4 Steps To Keep Stinkbugs Out Of Your House For Good

Use these nontoxic methods to keep your home a stinkbug-free zone.

June 1, 2016
stink bugs
Steve Heap/shutterstock

These days, if you haven’t had at least one encounter with a stinkbug, you’re in the minority. Up until a few years ago, most Americans had never heard of these unusual-looking insects that release a rotten-egg scent when crushed. They’re an invasive species from Asia that first appeared in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1996, according to the USDA’s National Invasive Species Information Center. Experts suspect they hitched a ride on packing crates of fruit shipped in from Asia. They’ve now spread to 42 states, according to current information from Stop BMSB (that stands for brown marmorated stinkbug), a USDA-backed organization tracking the invasion. Stinkbugs are a serious threat to certain crops in the Mid-Atlantic States.

What do stinkbugs eat? They feed on most fruits and vegetables, especially apples, cherry tomato and cucumber plants, peaches, and corn, causing blemishes that make the food unmarketable. They’re also a huge headache for homeowners who find their houses infested year after year. Experts don’t recommend using pesticides to tackle stinkbugs, as none of them have been proven to actually work. Luckily, there are a few nontoxic tricks you can try to shield your home from these unsavory pests.


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Step 1: Stop Up Holes

It’s time to start thinking like a stinkbug. The critters generally invade homes in early fall to secure a cozy place to ride out the winter. Ripped window screens and gaps around door frames are basically like welcome mats for these guys. Even the tiniest of holes are a wide-open door for a stinkbug. Experts at Penn State Extension recommend using caulk to seal cracks around doors, windows, siding, utility pipes, and chimneys during the summer months, well before the bugs make their move into your house.

sealing with caulk

Step 2: Make A Trap

If you didn’t manage to stop stinkbugs before the fall, attack them once spring hits, when they begin to crawl out of the woodwork in search of routes to the great outdoors. Researchers at Virginia Tech ran an experiment testing different stinkbug traps to catch those already inside the house. To copy the winning device’s design, you’ll need only a few items: an aluminum turkey roasting pan, water, dish soap, and a desk lamp. At nighttime, place the pan under the lamp, and fill it with water. Then add a few drops of dish soap and swish it around. Like other insects, stinkbugs are attracted to bright lights at night. Once they land in the soapy water, they can’t get back out.


Stink bug trap - Virginia Tech from VirginiaTech on Vimeo.

Step 3: Vacuum Them Up

But what about those times you venture up to the attic and discover a skin-crawling mass of stink bugs at the window? Go get the vacuum cleaner. While sucking up stinkbugs might make your vacuum smell for a couple of weeks, it’s the most efficient way to deal with the hoard without odor bombing your whole house. Some people who battle with stinkbugs frequently even have a handheld vac specifically dedicated to the task.

handheld vacuum
Thorsten Rust/shutterstock

Related: How Safe + Natural Are Green Cleaning Products?

Step 4: Squash The Eggs

While taking out stinkbugs one egg at a time sounds like a monolithic task, it can help reduce populations come August when the eggs hatch.

Related: Stopping Stink Bugs

stinkbug larvae
Yuangeng Zhang/shutterstock


Females lay clusters of eggs (which look like grains of white or yellow rice) on the undersides of leaves between May and August. If you come across these egg pods on your plants, simply crush them (they won’t smell) or spray with an organic insecticidal soap to dissolve the casings.