Pest Control: Preventing Stink Bugs

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Jun 03, 2011 | Steve Graham

BF2004/stock.xchngThe name says it all: the smell of a squished stink bug can clear the room. However, the odor is the stink bug’s greatest danger to most homeowners. They are not known to spread disease (though isolated cases of allergic reactions have been reported) or eat clothes, food or other material. They do not even reproduce in the home.

On the other hand, harboring stink bugs can lead to larger problems for gardeners and farmers. If stink bugs are allowed to take shelter indoors over the winter, they are likely to find food outdoors in the spring. Various species of stink bug have been blamed for extensive damage to apples, peaches, tomatoes, peppers and many other valuable crops.

Home stink bug prevention

Therefore, it’s important to keep stink bugs from entering the home before winter. To keep out stink bugs (and many other types of bugs), seal any potential entry points. The most common stink bug entry points are cracks around baseboards, exhaust fans, lights, windows and doors. Caulk any such gaps, and fix damaged door and window screens.

In a stink bug fact sheet, Steve Jacobs of Penn State Cooperative Extension suggests using a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide outside the house in the fall if the home can’t be completely sealed. Jacobs said only professional exterminators should apply the spray. The spraying also needs to be timed carefully as the insecticide breaks down and becomes ineffective within days.

On the other hand, Jacobs warns against using insecticides inside the house once stink bugs get into the house. They will likely be ineffective long-term, and could inadvertently create larger problems. Dead stink bugs in wall cavities and other spaces may attract carpet beetles, which can eat through wool clothes and stored food.

Of course, you don’t want to squash the bugs. It’s best to vacuum them up, although this could also leave a lingering smell in the vacuum, albeit a less potent stench then squashed stink bugs.

New York residents can collect their stink bugs and mail them to Cornell University Cooperative Extension. 

Garden stink bug prevention


In the spring, home gardeners need to worry about stink bugs damaging their fruits and vegetables. Oklahoma State University specialists recommend row covers to protect seedlings and starters from stink bugs and other pests. They should be removed when the plants start to flower.

Several insecticides also work. Consult your local cooperative extension office for the latest information on the most effective insecticides for your area. 

For those trying to maintain organic gardens can try neem, a seed oil extract, or pyrethrin, a widely used chrysanthemum extract. Both are allowed in organic gardens, and may be effective, though short-lived, insecticides. They are best used as part of an integrated pest management program.

Stink bugs cause little more than a stench in homes, so they should be kept out of homes as much as possible before winter sets in. Starting in the spring, they can cause damage to fruit trees and vegetable gardens if not controlled.

Steve Graham is a - - writer.  Read more articles like this one - - or get help with your home project on

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