How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs and Keep Them Away


A few years ago no one heard about the marmorated stink bug and paid no attention to its existence. There are hoards of similar insects in the gardens including stink bugs: they can be distinguished from other pests by their strong unpleasant smell, which is very difficult to get rid of. 

The marmorated stink bug is rapidly spreading across all territories, across countries and continents. A stink bug is omnivorous and unpretentious in terms of living environments, that’s why it quickly adapts to new locations and reproduces rapidly.

Best Stink Bug Killer
Harris Stink Bug Killer,...
Odorless and comes with a sprayer.
Best Stink Bug Killer
Harris Stink Bug Killer,...
Odorless and comes with a sprayer.

Who can face the invasion of stink bugs?

First and foremost, the question of how to get rid of stink bugs concerns owners of gardens, kitchen gardens, farmlands and fields. But urban dwellers are also not protected from the stink bug infestation. Stink bugs can fly into the apartment, crawl into hard-to-reach places and cause discomfort with their unpleasant smell and repellent appearance. 

So what is a marmorated stink bug, and what harm can it cause?

The issue of the garden pests

The problem of pests is not unfamiliar to those people who are involved in gardening or grow fruits and vegetables in their gardens. There are hoards of these insects including stink bugs, they attack certain plants and herbs. To control and fight pests insecticides are produced. By studying each species of pests, scientists have developed a number of chemicals that effectively fight them. If you apply specific preparations strictly according to the instructions and within the indicated time, you can achieve good results in fighting pests and save the harvest.

But now there are pests that scientists had not yet studied and hadn’t chosen the means to fight them. These are marmorated stink bugs. They became known in 1996, when they began to spread actively from Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Vietnam to the USA. By 2014, stink bug infestation captured 34 states of America and southern provinces of Canada.

There are no barriers for stink bugs: they fly to new places by themselves, they arrive on other continents inside the infected vegetables and fruits. In 2007, marmorated stink bugs appeared in Switzerland, in 2010 they were found in New Zealand and England. In 2014, the insects were seen in Georgia and in Russia. And since 2015, a mass reproduction outbreak and migration of stink bugs in the humid subtropics of Russia have been registered.

What do stink bugs eat on and how do they live?

To fight against such a dangerous pest, we must learn to recognize it. Often in the gardens, there are insects that look much like the marmorated stink bug:

  • Soldier shield bug: this insect has a body of a pronounced pentagonal shape, the shield is colored in the form of clear outlines brown and light spots. It feeds on the fallen decaying leaves and is not harmful.
  • Green shield bug (does harm to raspberries, gooseberries, also can live on alder, birch, larch, elm). In the majority of cases, it is an insect of bright green color with brown wings.
  • Corn bug: this is a brown-colored pest, its body is oval in shape. The insect harms vegetables and grain varieties.
  • The birch shield bug lives in deciduous forests, feeds on young greens.
  • The Italian striped bug has a coloring of red and black stripes, stands out for its appearance among all the others. It is not harmful, feeds on the fallen leaves.
  • Elm stink bug is a resident of big cities, lives on elm trees, can fly through windows into apartments.

All varieties of shield bugs have a strong unpleasant smell, which they use to scare off enemies. However, any kind of a shield bug do not do as much harm as a marmorated stink bug.

What does a stink bug look like?

A stink bug belongs to the family of shield bugs, therefore, its body is covered with a very strong chitinous shield. The body of a stink bug is pear-shaped, about 15-17 mm long. From the top the insect is of brown color with a pattern similar to marble. Hence the name — a marmorated stink bug. The bottom of the insect is light in color, and the distinctive feature of a stink bug is the characteristic white rings on the antennae and legs.

What do stink bugs eat?

The marmorated stink bug is omnivorous. A stink bug eats green sprouts of any garden crop, on fruits of trees, vegetables, grapes. The pest punctures the external tissue of the plant or fruit with its proboscis, injects a special enzyme and sucks out the juice suitable for digestion. The list of favorite food that stink bug eats includes citrus, feijoa, grapes, apples, pears, hazelnuts, paprika, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, corn. Moreover, a stink bug uses both sprouts and fruits. 

Where do stink bugs live and hibernate?

Marmorated stink bugs are unpretentious in the choice of habitat, too. They can settle in the house, in animal burrows, in birds’ nests, at farms, in barns, in cellars. Stink bugs feel great both in the heat and in the damp. They do not need any special conditions, they adapt to any environment, to any changes of the weather.

Stink bugs prefer to hibernate in human dwellings, in buildings, in shelters. They can find a way into the house through cracks or open windows. Often they hide in folds of hanging drying clothes, and then, the owners bring insects into the house together with clothing. If stink bugs can not get into the room, they make their way under the siding, into the gaps of the cladding and wait out the frost. There were cases when several thousand of insects penetrated the house. Feeling the warmth, stink bugs persistently climb into the rooms, gather around lamps, get under the sofas and beds, and find secluded places.

How do stink bugs reproduce their kind?

Reproduction of marmorated stink bugs occurs in the spring, starting from the middle of April. The female lays 20-30 eggs, measuring 1.3-1.6 mm, attaching them to the inner side of the leaf. This does not allow to detect the eggs and destroy them in time. The development takes 35-45 days. Over the summer the stink bug female manages to breed 3-4 generations. Larvae, like adults, are omnivorous and feed on the same plants and fruits.

Do stink bugs have enemies?

Most regrettably, there is no natural stink bug killer. Birds do not peck this insect because of the disgusting stink bug smell, which reminiscent of a mixture of the skunk smell and cilantro. Of all the birds, only ducks can stand a stink bug smell and peck up this bug. Chickens that peck up stink bugs become uneatable because their meat becomes smelly. 

A stink bug killer is a locust. Wasps can kill these pests as well. But there is no sense in such assistants: locusts do even more harm than stink bugs, while wasps parasitize on the stink bugs’ eggs, preventing their intensive reproduction. But the following problem after stopping a stink bug infestation will be getting rid of wasps.

Why are stink bugs dangerous?

The fact that stink bugs eat everything leads to the harvest failures of fruit, citrus, vegetables, shrubs, and cereals. These pests can not be stopped by anything. Stink bugs eat more than 100 species of fruit, berries, vegetables, and cereal crops.

How to reveal a stink bug infestation?

While examining the plants, you can identify the presence of the stink bugs: green sprouts wither and die, necrosis appears on the trunks of trees, the surface is tuberiferous with soft tissues under the bark. Damaged fruits and vegetables are rotting or fall off unripe. There are small punctures in the form of dots on the fruits caused by a stink bug infestation. If the insect damaged the fruit spur, it loses shape and fall off.

What harm does a stink bug infestation cause?

By puncturing the tissues with its proboscis, the stink bug causes the disease of the fruit, the ingress of bacteria, and the following rotting. After injecting its enzymes into vegetables or fruits, the stink bug sucks out the juice, and as a result the fruit loses its taste and is unsuitable for food.

By puncturing the tissues with its proboscis, the stink bug causes the disease of the fruit, the ingress of bacteria, and the following rotting. After injecting its enzymes into vegetables or fruits, the stink bug sucks out the juice, and as a result the fruit loses its taste and is unsuitable for food.

If the marmorated stink bug has damaged the vineyard, then such berries won’t be suitable for making wine.

Are stink bugs dangerous for people?

The stink bugs constitute the most threat to the harvests. There is no harm for people, but if a stink bug finds its way into the room, an allergic reaction may occur. If the insect makes it onto the bed or hygiene items, it can cause itching or rashes. The stink bug smell spread from the stink bug remains on objects, on belongings, on the body. And if you accidentally smash the insect, you’ll have to ventilate a room for a long time to get rid of the stink bug smell . Even repeated washing of hands will not redeem the stink bug smell if you touch or take a bug.

When detecting stink bugs in house or when they are invading the room, it is necessary to apply a sparing way of removing them. You can collect stink bugs with a vacuum cleaner and dump them out onto the street into a jar of kerosene. It’s not recommended to smash them, because the stink bug smell can cause an allergic reaction, up to the Quincke’s disease.

Do stink bugs bite?

Marmorated stink bugs do not bite people. Though their proboscis is made to pierce the fruit, their jaws are not designed for biting. For the same reason, with the stink bug bite infectious diseases and viruses are not transmitted.

How to get rid of stink bugs

Stink bugs are resistant to the majority of insecticides. Therefore, it’s impossible to get rid of stink bugs with chemical preparations suitable for other insects. In small garden areas to prevent a stink bug infestation, physical elimination is used (the bugs are collected manually).

In addition to the eradication of adults, we must also fight their larvae. The most effective preparations to get rid of stink bugs include:

  • Karate Zeon, micro-suspension, is the most effective stink bug killer that eradicates adult stink bugs and their larvae. The active substance is lambda-cyhalothrin.
  • How to use it? The stink bug killer substance is sold in ampoules of 4 ml and is mixed with 10 liters of water. Two-time treatment is performed to eradicate adult stink bugs and larvae.
  • Kliper (emulsion concentrate, Talstar) is a stink bug killer with bifenthrin used as the active ingredient.
  • How to use it? 6 ml of the stink bug killer substance is mixed with 10 liters of water. 1 treatment is required to get rid of stink bugs. Effective for the protection of vegetable crops: tomatoes, cucumbers.
  • Carbofos or chlorophos are applied according to the instructions.

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Any anti-pest treatment is best conducted in early spring when insects have weak immunity after winter and it is easier to get rid of stink bugs.

  • It is compulsory to observe safety precautions when working with chemicals.
  • Use preparations strictly according to the instructions.
  • At home, use chemicals with extreme caution, especially if there are small children or pets.
  • When using preparations to get rid of stink bugs larvae, it should be born in mind that the first larvae appear in mid-April — early May. The treatment to cease a stink bug infestation must be processed during this period, even if you have not noticed a large invasion of marmorated stink bugs.
  • Subsequent treatments to get rid of stink bugs should be performed at intervals of 35-45 days, since females lay eggs at this interval.

The problem of marmorated stink bugs in house

In addition to harm in the garden, a marmorated stink bug can find its way inside the house and cause damage. Its appearance and the disgusting stink bug smell will bring inconveniences to dwellers. The stink bug infestation can be so massive that it will be impossible to get rid of stink bugs.

How do they enter the house and what do stink bugs eat?

Stink bugs crawl into the house to hibernate when the temperature outside becomes uncomfortable for them (below +15). Feeling the warmth, they find their ways into the rooms through the windows, doors, and cracks. Stink bugs hide in the cellars, pantries, bookcases. In 2016-2017, these insects practically attacked houses in many regions: hoards of them crawled into the houses, and it was impossible to get rid of stink bugs. 

What do they feed on inside the house?

Inside the house, the shield bugs usually do not cause any harm. They do not eat food, they do not eat at all, they do not reproduce and simply hibernate. However, the stink bug smell which is produced and their repulsive look bring a lot of trouble to the house owners.

How to get rid of stink bugs inside the house?

The best solution is to not let pests inside the house. In order to do this, several conditions must be fulfilled:

  • Repair all cracks;
  • Install anti-mosquito screens on the windows;
  • Keep the house doors closed;
  • Install ventilation screens in the cellars and storerooms;
  • Carefully inspect and shake out all things brought from the outside.

If stink bugs have entered the house despite all the precautions, do not panic. They are not dangerous for humans. Even with its impressive size, the stink bug does not attack people, does not bite or transmit diseases. But if you don’t want to ventilate the room, don’t smash or touch the stink bug with bare hands. If it is a single bug, carefully brush it off into a paper bag and turn into a stink bug killer outside. If there’s a stink bug infestation in the room, then you can use a vacuum cleaner to collect them all.

Please, remember that if your vacuum cleaner is equipped with a bag, the stink bug smell will remain for a long time, and you will smell the stink with every cleaning. It is better to use a vacuum cleaner with a removable container to get rid of stink bugs. After collecting insects in such a way, they must be shaken out into a jar of kerosene or be burned outside. A large number of smashed stink bugs can cause an allergic reaction.

If a stink bug infestation takes a catastrophic size, you can use the same stink bug killer methods as in the garden. But be sure to take into account that these are potent chemicals, and ensure that there are no children or pets in the room.

Traditional remedies and preventive measures

When trying to get rid of stink bugs, numerous traditional remedies are used. But the marmorated stink bug reacts little to various deterrents, herbal and onion infusions. And yet, garden owners who do not want to poison their crops with chemicals try to use traditional stink bug killer remedies.

  • One of the common methods is a stink bug trap with the smell of alcohol. A strong alcoholic beverage (chacha) is poured into a bottle, and it is suspended in places of pest accumulation, on fruit trees. Stink bugs crawl into in a bottle attracted by the scent, get into a stink bug trap, and die.

Rescue! trap was designed for catching brown marmorated stink bugs both in your house during winter months and in your garden in summer. It uses pheromones as the primary attractant with a 30-foot radius of action. The bugs get inside the cone and can never go back. After trapping they quickly dehydrate without water or food and die.

The pheromone attractant supply that goes with the trap will last for about four weeks; then you’ll have to install a new one. Refills with nine-week attractor supply are sold separately. If you use Rescue! trap in your garden from early spring to early fall, you will notice the garden infestation twice or thrice reduced. Besides, being a stronger attractor than warmth, this trap will keep the bugs from coming to your house. In-house use has also proved useful. Its usage is completely safe and odor-free for humans.

You can hang Rescue! trap from a tree in a 20-feet radius from your home or simply put it on the floor or the windowsill if you decide to use it indoors. Its green fins must be secured to the tree trunk or any other object you choose to let the bugs easily crawl into.

  • non-toxic and odorless;
  • can be refilled;
  • suitable for indoor and outdoor use;
  • controls severe infestation.
  • needs regular refill;
  • bugs leave their pheromone trail on the way to the trap.
  • Spraying the garden with a stink bug spray made of water mixed with kerosene, turpentine, or vinegar. This method scares off not only pests but also all useful insect pollinators. Plus, the fruits will become smelly and uneatable after using this stink bug spray.

This spray has a bed bug formula but works just as great with stink bugs. All you have to do is disperse it around stink bugs’ points of entry to your home and give it some time. It’s also perfect for the direct contact, so you can spray the bugs every time you see them. It has three main ingredients: Pyrethroid, Imidacloprid, and a synergetic agent that helps to activate those two.

With Ortho Home Defense you get to cover even the bugs resistant to one of the pesticides. All the ingredients are safe for humans, but you still should be careful when spraying it in your kitchen or someplace with food. If the food has been exposed, it must not be eaten. Imidacloprid may cause harm to some animals, so it’s better not to spray it nearby your pets.

The fish tanks must be isolated as well. Stink bugs move at a slow pace which makes them a perfect aerosol target. Aerosol acts fast and can hold its effect for up to five hours. Depending on the scale of your stink bug infestation, you may choose between a small (3 oz.) and large (18 oz.) sizes. If the bug infestation is severe, it may take a few weeks of regular use. Ortho Home Defense will also work on fleas, ticks, bed bugs, ants, spiders, crickets, millipedes, moths, and silverfishes.

  • highly efficient;
  • unique formula works even on bugs used to Pyrethroid;
  • full infestation control in less than a month;
  • suits for eliminating bugs of many types;
  • available in two sizes.
  • may cause harm to you or your pets on close contact;
  • in the most severe cases the elimination procedure must be repeated regularly in the course of a month or even two.
  • To scare the pests off infusions of wormwood, mustard, pyrethrum (chamomile inflorescences) can be used.
  • For the eradication of insects, another stink bug trap can be used, It’s a device made of a lamp, a white sheet and a container with a soap solution. At night in the garden a lamp is turned on, a white sheet (painted metal sheet or paper sheet) is installed next to it, and a container which is a stink bug trap is put under it. Stink bugs fly into a bright light, intensified by reflection from a white sheet, hit it and fall into a soapy solution. They can not get out of this stink bug trap anymore. In this way, you can at least slightly reduce the population of the stink bug.

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Besides pheromones, marmorated stink bugs are attracted to light. With a simple electric bulb on the porch, you can draw them outside of the house. Or you can get yourself an instant insect eliminator that is an irresistibly attractive light source at the same time. Liba has a powerful 2800V grid and won’t let any insect of its sight. This kind is equipment is completely safe for indoor use and will also serve you as a night-lamp.

You may put the zapper on the floor or use a chain to hang it somewhere. Outdoor use, however, is possible but not that effective. Two replacement bulbs are included in the starter pack, and you can always buy additional ones from the producer. The tray is removable so that you can always clean the trapped insects out. The cage wiring makes the usage safe for people and animals.

The bulbs will work through six months of steady use, but be careful when changing them, as they are very hot and may give you jolts. When you turn the zapper off, better wait for half an hour before cleaning it or changing the bulbs.

  • non-toxic and works without chemicals;
  • completely safe for people and animals;
  • works for all kinds of bugs attracted to light;
  • can control stink bug infestation.
  • bulbs need to be changed every six months;
  • high price compared to other means;
  • cleaning and bulb changing can be problematic.

In order to not to have to deal with this dangerous omnivorous pest, it is better to carry out preventive measures.

  • Remove the fallen leaves in autumn, where stink bugs can settle for the winter.
  • In the early spring, check out all the secluded places where stink bugs can hide.
  • Plow beds, dig around fruit trees’ trunks, thereby destroying the pests’ refuges.
  • When green sprouts appear, inspect the lower parts of the leaves. Maybe there is already an eggs’ laying.
  • When detecting larvae on vegetables or fruits, kill them and treat them with stink bug deterrents.

The marmorated stink bug is one of the most dangerous pests to date. Its unpretentiousness when choosing a place of dwelling, in food, and its resistance to insecticides makes it invulnerable. To get rid of stink bugs you must wage in all possible ways, not allowing a stink bug infestation and spreading the insects to new territories. Therefore, complex measures to get rid of stink bugs should be applied: the identification of pests, the use of chemicals, the physical harvesting of adult bugs, and their eradication.

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Nicholas Martin

About Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years.

8 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs and Keep Them Away

  1. Killing bed bugs is often a hard-fought battle. The Harris team has developed a three part plan, ranging from identification to sustainable elimination, to help.

  2. Hi Admin,
    These bugs have been found fossilized, dating back further than 3,500 years, and have been found at archaeological sites. During that age, the bugs were used as a potion to try to cure common ailments. They were burned by the Romans and Greeks to make leeches release their hold. To cure snakebite, Egyptians would drink them.

  3. Stink bugs are small little insects commonly found near food and in seed storage areas. Even though these notorious insects will naturally hibernate in the ground during winter, they will migrate into your house if they have access to a warm indoor space.

  4. There are about 5000 species of stink bugs, shield-shaped insects that belong to the family Pentatomidae. One of the most notorious stink bugs is the brown marmorated stink bug …

  5. When stink bugs attacked my garden I was unprepared. I simply did not know anything about them. It took me days to find out who are these ugly creatures that stink and attack my veggies. That’s when I found this page. You described the exact stink bug infestation that I had seen in my garden. I tried Karate Zeon as you said, and I believe it helped. I still have to do the second session, but I am optimistic.

  6. I use home-made spray to kill them, after I read your advice on stink bug removal and decided to create my own remedy. We’ve already made one course recently, now we have to repeat it. Hate these bugs. They mess around our tomatoes. But I have two dogs in the yard, so I use the spray only where they would not reach it. It helps. I am still going to buy a professional trap to make sure that they will not come back.

  7. Hi, Nicholas! Thank you for your piece! I had a problem with bugs and couldn’t find a solution for a long time. They settled in the garden and then, when it became colder, they came to my house! I tried to use traps for stink bug extermination, but they didn’t work. I read about Zapper and decided to test it! The result is excellent, with no bugs and no problems. Thank you so much for the idea!

  8. Hi, everyone! There was an invasion of bugs in our house, so I had to think about choosing of stinkbug removal. Talstar is an excellent way of exterminating bugs. It’s very economical and lasts a long time. The spray starts to work in a couple of days. It’s better to try and check!

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