What’s That Smell? It Could Be Stink Bugs Invading Your Home

Courtesy of Realtor.com

As autumn’s chill firmly takes hold, if you’re really on your game, you’ve been systematically sealing up your home to protect it from the usual pests that find their way indoors: mice, rats, and the requisite creepy-crawlies.

But there might be one you’re not looking for, and let us warn you—it stinks.

Scientists say Asian stink bugs, which have been worrying farmers and annoying homeowners since they arrived here in the late ’90s, are only continuing to spread across the U.S. And with cooler temps here (or at least on the way), these bugs will quite likely make their way indoors—meaning into your home.

Granted, stink bugs don’t bite. They don’t sting, either. At about a half-inch when they’re fully grown, they’re not big, and they’re not usually even that stinky. (Think cilantro.) Still, no one likes a house guest—human or insect—who crawls in uninvited and refuses to leave.

Here’s what you need to know to get—and keep—stink bugs out of your house.

If stink bugs make their way inside your abode, you might not know about them for a long while. Luckily, they won’t damage your belongings. They’re quite considerate guests—but not forever

“The biggest complaint we hear from our customers is that once spring hits, or even a nice 70-degree day in January, these pests will try to make their way outside and end up lost in your living space,” Everitt says. “Smashing them only causes them to release the pheromone that gives them their name, which could cause an unpleasant odor in your home.”

That odor has often been compared with the smell of a strong herb such as cilantro. That might not sound all that bad, but depending on the species and your olfactory senses, a stink bug could smell even more foul—like skunk spray or rotting fruit.

The best way to avoid this smelly scenario: Prevent stink bugs from crawling into your house in the first place. If you live on a property with lots of trees, you have your work cut out. Stink bugs gravitate toward wooded properties, Everitt says. From there, they’ll make their way into your home, most likely through your attic or chimney.

“Make sure that all entry points to the home have been sealed,” Everitt says. “This includes holes in screens, tuck pointing around pipe chases, seals around doors and windows, attic vents, and any other openings you can find on the exterior of your home.”

And while it might sound weird, turn off your porch light.

“Stink bugs are attracted to light, so it’ll be best to keep the outside lights off at night,” Foster insists. “Additionally, pull down the window blinds once it gets dark outside and you feel like turning on the lights.”

Controlling stink bugs becomes more of a challenge once they enter your home.

Take them down one by one: See a stink bug here or there? “Grab individual bugs with a piece of toilet paper, then flush them down the toilet quickly,” Foster says. “This way, even if the bug manages to release its stink, it will get absorbed by the paper.”

Set your own traps: If you feel like you’re basically running an Airbnb for stink bugs, mix water with dish soap and pour the mixture into a couple of jars. “Put those jars in the corners of a room to trap and kill stink bugs during the course of a few days,” Foster advises. (Laughing maniacally and rubbing your hands in glee are optional.)

Deploy your vacuum: Going after stink bugs with a vacuum cleaner is the treatment Everitt recommends. Just make sure to empty the vacuum bag or container outside your home. Otherwise, warns Foster, “the stink will be spread around the house the next time you attempt to clean it.”