It is said that there more than 8.5 million different species of living organisms on earth. That is a lot. With so many inhabitants and so little space on earth, collision and interaction is more or less inevitable.
One of the most common and often problematic interactions is that between us as human beings and bugs. The interaction can be beneficial like in the case of flower pollinators and natural bio-degradation bugs.
However, it is more often than not less than friendly. Take the example of stink bugs. These creepy crawlies have proven to be quite a nuisance not only in our veggie gardens but also in our homes.
So what exactly are stink bugs and how can you get rid of them if you have an infestation?
- What Exactly Are Stink Bugs?
- Where Can You Find Stink Bugs In Your Home?
- 5 Ways To Prevent Stink Bugs
- 10 Ways To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs
- DON’Ts When Getting Rid Of Stink Bugs
- Bottom line
What Exactly Are Stink Bugs?
How can you spot it?
Stink bugs are more formally referred to as brown marmorated stink bugs. They are tiny brown insects with a characteristic shield-shaped body and white stripped antennae. They can fly but their speed and accuracy in flight is compromised by long periods of hibernation.
They get the name stink bug from their ability to produce odorous compounds from a set of special glands in their abdomen. This is a defense mechanism designed to ward of natural predators.
However, it can prove to be quite a nuisance in your home especially if you have a serious infestation and something irritates or scares the bugs.
How does it behave?
Stink bugs are classified as agricultural pests. Their main source of food is succulent fruits and some vegetables of which tomatoes, peaches and green beans are among the most common victims.
Due their feeding habits, vegetable gardens and large farms are their number one choice of infestation site. However, home infestations are not entirely unheard of. This happens mostly during the winter when the adult stink bugs are looking for somewhere to hibernate.
During fall and summer when the weather is warmer, they come out to play and their infestation is a lot more evident.
Where Can You Find Stink Bugs In Your Home?
Before diving into the HOWs of getting rid of stink bugs, it is super important to know where to find them. This is important to help you focus your efforts and resources where they are needed most for the best results.
Below are two key places to start your search for the mother lode of the infestation in your home.
· Potted plants and kitchen gardens
As earlier established, stink bugs are vegetarians. It is therefore no surprise that one of their favorite hiding places is on plants. You will have a lot of luck looking for the bugs or their eggs on leaves and fruits in your kitchen garden or potted plants.
The eggs are usually stuck onto the back of leaves. The adults on the other hand will be found on or in the fruit and at times on the soil.
· On, in or around furniture
Furniture cracks, crevices and other gaps on wood are a hibernation favorite for stink bugs. Therefore if you are looking for the bugs during the winter, this would be a great place to start.
It is important to note that stink bugs don’t lay eggs during the cold season and you are therefore not likely to find any eggs in the furniture. Either way, it is worth a second look.
Other than these two main places, you are also likely to find the stink bugs in cabinet and wardrobe corners as well as lodged within door hinges. It is also possible, but highly unlikely, to find them within bedding and folded laundry.
Just be sure to make a thorough sweep of the house, the farm or even the shed before coming up with a plan of action.
5 Ways To Prevent Stink Bugs
Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, below are five tips on how to prevent stink bug infestation in your home or farm. These will save you a lot of trouble. You can also use the tips to ensure that once you manage to successfully rid your home of the pests, they won’t come back any time soon. Below are the five steps.
1. Seal cracks and crevices on furniture
You can do this using glue or sealing pastes and gels. This leaves the bugs without a place to hide during the winter.
2. Use high quality window screens
Window screening comes in super handy when you want to keep out flying bugs. High quality screens can withstand wind and constant impact and will effectively keep the bugs out.
3. Trim hedges and eliminate weeds
This helps get rid of eggs and potential breeding grounds. As a result, the bugs will have to move to find somewhere else to lay their eggs, leaving your premises bug-free.
4. Perimeter pesticide treatment
This is where you spray special pesticides on vegetation and grass around your home. This limits the bugs’ entry into your home or farm by crawling. It’s like a chemical fence around your property.
5. Store fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge
This might not contribute a lot to preventing stink bug infestation. However, it helps you limit losses in terms of vegetable damage.
10 Ways To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs
It is safe to say that the hardest part of getting rid of stink bugs is finding them. This is made harder by the fact that their brown marmorated coat allows them to blend into many different backgrounds including soil and furniture.
However, the tips on where to find them above should make things a lot easier for you. With that major obstacle out of the way, below are ten of the most effective ways to get rid of stink bugs.
This is one of the easiest and most hustle free methods of getting rid of stink bugs. All you need to do is to get a vacuum cleaner and suck the bugs out of their hiding spots. This works better with hand-held vacuums especially those designed for action on corners and other hidden spots.
However, the disadvantage with this method is the fact that it irritates the bugs and causes to produce the stinky compound which they are so famous for. You won’t smell it as you work but you will notice it as you clean out the dust bag.
2. Soaking infested items with soapy water
Stink bugs are completely incapable of swimming or in any way surviving in water. Drowning them is therefore one of the most effective ways of getting rid of them. This method involves picking the bugs and immediately dropping them in soapy water.
If the infested items are small and flexible enough, you can actually fully soak them in soapy water. This works for bedding, clothes and small pieces of furniture. A bonus is that you won’t have to deal with an odor. The soap acts as a precautionary measure against the bug’s stinky response.
3. The masking tape method
This works best when you are dealing with mild infestation. You will need a small strip of masking tape for each bug. With the sticky surface on the bug’s back, pick it up and drop it either in soapy water, vinegar or a seal polythene bag.
The reason why you use masking tape is the fact that it is both sticky and airtight. The stickiness ensures grip on the bug such that it will not crawl or fly away when you touch it. The air tightness on the other hand helps block the bug’s odor glands such that the panic response is hindered. This makes it a fast method with very little mess.
4. On site pesticide spraying
Stink bugs are essentially pests and there is therefore no better way to get rid of them than using pesticides. However, it is important to understand that the stink bugs exhibit high resistance to some of the common pesticides.
For this reason, on-site pesticide spraying is the best way to handle infestations. This is where you spray the bug when you see it. This way, you can be sure it is dead instead of operating on assumptions.
5. Manual removal of eggs by scrapping
Stink bug eggs are easy to find and get rid of. The adults usually lay the eggs during spring and fall when it is warm. They do it on the back surfaces of leaves so that when the young ones hatch, they have a great source of food in close proximity.
When dealing with the eggs, you will need something like a stick or a piece of hard cardboard. These will help you effectively scrap the eggs off the leaf’s surface and into vinegar or soapy water.
If they are on the surface of weeds or leaves that you can spare, you can just pluck the leaf and throw it in soapy water.
6. Yellow sticky traps
For some reason, stink bugs are strongly attracted to bright yellow colored objects. The yellow sticky traps take advantage of this unexplained response to catch the bugs. The surface of the trap is laced with sticky material.
Therefore, once the bug flies too close, it gets stuck. All you have to do is to dispose of the paper and the trapped bugs. The problem with this method is that it is quite stinky. This is because the bugs, despite being trapped, are still alive and very capable of responding by producing the odorous compound.
7. Natural predators
Wasps have been known to target stink bugs. They are therefore sometimes used as a method of biological control. However, there are two cons with this method. The first is the fact that it only works when controlling the pest infestation outdoors.
For example, you can introduce a nest of wasps on your tomato or green bean farm. Using them indoors is more risky that it is beneficial. The second demerit is the fact that biological methods are not entirely reliable. However, it is undeniable that the presence of wasps affects stink bug populations.
8. Herbal insect repellents
Some herbs are known to ward off stink bugs. These include mint, catnip and lilac oil. They come in handy when trying to draw the bugs out of inaccessible hiding spots. One way to use them is by adding to water and spraying the mixture where they are hiding.
For mint and catnip, the leaves alone are enough to draw them out making it easy for you to employ other eradication methods like insecticide spraying and the masking tape method.
This is an odd remedy to stink bug infestation but it actually works. The chemicals in the hairspray paralyze the bug and make it easier to collect and get rid of it.
10. Call the exterminator
The last and probably most effective way to deal with stink bugs is by investing in the services of an exterminator. They are properly trained on how to spot the bugs and what to do to ensure that they are effectively eradicated.
DON’Ts When Getting Rid Of Stink Bugs
Here are some precautions that you should take:
· DON’T mass spray the bugs inside the house. Their decomposing bodies will leave your house stinking for days.
· DON’T do it yourself if the infestation is very large. A professional is better suited to handle such situations.
· DON’T crush the bug once you catch it. This causes it to release the nasty odor you are trying to avoid.
After all is said and done, there is no denying the fact that stink bugs are not insects you want to be living under the same roof with. The ten tips above are super effective in getting rid of the insects and at the very least significantly reducing their population.
The best part is that most of them are do-it-yourselfers and will cost you nothing more than time and a little sweat. The five prevention tips on the other hand are designed to make your life a lot easier by preventing first time infestation or repeat infestation after eradication.
The tips above should help you get rid of and stay free of stink bugs in your home, garden or even both.