Cleaning

Stink Bugs Are the Worst. Here’s How To Get Rid of Them.

Whatever you do, don’t squish them.

by:
September 23, 2021
Photo by Linda Xiao

As I write this explainer on how to get rid of stink bugs, I shudder at all the times I came across them in my home last fall and winter—which was too many. My husband had warned me about them, but as someone who’d dealt with rats while living in New York City, how much harm could a lil stink bug do? Well.


What Are Stink Bugs?

Stink bugs are the worst. Technically, they’re called the brown marmorated stink bug, but in my house, they’re called get outta here NOW. They’re big (for a bug), they’re invasive to the US, they’re everywhere, and it’s not recommended to actually squish and kill them—unless you want to understand why they’re called stink bugs.

Stink bugs hibernate when it starts to get cold (like, now) so they invite themselves into your warm home and stay there until spring. The bugs don’t eat, bite, or reproduce once they’re in your home (whew!), so they’re technically harmless and there’s no need to seek them out to get rid of them. They are, however, still gross and scary.

The bugs tend to hang out somewhere high and warm like the top of a window, by a skylight, in between curtains, by recessed lighting, and even your bathroom. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t find one on the floor or along the wall. And that doesn’t mean they get a free vacation either, so go get ‘em.


How to get rid of stink bugs

1. Block Their Entry

The first—and most important—rule to get rid of stink bugs is to prevent them from getting into your home in the first place. Not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s the biggest piece of advice I can share. Seal up any cracks in your foundation, walls, door jams, window trims, chimney—literally, all the cracks you can think of. If there’s a bit of space, they’ll find it and if one gets in, more will surely follow.

2. Spray Diatomaceous Earth

If you can’t seal up the cracks, at least dust them with food grade diatomaceous earth. It’s important to get the food-grade safe version if you have dogs or kids around. The powder coats the bug’s exoskeleton and slowly dries it out over a few days (sorry, not sorry), and it works on many insects like ants and roaches. I also spray around the exterior windows and foundation of my home every few months.

If I see a stink bug inside, I spray it with diatomaceous earth and wait a day or two for it to die naturally. Yes, it means it’s still around but at least I don’t have to get near it.

4. Flush ‘Em Down The Toilet

Or, for a more instantaneous result, I’ll use toilet paper to grab it gently and flush it. This is obviously much more involved and depending on the level of infestation, can increase your water bill, but it’s also very effective. And oddly satisfying.

If the bug is out of reach like in the curtains, use a broom, vacuum, or anything with a long handle to disturb the area and get the bug moving, and then go in for the kill—figuratively.

4. Whatever You Do, Don’t Squish Them

If you do see a stink bug inside your home, don’t kill it. That will make them emit a foul smell that’s a mix between a skunk and something that’s burning—for lack of a better word, it just stinks.


What are your tips to get rid of stink bugs? Please share your wisdom so that we can get rid of them forever.

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Jada Wong

Written by: Jada Wong

Jada is the market editor at Food52 with a decade of experience writing and editing for online publications such as Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, and Insider.

12 Comments

Robyn October 4, 2021
Would have been helpful to see a photo or picture of one. Some people may not have a clue what they look like.
 
emily October 4, 2021
It's easy enough to google since you've been given the full name of the insect. Personally I have these bugs infesting my apartment and I hate searching online for remedies because then I'm met with giant, high res pictures of them. Same reason I hate when bug spray/diatomaceous earth manufacturers put pictures of roaches and spiders on the bottle so every time I open my cabinet it looks like a real roach out of the corner of my eye - WHY?!
 
Robyn October 4, 2021
You’re right…I can google it. But this is an article about a particular insect and it would have been nice for a photo to accompany the piece. Similar to when I’m cooking or baking…I don’t want to google a picture of the finished recipe I want a picture to show me what it will look like along with the recipe!
 
Author Comment
Jada W. October 5, 2021
You're both right, Robyn and Emily! I would normally include a photo of the subject I'm writing about, but I just couldn't do it this time because most of the photos are, like Emily mentions, giant, up-close photos that show every single detail of the stink bug. Even writing that out made me shiver...
 
Asaracoglu September 25, 2021
I have lived in the same house and have never had a problem before this year. The day before yesterday i caught and threw out more than 30 of them, i am looking at 3 on my living room screen right now. I am about to lose my mind.
 
aunty P. September 25, 2021
Don't throw them out.....they only come back in. Flush them.
Spraying lemongrass around the windows helps just a little. Trader Joe's has a room spritzer.
 
Author Comment
Jada W. October 5, 2021
What a nightmare! I agree with Aunty P. that you shouldn't throw them out, they'll only come back in later. If you're getting a ton of them, it might not be cost-effective to keep flushing them. In that case, you can put all your catches into a bowl with soap and water, and then flush them.
 
aunty P. October 5, 2021
Yes, you could put them into a jar or bottle, then cap it and pitch it. Hopefully with soap and water so they aren't gonna get loose again.
 
Kalision September 25, 2021
Or, buy some Bell and Howell pest repelled s. For some reason, they work like a charm.
 
aunty P. October 5, 2021
Not in my experience.
 
aunty P. September 24, 2021
Wow, thank you! Everyone thinks I'm crazy when I tell them stink bugs are the bane of my existence. I live in an old house that is not well sealed, so obviously have points of entry, but two years ago was so besieged with the critters it was unbelievable, and eventually learned my firewood was infested. I learned to do the catch and flush but some days would catch more than 20 of the beasts. I leave a small light on in my bedroom at night and was subjected to dive bombs during the night.
I am getting my firewood from the same source, my dear son-in-law, for free, but now I know to use the diatomaceous earth to subjugate their little rears and get some sleep.
 
Author Comment
Jada W. September 24, 2021
Sounds like a nightmare, but glad you have a plan now! Those stinkers are not playing around...