLENT
Lastly, if you have an ongoing stinkbug problem anywhere outside the home and are looking to simply chase them away, PEST AWAY SPRAY can help.
Pest Away is made with all natural organic essential oils and gets mixed with water. It won’t harm any wildlife, insects, birds, pets, etc. but due to it being so concentrated, it makes insects “wary” of treated areas. They won’t want to stay where they sense or smell it making it a great way to naturally deter unwanted pesky insects.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) gives the quick summary of how Pest Away works.
It’s concentrated, completely organic and when mixed with water, treated plants will make them all “bad” tasting as well as “alarming”.
Our 8 oz jar mixes 2 oz per gallon of water and will treat up to 500 sq/ft of plants when treating.
Stink bugs can be a fall and winter pest if left to live in the garden or on the side of your home.
If you have them active outside during the summer and want to keep them off your fruits and vegetables, use some of our organic insect killer.
But once fall arrives, they’ll be targeting your home. And if you had them last year, be prepared for them to be a lot worse this season.
To stop the invasions, spray Maxxthor EC on the homes exterior. Inside the home, go with FS MP Aerosol and Multipurpose to keep them under control. In some cases, dusting with Demize will be needed for wall voids, crawl spaces or attics. Stink bugs are persistent and smelly so keeping them out of your house will require patience!
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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